Six years ago I began my journey in recovery from anorexia nervosa. Last Sunday I celebrated my recovery with a party!
Every year I like to celebrate my recovery around the date that the denial shattered and I realized that I had an eating disorder. That day changed my life.
Most years I celebrate my recovery on my own with some dark chocolate and big mountain smiles. Last year, I was living in Buenos Aires, Argentina where I decided to have a Celebración de Merienda. In Argentina the forth meal of the day is a ‘merienda’ or teatime between lunch and dinner, a time to eat ‘torta,’ drink ‘mate,’ and be together. A merienda is a perfect time for a celebration! This year I decided to continue the tradition with a Celebracion de Merienda here in Colorado.
On Sunday my house filled with the smiles of cherished friends, overwhelming amounts of chocolate and flowers, and many heartfelt conversations. Being surrounded by so much support and celebration was extremely powerful! Plus, I got to cook for everyone and host a party…which I love!
Below I’ve included what I said and the proclamation that I signed (in English and Spanish) at the Recovery Party or Celebración de Merienda:
Eating disorders are all about shame, silence, and insecurity, which is why I am so excited to have you all here today to face my recovery from anorexia nervosa with celebration, joy, and love!
As many of you know, I love questions! While preparing for today and reflecting on my recovery I found myself asking the question, “Why am I so compelled to share my story?” “Why do I speak about my experience, write blog posts, and why have I brought you all together today?”
The answer: to break the silence. I believe that one of the most powerful things about eating disorders is the silence wrapped around them. When anorexia nervosa took hold of my life I did not know that much about eating disorders and I very much believed that an eating disorder could never happen to me.
Therefore, I want others to know more about eating disorders!
- I want people to know that eating disorders are real. Although eating disorder may be perceived as rare, over 30 million people suffer from eating disorders in the USA.
- I want people to know that denial is real. I honestly did not believe I had an eating disorder even when anorexia had taken over my life. Although friends and family kept asking me if I had an eating disorder I could not face the truth. I truly did not know I had anorexia nervosa even as I restricted my eating, over exercised, and obsessed about body image. I clearly remember one bright April morning almost exactly six years ago when the denial began to shatter and I realized I had a problem. Realizing I could not trust myself was one of the hardest things I have ever done and one of the pieces I am still healing from today.
- I want people to know that recovery is possible; deep happiness, joy, and love are possible. I want people to know that, while I would never wish an eating disorder on someone else, I would not change my own experience with anorexia nervosa. I am extremely grateful to my eating disorder for all it has taught me (and continues to teach me). It has set me on the path to become a therapist. It has taught me to love my body and my life. It has taught me that I am powerful, beautiful, and strong—if I can recover from the deadliest of all mental illnesses I can do anything. It has made me who I am. It has
I could keep going and going because my journey of recovery has taught me so much!! However, I’m not here to lecture but to celebrate! Please ask me more questions and always feel free to use me as a resource. I am always happy to share my story and understanding.
This time of year I like to recommit to my recovery and myself. I have begun the tradition of writing a proclamation each year; it is a promise to my recovery and myself. Today I would like to read and sign this proclamation with you all as my witnesses.
Zoe Elizabeth Vlastos,
I promise to accept and respect you entirely—body, mind, and soul. I will nourish you with healthy and delicious food. I will dress you in comfortable clothing. I will use your body to exercise in ways that you desire…outside, in the sun, dancing, full of joy. I will listen to you always and fulfill your wishes. I will trust you entirely…I will follow the dreams of your heart and your soul. I will remind you that you are doing the best you can given what you have and who you are in this moment. I will sit with what you feel and try not to hide from uncomfortable emotions. I will forgive you when you mess up or fail; you are human…it will happen. I will engage with the challenges and triumphs with curiosity and wonder. I will tell you a positive story about your life. I will surround you with people who lift you up and make you feel good about yourself. I will allow you to be vulnerable and ask others for help. Always, always, always, I will love you. I loved you, I love you, and I will love you for who you were, who you are, and who you will be. You are perfectly imperfect.
I love you my life…my Zoe,
Zoe Elizabeth Vlastos,
Te prometo aceptarte y respetarte totalmente…cuerpo, mente, y alma. Te alimentare con comida saludable y rica. Te vestiré en ropa comoda. Usare tu cuerpo para hacer ejercicio que queres hacer…afuera, en el sol, bailando, llena de alegría. Te escucho siempre y cumpliré tus deseos. Te confiare en todo…seguiré los sueños de tu corazón y alma. Hacere que recuerdes que estas haciendo lo mejor que puedes con lo que tenes y con quien sos en este momento. Sentare con lo que sentís y no intentare esconder emociones desagradable. Te perdonare cuando equivocas o fracasas. Sos humana…va a pasar. Enfrentare los desafíos y los éxitos con curiosidad y asombra. Te contare una historia positiva sobre tu vida. Pondre alrededor tuyo a otros que te hacen sentir bien y que te levantan. Te permitiré estar vulnerable y pedir ayuda de otros. Siempre siempre siempre te amare. Te ame, te amare, y te amo por quien fuiste, quien seras, y quien sos. Sos perfectamente imperfecto. Te amo mi vida…mi Zoe,
I also have writing materials if you would like to write your own promise, statement, proclamation, etc. We all have a story. We are all on journeys. I believe that writing is a powerful way to remind ourselves of where we want to be going and what we are committed to doing in our lives.
I stand before you today proudly. I am extremely proud of my recovery. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and an experience that reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind and heart to doing. I would like to invite each of you to share something that you are proud of in your life? Or perhaps something that you are grateful for or something you appreciate about yourself!
Proclamation writing materials & Gratitude Jar
Plethora of Flowers and Chocolate
My Recovery Candle
Given to me by my therapist. On each rock is written a value or trait I learned to embrace through my recovery.
Beautiful solo hike I took on Saturday to reflect on my recovery!