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Recovery blog

Alumni Testimonial: Expressing Courage and Authenticity

By: EJ Dillow, Renfrew Alumna

Posted on March 11, 2019

The Renfrew Center is not just the place where I began to defeat my eating disorder, it is also the place where I learned to exhibit the courage and authenticity that shape who I am today. My time at Renfrew does not mark the end of adversity in my life, but it does mark the beginning of me facing adversity in a new way, a way in which courage and authenticity are at the forefront.

At Renfrew, I learned that being courageous often comes with a certain level of discomfort and that is okay. Being uncomfortable is not a thing to be avoided. Discomfort is the space where I grow. I can handle a lot more than my anxious brain tells me I can. The courage I developed at Renfrew not only allowed me to overcome my eating disorder, but it prepared me beautifully for the subsequent journeys of conquering my social anxiety through exposure therapy, as well as beginning the process of coming out to the world as non-binary. Spending time at Renfrew did not magically make my world one in which I would not face any more challenges in my life. It did, however, equip me to face challenges and roll with life with a willingness, grace and tenacity I had never experienced before.

Along with developing courage at Renfrew, I also discovered the importance of authenticity. At Renfrew, I learned to reject societal pressures that had influenced me to look and be a certain way. I started to define what body positivity means to me and to explore what my true values are. Living authentically allowed me to break free from my eating disorder. It then helped me be myself unapologetically and learn to overcome social anxiety. Currently, Renfrew is with me as I take steps to uncover my gender identity.

I am grateful for Renfrew because it is the place that propelled me into my brave new world of recovery! Oh, how I love this new courageously authentic life!

EJ is an alum of The Renfrew Centers - the residential site in Coconut Creek, FL, and the outpatient site in Atlanta, GA. EJ enjoys running and playing Yahtzee. Most importantly, EJ loves their family! Being connected to their parents and siblings has always brought joy to their life. In recent years, marrying an amazing wife and bonding with the coolest little nephew has increased their exuberance for life exponentially. EJ loves being at their home, which they feel so lucky to get to share with their wife, Jordan, and cat, Naboo.

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