Recovery is hard. It's painful. And it's one heck of a long journey. But most of all, it's beautiful. Recovery is real and the view is breathtaking. Here are 17 of the most beautiful parts, in my opinion, of recovering from an eating disorder.

1. You get your voice back.

If you or a loved one has ever suffered from an eating disorder, you know exactly what I mean when you say you "lose your voice." Not only does your eating disorder steal your ability to speak up, ask for help, and express yourself, but it makes your only way of communication to the outside world through IT. It silences your human right of a voice and instead leaves you with duct tape over your mouth crying out for help and no one hears a thing. The only means of communication become those through abusing food and your body. You may hear someone say "I'm fat" and think well they obviously have a voice if they can say that. But you see my friends, fat isn't a feeling. When we say we are fat what we are really desperately trying to say is that we are sad, angry, happy, fill in the blank here. We think we are only worthy of love and attention if we are deathly ill. It strips us of everything, especially our voices. But here is where the beauty comes in. That voice that has been stolen, isn't a lost cause. It's not too far gone. YOU are NOT too far gone. You can get it back. At any time you choose, you can stand up and say that you're not going to live this way anymore. It's not easy, but it seems to be that the most beautiful things in life never are. You have to fight like hell to get it back. But when you hear your voice for the first time again, it is the most breathtakingly beautiful sound you will ever hear. It's not only the real YOU, but it's the new you, the healed you, the you who has overcome. And it is yours, to keep, to cherish, and to use, forever and ever.

2. You don't just go back to the old you, you become the new you.

Not only does recovery come with getting a new version of your voice back, but it comes with getting a new version of yourself. I remember people always asking me "why can't you just go back to the old you?" Well, I could... hypothetically — but why go backward when my future is waiting for me? We are creatures of change. Always morphing into something more and more beautiful. And through the midst of the suffering and pain that comes with an eating disorder, also comes the beauty and triumph of recovery. You are always becoming. And who you become when you recover, is someone you really want to meet, trust me.

3. You meet yourself for the very first time

That person. That beautiful human being who has been suffering under the shackles and chains, locked in the dark, that person meets the light when you choose recovery. The shackles and chains cannot exist when you choose light when you choose life. They slowly but surely fall off. And when you finally catch your breath and get a chance to take a look at who you are, you may not even recognize yourself. But this is good. You see someone full of courage, full of light, life, and love. You see someone WORTH seeing.

You see YOU. The real authentic you. The you you were always meant to be.

And the people around you might meet her/him first, the new you. Because it takes us a while and a whole lot of courage to finally take a look at ourselves. But let me tell you what, when you meet this beautiful human for the first time, it's near impossible not to smile with tears in your eyes. You are so beautiful.

4. You can laugh about the past.

One of the sure signs of healing is when you can laugh about what once destroyed you. Now that sounds like a dark sense of humor, and maybe it is at times, but it is so freeing to finally look back and smile at the ridiculousness of your disorder, crack a few jokes, and be happy. Because happy is the last thing your disorder ever wanted for you. And laughing about it, is kinda like laughing in the eating disorders face. And that is a glorious feeling.

5. You realize what complete and utter BS the eating disorder's lies were.

One of the things that drove me the most nuts when I started to really take recovery seriously, was when every lie I worshiped started being revealed as complete and utter ridiculousness. When I dove head first in recovery, at first I believed that everything I feared most would come true. I would turn into a walrus. I would become repulsive. I would lose everything and everyone I loved. And then, about two months into solid behavior-free recovery, I took a look around. My skinny jeans still fit, so that means I hadn't morphed into a walrus just yet. People complimented me more than ever, not only on my outward beauty but the glowing of my inward beauty as well. Repulsive? More like ALIVE, is what they saw. And losing everyone and everything... quite the opposite. I can't even describe the way my relationships with family, friends, and my boyfriend have changed. I can't describe the number of beautiful opportunities that have come my way and I've been able to complete. Recovery does mean gaining.... you're right. And sometimes that involves weight. But, usually, recovery means gaining a whole lot of love and a whole lot of life.

6. You share your story not out of desperation for help, but as a whisper of hope.

At my darkest times, I remember I would pour out my story on anyone who would pass by my way. I would cling to anyone in hopes that they would somehow save me from this monster, or they wouldn't leave me if they knew my suffering. My story was a cry for help. A desperate attempt to find love and attention. And it pushed people away every single time. Now, now I can share my story with a smile. Now I can share it not in desperation, but as a means of hope for others. My story is significant. It matters. And it is getting better every single day. This journey is one heck of a ride, but man does it make for a beautiful story.

7. You look in the mirror, and you smile.

YES.

I am not joking you. I look in the mirror and I don't pinch my tummy. I don't draw dotted lines on my body of where fat should be removed. I don't berate and criticize every inch of my body. I wake up in the morning, I eat my breakfast, and then I go say hello to myself in the mirror. A nice hello, a respectful one. And I can't help but smile. Because I am the most beautiful version of myself I have ever seen. It get's better, it really does.

