Surrendering to the Slow Process of RecoveryGuest Post by Alumnus, M.W. I have been thinking of what to write here for a while and hoped at some point something poignant and spot on would sort of appear on the paper. I’m laughing at this now because it completely mirrors the way I have approached recovery for so long; hoping that one day everything snaps into place, the path becomes clear and I mindfully walk off into the sunset, never to look back. I make jokes often with my team about wanting to expedite this recovery process and they compassionately remind me that it doesn’t work that way. So, there you go, I found my topic to write on. I had this idea coming into treatment what recovery would look like and wanted to stick to the plan I had laid out in my head. I spent months and months, both in and out of treatment, trying to plan recovery my way. I have yet to succeed at any of my many attempts to do this. Initially I didn’t want recovery at all, then moved onto wanting recovery without weight restoration or connection to food, and when that didn’t work, I reluctantly moved onto recovery minus the vulnerability part. I still get stuck here most days. I don’t know what recovery looks like for me and on some days, it simply looks like just not relapsing. I have learned and am learning every day how to navigate this, despite being incredibly stubborn (something I’ve learned about myself in this process). Being a gal who seems to need to learn things the hard way, and wanting to spare others from having to, I have created a list of things I have learned along the way that I will share with the disclaimer that recovery looks different for everybody, so take what works FOR YOU and feel free to leave what doesn’t . Know that I am giving myself this advice as much as I am giving it to each of you.
- This process is slow. So slow. I am constantly baffled by how slow it is. I have to take time to look back at where I started to see the progress because in the tiny little shifting moments I have trouble recognizing this.
- I wish I had known that recovery is in the details. Its in surrendering all of it, every tiny behavior. Sometimes I get so caught up in the big picture that I forget that the details matter, but the little behaviors, the small secrets, they keep us sick or stalled or feeling hopeless.
- Who else is sick of hearing about self-care? I was too! I hated talking about it because I didn’t know what it looked like for me, and getting a manicure wasn’t cutting it. Self care is so important, and finding what builds you up and fills you up is key. When I am not focusing on self care I am filling up that space with my eating disorder. Spend energy on finding things you might like. Maybe spa days don’t qualify, maybe singing in the car does, find what works for you. So much of what I heard was vital to recovery didn't make sense until it did. Self care was for sure one of these things. Stick with it, one day it will make sense.
- Don’t disown any of it. The shame you have around whatever you are keeping to yourself, whatever you don’t want to look at or own, it will all keep you stuck. Be willing to look at parts of yourself that you refuse to share.
- Use any motivation you have. For me, thinking of potential future children, future jobs, future degrees has kept me afloat when I want to drown in my eating disorder. Anything you put in front of recovery you will lose. I cannot have any of these things without putting recovery first. I have to remind myself of this maybe a thousand times a day.
- Choosing recovery is not something that I have to do once a day, its something I have to do about 718 times a day, give or take. I have to choose recovery over and over and over again, and then some more, and it rarely feels good in the moment.
- Finally, I will leave you with this. There are so many more things I have learned, but something that I try to keep in mind daily is this:
There are going to be times when we are all too much and/or not enough in the moment. Having healthy attachment and true connection means that relationships won’t end because of these moments. Feeling connected to others and feeling safe with others is a blessing but its also work. I have to work hard for the relationships I value every day of my life, but beginning to build the safety in these relationships is what allows me not to be too much or not enough and is worth every difficult decision.