I hope you have been enjoying this three-part series on Finding a Reason to Recover. To recap, in Part I, we explored what a “reason” is and how to decipher the reasons we have for the choices we make. In Part II, we looked at the word “choice” and how the very natural human emotion of fear factors into the choices we make to stay stuck or move forward.
For the conclusion of our series, we will explore what it means to “recover”. Accepted definitions of this word include: “to get back, regain, to compensate for, recover losses from.”
These definitions might resonate if we developed an eating disorder as an adult, and we have strong memories of what life was like, what we were like, and who we were before the eating disorder set in.
But what if we have been struggling with the eating disorder for so long that we can no longer recall who we were or who we could be again without that influence controlling our lives? Or what if we were very young when we first became ill, and today contemplating life without the eating disorder feels identical to contemplating life without….us?
In this context, recovery can feel like a scary, even impossible, concept to grasp.
So here is where we must start pulling together our reasons and our choices to stay stuck or break free and assemble them on the foundation of our sense of self – our personal identity. If we don’t have a personal identity, or don’t remember it anymore, then here is where we must start, because the simple truth is that we cannot recover, regain, or get back anything if we don’t know what – or who – we have lost.
If you enjoyed significant time free from your eating disorder before you became ill, then now is the time to put your memory to work and remember what life was like. What were you like? What did you enjoy doing? What did you look forward to? Whose company did you seek out? What did you think about when you woke up in the morning and went to sleep at night? How did you spend your time and energy? What were you curious about, fascinated with, interested in? Who were you? So spend some quality time this week getting to know you B.E.D. – Before Eating Disorder.
If you developed the eating disorder before you had a strong sense of self, then examine the people around you, especially the people whom you value the most and look up to. What do they enjoy doing? What do you admire about them? If you could be anybody, go anywhere, do anything, who/where/what would you turn your attention to? What causes move your heart? What makes you long to reach out and help someone else? Whose friendship do you enjoy and why? What societal groups tug at your heart strings and why? Who could you be – who would you be – if you had time and energy free from managing the demands of your eating disorder to be YOU? Spend some time envisioning you A.E.D. – After Eating Disorder.
Understand as you do this wonderful, vital work of reconstructing “you” free from the eating disorder’s influence that the priceless gift hidden within the hard work of recovery is the opportunity to wipe the slate clean – or to keep what is good from your past and discard what is harmful now and replace it with something better. You can literally create a fascinating new reality for yourself built on the strength of your determination to overcome your life-threatening disease and the knowledge that if you can recover from an eating disorder, you can do anything you set your heart and mind to achieve.
This is the best reason to do the hard work of recovery that you will ever find. Inherent in choosing to recover is the knowledge that you are worth recovering for, that life is worth recovering for, that you matter, and that there is a place for you and work that only you can do in this world. And even if you don’t feel that way now, don’t believe that now, or don’t see that in yourself now, if you long to be able to one day, then that is a good enough reason to invest the time and energy you have been giving to your eating disordered thoughts and behaviors into recovering from them instead.
Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, said it best when she stated, “It is time for every one of us to roll up our sleeves and put ourselves at the top of our commitment list.”
She didn’t say “when we feel like it, when we believe it is okay, when we have earned it.” She simply said “It is time” to do it. Now. Today.
It is always a good day to choose to recover. At Southlake Counseling Center, we know exactly how much courage, determination, and vision that decision requires, and we have dedicated our lives to supporting you in your recovery journey as we first were supported by caring and skilled others in ours. So contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com to find out how to make 2010 the year that you say “goodbye” to your eating disorder and YES to your own precious, purposeful, and powerful life!