8. You enjoy going out to eat.

In my disorder, going out to eat was the ultimate challenge. The best recipe for a mental breakdown. And a constant reason for my isolation. Food is meant to be social, to be enjoyed, to be a means of bringing love ones together. And I HATED it. I can't even count the memories I missed out on by avoiding going out to eat and instead spent the afternoon shivering in my bed and counting calories. And now, not only do I go out to eat on the regular. But my mind isn't focused on the food at all. I don't pick the least calorie salad on the menu. I listen, I laugh, I speak, and I enjoy the company around me. I am all there, in that moment... not in some far away land that revolved around food and the lack thereof. And best of all, when that dessert menu comes out, if I'm not full from my burger and fries, you best believe we are getting a piece of cheesecake.

9. Sometimes, you eat dessert first.

Speaking of dessert, it's not always the after meal finale. Quite often actually, I eat it before my meal, or for a snack, or just for the heck of it. Somedays, I eat cereal for breakfast, but I'd be lying if I told you I hadn't eaten ice cream or chocolate for breakfast at least a handful of times in the last month. So maybe it's not the healthiest breakfast. Maybe it's not low fat, low carb, low energy, low fun, and low life. BUT it is hellllla good, and I like to think of it as soul food. I've spent way too much of my life starving, to not eat dessert for breakfast if that's what my body is hungry for. My body is smart, I trust it. And hey, you never know when the world will suddenly have a lack of chocolate so you might as well eat it while it's still here. Just to be cautious and everything.. you know.

10. Working out isn't on the top of the priority list.

UGH. I spent so many 3 a.m. torture sessions running mile after mile on the treadmill to work off the food that I so much as thought about eating. Working out is healthy in moderation, it's cool, I like it. But I also know that there are FAR more important things in this life than working out. Besides, I think I've worked out enough for an entire lifetime. So as for me, I'm on a break from working out. Not because I've gone to the opposite end of the spectrum and weigh 600 pounds, but because it's just not on the top of the priority list. Shopping with my friends, eating ice cream with my boyfriend, cheesecake factory dates with my mom.... those are at the top of my priority list right now. And hey guess what? Those same skinny jeans still fit.

11. When you find out you're worthy of love even without being sick.

WHAT? I spent five years of my life thinking the only way I could be loved was if I was in a hospital bed or a rehabilitation center. And now, now I am happy, I am healthy, and I've never felt more loved in my entire life. That eating disorder is a boney little liar. DON'T LISTEN. You are so worthy of love, you always have been. But the healthy you is even MORE fun to pour love into

12. You have days when you forget that monster even existed in your life at all.

This is the weirdest thing to me. Something that consumed my every thought for half a decade, stole my childhood and damn near killed me, I've moved so far from that I have days when I forget I was ever diagnosed with anorexia, let alone consumed by it. But hey, I am not complaining. I know it happened, but I am at peace with it. It is a part of my story. But it is no longer who I am. And that, that is a cool concept to come to terms with.

13. You learn to rebel against society, instead of your body.

We all have a little bit of rebel locked inside. Bursting at the seems to come out. And we used to take every ounce of that and use it for self-destructive measures only. And then when you enter into recovery, you realize to heck with the self-rebellion, it's time to rebel against all those messages that led you to believe you weren't enough in the first place. Society says only certain bodies should wear bikinis, I say EVERY body is a bikini body. Step one, have a body. Step two, place body in bikini. There you have it, folks.

14. You slowly but surely forget all the memorized calorie contents and start to fill that space in your brain with a passion for life instead.

GOOOOOOODBYE, every thought consumed by the eating disorder and all its little rituals. And say hello to a little thing I like to call passion for life. We all have ours, and I'd be willing to bet that YOUR passion, isn't really knowing the calorie content on the back of a juice box.

15. "Healthy" finally becomes a compliment you can hear.

I remember how hard "you look healthy" used to be to hear. And some days it can still be hard to hear. But for the most part, healthy no longer translates to fat in my mind. Instead, I hear "glowing." I hear "beautiful." I hear "full of life." And if that's what healthy means, then sign me up. Healthy is hot.

16. Your taste for food comes back, and more importantly, so does your taste for life.

When suddenly food no longer tastes like cardboard, but instead it tastes glorious. You get your hunger queues back, and your ability to listen to your body. Recovery gives you SO much back and 10 times more. My favorite taste I've experienced so far is life. Let me tell you, life tastes so sweet.

17. Every day is a day closer from being "in recovery" to saying you are "fully recovered."

I don't know when my day will be. All I know is I believe in it, and it's coming my way. "In recovery" is my current status, but like I said, we are always becoming, and I am going to become "recovered." Every day in recovery is one step closer to being fully recovered.

RECOVERY IS REAL.

I believe that with my whole heart. And I know, deep down, you do too. Don't give up my dear friends, we will get there together. If recovery is this beautiful, man, I can't wait to see the view of being recovered.