The One Constant in Recovery-And In Life Generally-is Change
The piece below was written by a young woman in recovery from an eating disorder.
Initially, I found the prospect of “recovery” intangible, overwhelming and too new age-y to feel authentic. I was still not sure I wanted to get better, and the idea that it would take time and patience was exceedingly irritating. Still, I had to admit that my own endeavors to recover had been unsuccessful, and I should give it a try. I went about this in the clearest way I knew possible: identifying a goal, creating a timeline, and setting out to accomplish my goal in the most efficient way possible. Using smiley face stickers I gave myself a grade for each day I was in treatment, rating my performance and the outcome. I did my homework, read every book available and attempted to take full advantage of the resources around me. While this strategy had worked well for me in an academic setting, it was much less effective in this new environment.
True to it’s abstract connotation, recovery didn’t coalesce well with definitive progress markers or deadlines. Worse still, these tangible assignments were only the superficial part of recovery. The harder part, and the part I pretended didn’t exist, was the “emotional work” (just another new-agey term I had to contend with). And this emotional process, to my dismay, could not be put on a timeline or rushed. Perhaps the most infuriatingly new age phrase of all was the much repeated cry to “surrender to the process”. Surrender sounded to me like defeat; sending my own determination and fiercely goal oriented work ethic out into the ether, only to be replaced by hope and patience. Months later, when I finally tired of pushing myself harder and harder to achieve the unachievable, I let go. I threw away my calendar and sticker grading scheme, agreed to take time off school, and stayed–albeit reluctantly–in the present.
To my complete shock, while the huge weight of “fixing myself” seemed to be taken off my shoulders, my determination remained. The only difference was now I tried my best, but didn’t beat myself up if I wasn’t where I thought I should be. This was part of the recovery roller coaster. Some days the progress was evident, other days it felt nonexistent. From recovery (and surrendering to its unpredictability), I have gained a mindfulness and inner peace. No longer do I agonize constantly about how many days are left, or what work is still to come. When I get impatient, I can remind myself that recovery is temporary. The struggles I have now will not last forever. If I have learned anything from recovery thus far, it’s that the one constant in recovery–and in life generally–is change. I can’t predict how or when that change will manifest, and letting go of that helps me focus on today.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia and would like to read more about how recovery is possible, check out this book recommended by KK, the author of the piece above:
by Jenni Schaefer
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