Saturday, May 22, 2010

Moving Beyond the Chaos

The process of recovery is full of challenges, fears, emotions and just plain exhaustion. There is no order to the steps you must take, how long it will take, or what YOUR recovery will look like. This uncertainty can be immobilizing in itself, and often prevents those who truly need help from taking the necessary steps to move forward.
There is a pseudo 'safety' to the cocoon of an eating disorder, no matter how miserable a person may also be. The routine holds certainty, while making changes holds NO promises or clarity...UNTIL you actually begin the process, and keep going.....
The chaos that change may bring often feels much worse than the pain of the eating disorder, and this can cause additional depression, hopelessness, and thoughts of turning back. Trusting without proof of the outcome requires a 'leap of faith', and constant reminders of why you don't want to go back, or remain in the possible deadly cocoon of the eating disorder.
Commonly, guilt will cloud the picture as well. It may be a guilt for 'wasting' all those years, for hurting others along the way, or even guilt for working recovery. Many times you/we don't feel at all worthy to be well, and least of all happy about it!!
I know it's hard to keep the momentum. The pain, memories and horrible body discomfort bring on doubts about whether the effort is worth it. There will likely be many moments of wanting to give up.
Recovery requires patience, and if you don't already have it, you will acquire it along the way.
For myself, the development of my 'distress tolerance' skills was vital. Learning to wait, sit with the discomfort, the anxiety, and the fear was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. But it is also the experience that taught me the most about myself, and how to deal with life without relying on the eating disorder to cope.
Change requires letting go, but it also requires some 'chasing away', in terms of truly having to fight against the old thoughts, eating disordered messages, and to 'break the rules' that have literally controlled your every movement and decision. You can't just NOT do something anymore, I believe you must do something different, in it's place, or you are left with that void that will be filled...but with what? Those are the decisions that are key to moving forward, and they are not always changes that can be implemented without the guidance of a professional.
The body and mind take time to heal. And they will heal, if the disordered eating and other behaviors do not continue to happen.
How can you forgive yourself for the time lost? How can you walk through the guilt of 'letting your body go', which is what the old eating disordered thinking will try to lead you to believe? In the midst of the eating disorder, you may have worked very hard to achieve a goal..of weight loss, perfection, acceptance, or a number of other possibilities. What does it mean for you to let go of that, to move against that, to think in the opposite direction? Likely it will result in great distress and confusion, depression, and often, loneliness.
There is often true grief in letting go, in moving forward, even though part of you knows it's for the best. It's what you have known.
For myself, I finally got tired of grieving that loss, and I decided that if I truly wanted to find meaning in my life, I had to look ahead as much as possible, and accept that I could not change what I 'lost' due to my eating disorder, and that I want to live my life to as full of an extent every day now. Unless I cut the strings to those regrets, I cannot do that. Truly 'living in the moment' allows me to do that now.
I remember being told at one point during my recovery that if I wasn't uncomfortable, I probably wasn't making progress. At the time, I didn't understand or believe that, but I see it now, and I know also that it doesn't apply to life in general, but for the process of change for someone who clings to the 'safety' of a routine.
Set new goals, believe in the possibility in new experiences and new ways of doing things, and most of all, NEVER GIVE UP!!
Without apology...♥


  1. thanks for this jan- definitely gave me a lot to think about!

    if I wasn't uncomfortable, I probably wasn't making progress" <- im going to hold onto that!



  2. Your post was right on the mark. I've learned that my ED is a kind of comfort zone and I often compared the steps toward recovery as doing a high platform dive without any assurance that there's a pool below (what if it's a cement floor?) You are right. Change can be very uncomfortable but it is necessary.

    Thanks so much for your words.

  3. V...too bad it has to be like that 'for a while', but not forever...remember that!!

    M...thank you as always for reading and always affirming...take care...Jan ♥