You want recovery from your eating disorder more than anything else in the world! It’s your number one goal and you believe that it is possible.
You decide to get yourself into treatment or therapy and commit yourself to eating disorder recovery…no matter what!
You work hard, suffer through lots of tears, and you get throttled by waves of emotions you never knew existed in you before. But, you grit your teeth and you carry on. You are determined to get through this and get your life back to normal.
A year or so into recovery, having been free from eating disorder behaviors for the longest time in your life, you realize what’s happened. Dare you say it? You have recovered!
You feel free and light. You’re proud of yourself and all that you have persevered through. It feels like a miracle.
The Turning Point
But then, over time, those ed thoughts start to reappear more and more frequently.
You don’t freak out though. You’ve got tools. You have skills and motivation. You can figure this out and work through it. And you do.
But, you’re starting to notice that this is happening all the time. It’s as though every second of the day is asking you to pull out your tools and call forth your skills and, to tell the truth, it’s getting old. And it’s exhausting.
The questions begin. Is this what recovery is? I thought eating disorder recovery was possible but now I don’t know. Is this what people mean when they say that you’re always in recovery?
You feel discouraged and you start to ask yourself if you even want recovery. You’re not so sure anymore.
This is a scary moment! And many people come to this fork in the road in their recovery at some time or another. I know I have!
So what do you do? It’s time to re-evaluate!
One of the most challenging lessons I’ve had to learn throughout my own recovery is just how dynamic life is. Change is constant and, shockingly, that is the only constant. But, realizing this can open up a whole new world for you!
When I first entered treatment many years ago, I wholeheartedly believed that the eating disorder was a food issue. I believed that getting my “diet and eating under control” meant that I had conquered the eating disorder.
Eventually, I came to that proverbial fork in the road though. I started to succumb to the eating disorder thoughts and fall back into relapse. It was disheartening.
As much as I wanted to keep my “diet and eating under control” I was having a hard time staying on track.
What Does Recovery Even Mean?
I started to realize that while I still wanted recovery, it didn’t mean the same thing to me anymore.
In the beginning, recovery was very much about food and learning how to normalize my eating. But I’d done that. Learned it. It was time to move on.
I hadn’t recognized my changing desire though. It turns out I was still trying to live within the confines of my original recovery plan and I was still pre-planning my meals and snacks and trying to keep myself “on track.”
But, what I actually wanted now was to loosen up the leash. I didn’t want to plan and follow the structure for “initial” recovery anymore. I was craving variety and spontaneity. This was a new level of recovery.
Treatment had required that I start to learn to trust myself by following structure. But that’s where it had ended.
I was ready for more and I didn’t even recognize it.
Recovery, to me, had originally been about structure and getting back on track. There was a greater part of me though that was ready to move on. A deep part of me was desperate to go exploring.
I would have had an easier time taking the next step in my recovery journey if I had recognized and honored this greater longing inside myself. My original desires had changed.
Recovery was no longer about food and “fixing my diet.” It was now about uncovering the hidden parts of me and being able to listen to and hear myself on a much deeper level. And so, above anything else, that is what I had to start to do. And when I let my definition of recovery change, it became possible once again.
So yes, recovery is possible! But, you have to know what it means to you, and also know that its meaning will change over time as you change.
YOU are the one defining recovery. What is it that you really want?