My Birthday Present: “25 Years to Life” This Emotional Life - PBS

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Eating disorders / Blog

   Troy Roness

Troy Roness's Bio

Troy is a twenty-three year old male exercise/eating disorder survivor and advocate originally from Crosby, ND.

My Birthday Present: “25 Years to Life”


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Picture it, Williston, ND, 1986. A healthy, nearly nine and a half pound baby boy was introduced to the world. Although this boy’s family was happy he had arrived, he hadn’t presented himself willingly. His stubborn and inflexible mindset as a newborn happened to be a characteristic that would follow him throughout his life; but I digress…

Looking back on nearly 25 of existence, I wonder fir: Where did the time go? And secondly: Have I accomplished what I set out to complete?  To be honest, I don’t think I have a response that can answer either question. I actually never remember setting specific goals for myself, I hadn’t built a framework for later life, nor did I ponder looking past my high school days.

After being stripped of everything in life I hadn’t anticipated at age 19, that dark-period ultimately gave me the courage to put everything I subconsciously anticipated, on the line. When my illness stole the existence I formed up to that point, hindsight shows me that I had not seriously stunted my progress. However, I can’t look back at hypothetical aspirations and become bitter regarding what might have been. If I am going to focus on my “25 Years to Life,” I’ve got to let go of, and develop true ambitions and dreams I know are actually mine.

Almost six years have passed since my sickness formed a strangle-hold on me. I blinked at my high school graduation and have realized how much time has actually passed; six whole years. This upcoming birthday has me reflecting on how fast time flies, how I’ve grown and helped me discover what I’ve lost in the process.

I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world. I became an uncle, an advocate, and an active graduate student. I’m planning for future political ambitions and have become a royal pain in the tail for eating disorders; all while having the chance to share my experiences.

Setbacks have been inherently abundant along this road, as well. After two broken “relationships,” I’ve found myself building walls, shielding myself at a time where I may need to express more diligently how I’m feeling to those who are there to support my walk. My body has been through the ringer, and although it has done an amazing job of enabling me to do the things I want for the most part, the damage is evident. Even some of my extremely strong family ties, including one with my sister, have become broken because of the decisions I’ve made.  I’m slogging along and looking at the bad choices I’ve made and the many mile markers and pivotal points in recovery that I’ve encountered. Still, I end up feeling as if I should be further along.  With resentment festering within my support structure, not laying out my road to recovery as someone else sees it, I often wonder, “How in the world am I going to tolerate this any longer?”

Look, I know I’ve made mistakes and poor choices.  I’ve felt as if I’m washed up and that I’m supposed to just endure recovery as I’m instructed.  But after 25 years of doing things to others liking, recovery is yelling loud and clear, “This is your time, your chance, and your opportunity for a new beginning.”

Similar things have probably happened in your life, but perhaps in a different context? We all amass emotional trauma over periods of time. Stuffing my negative emotions and brushing aside unfortunate circumstances was my way of dealing with the world. As it turns out, I needed to, with the proper coping skills, make recovery my choice and do it my way.

We don´t have to battle everyone in our lives to prove that we are valuable or pretend to be someone we´re not. Here´s something to think about, don’t squander your efforts in trying to change what everyone else thinks, or force on yourself a personal mission to control someone’s perception of you. If I had listened to what I believe God was telling me all along, perhaps I wouldn’t have constantly tried to prove myself, walked on eggshells in all environments, or continually prayed and questioned if I were “good enough.”

I know it sounds corny, but time truly does enable a person to change and heal. Even if it isn’t today, or in year 25, I know the satisfaction, hope and sense of peace I am able to relay to parents, family members and friends concerning their loved one(s) will enable me to overcome my own despair. Everyone out there is amazingly strong and knows deep-down the direction they need to go. Therefore, no matter what you may be going through, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that you will overcome.

In reflecting on my upcoming 25th birthday, I see areas that need work, I notice opportunities like never before, and, heck, I just need to grasp that I will continually have to buckle-down and endure my time with this illness.  The latter parts of the recovery process, to me, feel just as difficult as the beginning stages. It doesn’t matter where others see me at 25, because I know I’m right where I should be. So, here’s to the birthday sentence of “25 Years to Life.” I can’t wait to see the trail I leave atop the next mountain I’ll get to scale.