No, really, naked. Literally. I am giddy to finally post pictures from the photo shoot a few months back (Gisele, Meet McCall) These pictures represents something extraordinary – ME: recovered, vulnerable, at peace with my body and completely exposed. Three years ago I would not dare post a picture of me in a coverup, much less, well, you know.
Why am I posting these today? Well, today is a very special day for me.
Today marks THREE YEARS of RECOVERY.
12.14.10 is my recovery anniversary. Addicts and alcoholics choose their recovery date based on the last time they used drugs or drank alcohol. Eating disorders are much different since our recovery is not as black and white as sobriety.
So why did I choose this day to mark my recovery? Today was not the first day I sat on a therapist’s couch nor was not the last day I used symptoms. Today marks three years since I entered the Carolina House, a decision that forever changed the course of my life. Today is my recovery date because it was the first day I jumped wholeheartedly onto the beautifully imperfect path of recovery. The day I made the brave decision to take a massive leap of blind faith, to be vulnerable and finally accept the help and support I truly needed.
I will NEVER forget walking into the Carolina House that chilly December morning feeling completely naked and exposed, despite being bundled up in my ‘First Day of Treatment’ outfit (Yes, I coordinated a specific outfit for my first day because clearly that was important). Regardless of my fashion attempt to look put together my first day, I no longer had a way to pretend like everything was okay. I was in treatment, clearly, everything was far from ‘okay.’ My Facebook newsfeed went quiet that day, too embarrassed to let anyone know where I was. My reputation as the all-american-southern-belle-turned-career-woman was shattered. I had let everyone down. I had failed at life. Game Over. All I wanted was to cover myself up and disappear.
As my first day wore on, sheer panic set it. I knew I had made the biggest mistake of my life and needed to leave immediately. I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince a staff member that a mistake had been made and this was ‘not for me’. In my business-minded voice, I calmly thanked her for the “opportunity” and told her I would be going on my way because “I wasn’t that bad.” The staff member did not bat an eye. (I would later come to learn that first day panic attacks and escape attempts were the norm.) She calmly sat with me and helped me to realize that maybe I was just where I needed to be. She encouraged me to give it some time and thank goodness I did. My journey has been filled with countless angels like her who helped to support me as I continued on my path, growing stronger with each step and braver with every fall.
Now three years later, I celebrate life, MY life. I live naked and exposed everyday, comfortable in my skin. My body is no longer a battle zone. I have won the war on my eating disorder and I am even helping others win their own body image battles. I am honored to know countless of brave eating disorder warriors by name. They are the reason I pour my heart and soul into what I do and I will spend the rest of my life fighting for each and every one of them by continuing to provide a safe place to SMASH perfection, advocating for better mental health care, breaking the mental health stigma and speaking out for those who have no longer have a voice. My life’s work did not begin when SMASH was born, it began on this date when I made that terrifyingly brave decision to heal my own wounds so that ultimately I could pay it forward and help heal others.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010. Yes, today is my day. My eating disorder silenced me for years, covering me in shame and secrecy. Today, I am exposed – addicted to connection, authenticity and vulnerability. I am not a size perfect. I am a size ME. Today, my voice is strong. My spirit is brave. My mind is mine. And my body is healthy and beautiful.
With (naked) love and celebration,
Special thanks to David Humphreys for taking these amazing pictures. And to Melisse Campbell and of course, my Anne.