My mother grabbed my six-year-old hand and pulled me forward into the Earring Tree (a now defunct Clarie’s-esque store in our local mall), and shouted “Are you sure you’re going to do it this time? I don’t want to have to make any more trips down here to get your ears pierced without you getting them pierced. Are you doing to do it or not?”
I look down at my saddle shoes and then back up at her, “Yes. I am going to do it.”
“Good, now get in that chair and I will get the lady.”
I climbed up in the metal barstool chair, grabbed the purple stuffed hippo (who also had its ears pierced), and waited for what I already knew was coming. This was not my first trip, or even my second or third trip, to the Earring Tree to get my ears pierced. I had seen a girl in my gymnastics class wearing a pair of “diamond” studs a few weeks before, and had become obsessed with getting my ears pierced too. Miraculously, I had convinced my mother that getting my ears pierced as a first-grader was a good idea.
Our first trip to get my ears pierced, I saw another girl who was about four or five years older than me getting hers done. She was screaming, crying, and yelling about how much it hurt. I immediately turned my mother around and got the hell out of there. On our second trip, I climbed up in the chair, clutched the stuffed hippo within an inch of its life, and let the piercer put one purple dot on my ear. Nope. That was too scary, and out we went again. By my third trip, I could sense my mother’s irritation, but that did not abate my fear. I got two purple dots on my lobes on that third visit before I bolted out the door. On my fourth trip, I, again, mounted the barstool chair, squeezed the purple hippo, and got two purple dots on my ears. As the piercing gun got close to my ear, I hopped off that chair so fast you would think it was on fire…and that was the end of the fourth trip. On our fifth and final trip, I knew the routine: get on the chair, grab the hippo, get the dots, and leave. However, this time, they were ready for me. Before I could leap out of the chair, they had already pierced one of my ears. I wanted out of there. However, as my mother so kindly pointed out, if I left then, I would look like a pirate with one pierced ear. So, I got the second one pierced. When I was finished, I did not think about the five trips to the mall I had to take to finally get my ears pierced, I thought about how pretty the earrings looked and how cool I was going to be in my gymnastics class now.
My recovery has been a lot like my attempts at getting my ears pierced. Admittedly, it has taken me more than five tries to move towards recovery–a lot more, and it will take even more as I continue walking down the road to recovery. However, every time I thought recovery was too hard, too scary, too “out of control”, or too anything-else…I tried again, just like I did with getting my ears pierced. And, I am here to say, it is not easy. I am not going to sugarcoat it and say every minute I have been on this road to recovery has been great, because it has not always felt that way. I simply remembered that I needed to keep trying, because the alternative to recovery and life is eating disorder and death, and I am choosing life. Any time ED told me I was not worthy of recovery, that I did not even have an eating disorder, or that I just could not do it, I tried again. Any time I fell hard on my ass during a relapse, I tried again. Any time I thought I messed up my recovery so I should not even keep trying, I tried again. There is ALWAYS one more thing to try. When we think there is no hope for recovery, try again. There are individuals living fully recovered lives every day, so we know it is possible to recover. I know it sounds cliché, but that is because it is true, never never never give up. Never stop believing that there is something inside of us that wants recovery more than an eating disorder, that happiness more than darkness, and that wants life over death. Recovery will take multiple tries, I guarantee it–I am living it. However, all those attempts work to make a stronger recovery voice in our mind. When we feel like giving up, we must fight that voice (because it is ED’s voice) and remember to try again. We will not remember how many tries it took us to achieve recovery when we look back on our life, we will look around, see the beauty in and around us, and be thankful that we tried again, that we never gave up, and that we chose life.
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.