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To all who struggle with an eating disorder: an open letter about recovery.

Recovery is a process, and it's messy.

Recovery is not just about the food.

OK, it is a little bit.


Image via iStock.

It’s about the late-night pizza runs with your partner, the bonding over pancakes and omelets, and recounting the night before with your friends.

It’s about sharing a spoon and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s over a movie, or buying chocolate at the gas station just because you feel like it. It’s about trying something new when you’re out to dinner because you feel adventurous and you aren’t worried about the fat or calories.

Recovery is about donuts and chips and all the things you used to cringe about in your disorder.

Image via iStock.

It’s about noticing that your body is hungry, and even though you’re feeling tired, busy, or emotional, you grab something quick and easy so you don’t feel hunger pains like you used to. It’s nourishing your body not because you need to, but because you want to. It’s about loving food again.

But really, it’s also not just about the food.

Recovery is about being free from the bondage of rules and numbers and rituals. It’s letting go of things that aren’t just right. It’s taking a nap on the couch when the dishes aren’t done and the house isn’t clean and you haven’t gone to the gym yet because a nap is what you need. It’s actually resting when you are sick. It’s shedding your old beliefs about yourself and creating a new future.

It’s standing up for yourself.

Recovery is safety and control. Not the safety of dormancy and controlling of numbers like you used to.

It’s safety in knowing that no matter what happens in life, you will be OK. It’s safety in knowing who you are and being proud of it.

It’s not the illusion of control that you had when you were counting calories or losing weight. It’s knowing that without those behaviors, you are the one in the driver’s seat. The disorder doesn’t control you anymore.

It’s making choices that are healthy for you because for once, you are actually in control.

Recovery is taking risks and making mistakes. It’s vulnerability. It’s laughing too loud at a joke that wasn’t that funny to begin with. It’s honesty. It’s crying in front of your partner and getting a hug instead of running to the other room and burying your face in a pillow.

Recovery is experiencing life.

Image via iStock.

It’s going to more places than just work or home. It’s making coffee plans with someone you never really knew before. It’s taking your dog on a different route for her walk because sometimes routine is boring. It’s traveling, even though you’re usually a homebody. It’s riding a rollercoaster so fast that you lose your breath. It’s finding a new hobby because now you have the time to.

It’s finally “leaving the nest.”

Recovery is standing on your own and being OK with it.

It’s looking back at your time in treatment and being grateful for all the people you met and things you learned. It’s knowing that for now, that part of your life is over. It’s learning how to be there for yourself. It’s the fear and anxiety that comes when you become more independent and stray away from your outpatient team, but the pride that comes with feeling like you don’t need to see them as much as you used to.

Recovery is welcoming all emotions and committing to growth. It’s honoring the human experience and vowing to live in the present moment. It’s experiencing all of your emotions, even if they are uncomfortable. It’s being rational.

Recovery is a process, and it’s messy.

It’s waking up every day with a commitment to do the best you can, and letting go of expectations. It’s being patient and trusting that wherever you are in this moment is exactly where you are meant to be. It’s seeing recovery as a journey and not a nuisance. It’s not wishing you were further along or somewhere else — it’s meeting yourself where you are.

It’s looking back at the past and being able to say, “Wow, I may not be where I want to be yet, but I sure have grown.”

Image via iStock.

Sometimes, it’s also relapse and slips and intermittent hospital stays for “tune-ups.” It is not contingent on where you are financially or physically. It’s not one event, but rather a series of happenings over time. It’s admitting that you are one human being — one of many human beings — who are just living their lives the best they can.

Recovery can be book deals and song-writing and motivational speaking to massive crowds, or it can be a quiet confidence that you carry with you every day. You can tell people you are in recovery and be proud of it, or you can move on as if the disorder never existed.

That’s the amazing thing about recovery: There are no rules.

Recovery is choosing to no longer be a victim, saying enough is enough, and doing the work, over and over and over, until it feels natural. Recovery is not unattainable, but don’t be confused: Recovery is not something given to us. It’s not passive in the least. It is brave. It is hard. It is worth it.

To all who struggle with an eating disorder, there is a whole other world out there waiting for you. Please, come visit.

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The evolution of language is fascinating, and the etymology of specific words can be a fun little trip through human history as well as human creativity.

Many English words are derived from Greek and Latin, but other European languages make up a good chunk of our language as well. The roots of some words can surprise us, and so can the way certain words came to be. And in some cases, what we don't know can be just as surprising as what we do.

