Recovery: A Mother’s JourneyGuest Post by Megan McFall, Castlewood Alumna
My life is a series of pauses, deep inhales. I pause to listen to the rhythmic breathing of my four-month-old son in his swing at night. I deeply breathe in the scent of my 18-month-old daughter as we cuddle before her naptime. No one told me that my practice of mindfulness in recovery would turn out to be the only way that I would survive motherhood. Working through trauma, recovery from anorexia, and raising babies have one certain commonality: You have to be fully in the moment. You would be remiss to jump ahead of yourself. Oh, and you have to have a sense of humor. Without laughter, I would have probably long ago careened off the face of the planet. So my survival strategies have been presence and laughter.
I never expected to survive. Needless to say, I never expected life to be birthed out of my broken life. But here I am, fully alive, with two living, breathing, vibrant miracles constantly reminding me of the tri-fold gift of recovery. My children had names while I was at Castlewood in 2011 and 12, even though they were yet to be conceived. I wrote a letter to Lily Grace and Elijah James, and two and a half years later, I hold them in my arms, the same arms that once only held desperately to anorexia. I was able to carry them in a body that had once born only self-hate and shame. Grace has multiplied and multiplied until it has shoved many of the old hateful messages to the periphery of my consciousness.
The journey is by no means linear. It would be a joke to say that it is perfect. I would be near-sighted to say that I am “recovered.” I do know, however, that I am solidly in recovery, and that I could name about twenty things in my life that are legitimately unequivocally more important than being thin. Hopefully, in ten years, I can name one hundred. I never knew the possibilities of love. I never knew how many colors could exist in this rainbow of life. It is risky to step into recovery, and it is risky to walk daily in recovery. But oh, it is worth the risk. It is excruciating, but the pain of recovery is what is beginning to open me up to the possibility of really living. There is joy on the other side of pain, and honestly, there is deep joy to be discovered within the pain. I am not finished with my work. In many ways, it has just begun. I am committed to life now, and I am committed to the lives that are the fruit of my recovery. I continue to walk out my recovery in the mundane, in the sleep-deprived, in the chaotic, and in the beautiful tenderness of early motherhood. It is possible and oh, so worth it.