Sometimes we all need a little reminder that recovery is about embracing change for all that it is.
Here is my response to an email I received this week about being stuck in the place between wanting to recover, but also being terrified of letting go of ED for good.
First and foremost, thank you SO much for reaching out and sharing your story with me. My heart shatters just thinking about the pain you're experiencing, but please know that recovery is possible. For years, I would sit and just wish away my days hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel. I told my parents multiple times that I couldn't do this anymore - I didn't have enough energy to fight. I had no intention of rediscovering myself because I was convinced that I was too far gone. But hey - look at me now. IT IS POSSIBLE.
Secondly, I am so proud of you for the amount of effort you have already put into your recovery. What's tricky about this process is that it can take one person 6 months, and another person 6 years. There's no rhyme or reason to it, but we just have to respect the fact that everyone recovers at their own pace. You have spent a lot of time trying to overcome this disorder, but based on your email I have noticed one common theme - it never seems to resolve the issue at hand. Simple observation, I know, but I am getting somewhere I promise. If it's not working, then you only have one logical solution. Try something different.
For my recovery, I tried everything you can think of. I tried individual therapy, group therapy, family counseling, nutrition appointments, exposure therapy, medication...you name it, I tried it. In addition, I would do things on my own that I thought might help, just praying that something would help me escape the pain. I covered all of the mirrors in my house, would eat with my eyes closed and headphones in to try to silence the voices in my head, deleted all social media, created a recovery journal...the list goes on and on. But for years, I would get into bed at the end of the day and nothing changed. I was stuck in a rut of wanting to recover, but also being terrified of letting go of ED. After all, he had been with me for years. I thought he was keeping me safe. I relied on him for comfort.
But let's take a step forward and think about what life in recovery means - freedom, happiness, health, spontaneity, joy, energy, love, compassion, friendship, excitement...I could go on forever. Is there ANY possible way to have these beautiful things in your life while you're chained to your abuser? ED would never allow for these things to happen. It's against everything he believes in. He wants you to be broken, isolated, and insecure. This is the only way he knows how to keep you around and keep you reliant on him. So do you see how these two lives are completely contradictory? We cannot have any part of recovery while chained to ED - even if it's only tiny parts of you that are still reliant on him. Recovery means letting go. It means abandoning EVERY single rule, ritual, fear, and obligation that this stupid demon has demanded you to follow. During my hospitalization, I was told time and time again to jump.
I was told to leap from the cliff and embrace the free fall. I was promised that recovery would be on the other side. I didn't believe them, but I jumped anyway. And here I am today, on the other side, telling you to jump.
Your body is begging for life. It is waiting for you to take that running start and leap from the cliff. So here is my advice - do ALL of the things that terrify you so much that you shake just at the thought of them. Eat that one "toxic" food ED has told you time and time again to never even let cross your mind. Take a whole month off from the gym. Delete your calorie tracker. Cover all of your food labels. Have someone else cook for you. Go out to eat and have the waiter choose your meal for you. Journal your thoughts in the moments when you feel like your mind and body are shutting down. Cry when you need to. Talk about EVERYTHING going on in your head. Take an unplanned weekend trip. Smile even when you feel like you can't. Live.
Above anything else, remind yourself that YOU decide when you're ready to recover. You are the only person who can change your life. If you are unsatisfied with your life right now, then let's do something about it. I don't want you to live another moment at war with yourself. I am sending you my deepest love and forever blessings. You can do this. You have to do this. You are a warrior.