Enjoy diving into the history of 15 words we use every day.

1. Dog

Dog is often one of the first words babies learn to say, and it's one of the first kids learn to spell. But don't let its simplicity fool you. This word is truly a mystery.

The word "dog" comes from dogca, a very rarely used Old English word, but how we started using it as our everyday name for canines, no one knows. "Its origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Even more interestingly, no one knows the origins of the Spanish word for "dog" ("perro"), nor do they know the origins of the Polish ("pies") or Serbo-Croatian ("pas") words for our canine friends, either. Who knew dogs were so enigmatic?

2. Nightmare

It's obvious where "night" comes from in "nightmare," but what about "mare"? Surely, were not referring to a female horse here.

Horse, no. But female, yes. Female goblin, to be precise. In Old English, mare means "incubus, nightmare, monster; witch, sorcerer." And "nightmare" started being used around 1300 to refer to "an evil female spirit afflicting men (or horses) in their sleep with a feeling of suffocation." Yikes. Thankfully, now it's just any old bad dream.

3. Jumbo

We've all seen animals named for words with certain meanings, but here we have the opposite. The word "jumbo" came from a large elephant who lived at the London Zoo. Zookeeper Anoshan Anathjeysari named him "Jumbe," the Swahili word for "chief." But his status as one of the largest African bush elephants in Europe in the 19th century caused his nickname, Jumbo, to become synonymous with enormousness.

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Run, little mouse, run.

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4. Muscle

The Latin word musculus means "little mouse." As hilarious as it sounds, they thought the movement of muscles looked like little mice scurrying under the skin, hence the origin. Kinda ick to think about, but also logical, so here we are.

5. Quarantine

Ah, a word with which we are all familiar, thanks to COVID-19. But do we know what it really means?

If you understand roots, you may guess that "quar" might have something to do with the number four, and you'd be right. In Latin, quadraginta means a period of 40 days. Our usage of "quarantine" to mean isolation from others comes from the Venetian policy of ships coming into port from plague-stricken countries in the late 1300s to remain in port for 40 days before letting people off. The usage to mean any period of time in isolation began being used in the 1600s.

6. Mortgage

Most of us grow up not really understanding what a mortgage is until we buy our first house, but even then, most of us don't know what the word literally means. It comes from Old French, mort gaige, literally meaning "death pledge."

HAHAHAHAHA. Death pledge. Mortgage. That's funny.

However, it doesn't mean you're tied to the debt til you die, even if it feels like it. The death part means the deal dies either when you pay it off or when you become unable to pay. Doesn't really change the fact that it feels a bit like you're signing your life away when you buy a house, though.

ball of yarn

What does a ball of yarn have to do with "clue"?

Photo by Philip Estrada on Unsplash

7. Clue

Oddly enough, "clue" comes from a misspelling (or alternate spelling from before standardized spelling was a thing) of the word "clew," meaning a ball of yarn.

The word itself comes from German, but its usage points to the Greek myth in which Ariadne gives Theseus a ball (or clew) of yarn to help him escape the labyrinth. Now we use it to refer to anything that helps us solve a mystery.

8. Nice

The word "nice" is nice and simple, right? It's the most basic word we use for "pleasant," a definitively positive word. But this seemingly simple word has been through quite the trek in its etymology.

From the Latin nescius, meaning "ignorant, unaware," it was used to mean "timid" or"faint-hearted" before the year 1300. A couple hundred years later, it had morphed to "fussy, fastidious" or "dainty, delicate." In another 100 years, it changed to "precise, careful." Tack on another few hundred years and we're at "agreeable, delightful," and from there it was only short jaunt to "kind, thoughtful."

What a nice journey from insult to compliment.

9. Shampoo

I would have bet money that the word "shampoo" was French in origin, but nope. It's Hindi, coming from the term champo, and the original meaning was "to massage, rub and percuss the surface of (the body) to restore tone and vigor." It's only been used to refer specifically to lathering and washing out strands of hair or carpet since the mid 1800s.

10. Torpedo

Literally Latin for a stingray. As in the marine animal. That comes from the root word torpere, which means "be numb," since a ray's sting can numb you. It doesn't become the word for a propelled underwater explosive until the last couple hundred years.

11. Ambidextrous

We know that left-handedness was seen negatively throughout much of human history, but even the word that means "able to use both hands equally" has a right-handed bias baked into it. The medieval Latin ambidexter literally meansliterally means "right-handed on both sides."

Isn't English fun?


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