the quotes in bold are helpful things my therapist have said to me over the past few months of therapy
“Recovery is not going to feel good, you’re not going to feel better once you start recovery but you just have to keep going and doing it. It’s not about feeling better but learning how to cope with feelings better- and coping doesn’t mean a lack of negative feelings or being in control because truth is, you will always be ‘more emotional’ and you might struggle for a long time.”
I suppose I truly get what my therapist means now, when she told me that recovery for me was going to have to be ‘highly logical’ because these thoughts and feelings are so entrenched that recovery was going to feel awful and counter-intuitive. Because this feels like the worst, most painful thing I have put myself through. I’m struggling and I hate recovery and I want to give up, every day.
“Change is really, really difficult. Humans are resistant to change and it’s not going to be easy especially when beliefs are so deep rooted- recovery is difficult, but keep in mind what you want in life at the end of the day. Think of 5, 10 years down the road, it’s not going to get easier if you wait. What helps you short-term might not help you long-term but right now this is not helping you at all and you know it, it’s a downward spiral from here if you continue to self destruct.”
But no, I’m not going to give up. I’m going to push through because I know it’s the only way out of this, because I know the disorder will get me nowhere, because I want a life. I deserve a life. I’m going to try to be kind to myself despite how awful I feel. I deserve self compassion, I deserve to eat, I deserve to exist. That little girl inside deserves better than this eating disorder. I cannot keep doing this to myself, I cannot keep putting myself through this suffering. I want a life where I can live according to my values- love and compassion and adventure and authenticity and courage, not a life where I am led by fear and consumed by self-hatred. I’m never going to be sick enough or good enough for my disorder’s unrelenting standards- being ‘sicker’ doesn’t have real worth and ‘control’ is an illusion.
“The distress surrounding meals & weight is going to be there for a long time before things can start to change, and waiting to feel better about eating more, and then eating more isn’t going to work- the way to tackle the problem is doing what the anxiety doesn’t want you to and the first step in recovery is changing the behaviors, there is no getting around it, there is no ’emotional recovery’.
Choosing not to eat and not to gain weight is choosing not to recover.
Negative thoughts are just thoughts and thoughts have no power if we don’t give it power. It’s okay to acknowledge the negative thoughts, to see them as a passing visitor, you don’t have to listen to them or engage in them or even fight them. Sometimes it’s the most helpful to just acknowledge it and let it be.”
I’m going to push myself, because the only way out of this is walking through the storm- yes, I realize I cannot get around the storm, I’ve tried for a long time. I have to acknowledge that I am somehow very sick, or I wouldn’t be so hopelessly trapped in this. So no matter how rough this storm is, I have to push through, to trust the people on the other side and lean on them for support. To lean on myself for support, too, to trust that I have the strength in me to walk this recovery journey (even though I really don’t think I do- I’m dying) and to trust my body to carry me through this like it has carried my for the past 19 years and 3 months. My body will survive, I need to trust it to heal. I need to nourish it and trust it to do it’s thing.
“To answer the question of ‘how to recover’ it really comes down to the small, concrete steps you need to take- eating and tolerating the distress. Restriction numbs you, so until you’re stable and eating enough, we can’t work on the emotional stuff. Just because you’re used to the effects of starvation doesn’t make it okay.
Why do you hold onto your beliefs? You know these beliefs are not based on truth, and yet you choose to subscribe to your belief system and hold onto the belief that you are unworthy and you deserve pain. In order to recover you have start to let go of your beliefs and value systems. Even with an ED- if you continue to hold onto the value system of food & weight = worth, you will never get better. If you continue to believe that you deserve destruction, you’re going to end up destroyed.”
I think this is one of the biggest signs of progress, the biggest step I’ve taken in my entire journey- Doing it, choosing recovery, choosing light. Taking responsibility and ownership of my life/recovery, facing up to my biggest fears and deepest pain, like we’ve been talking about in therapy for years. Recovering despite how much I don’t want to. My therapist and friends are huge motivations to recover but I’m not doing it for anyone else- I’m doing it for me, for my future self and for my past self. I am finding so much compassion I didn’t know I had- compassion for myself and the pain that I am in, because this year has made me realize just how much pain lies underneath and how wounded and lonely my inner child is.
“I’m sorry, you definitely didn’t deserve to go through all of that and it is really really hard to deal with, being in a violent home has massive impacts on a child. Why are you hurting yourself when you’re angry at your parents? There is a lot of pain and we cannot control that. Recovery isn’t about making the pain go away, it’s letting the pain hurt us without having to suffer even more. It’s letting the pain hurt and being okay with it, and knowing how to deal with it. It’s important to not push the negative feelings and pain away, but accept and work with them. You just need to let yourself not be okay, you need to let yourself feel broken before you can start to feel less broken. You need to let yourself feel the pain instead of pretending the problems don’t exist, because this pain is very real.
And instead of having to have this ‘perfect image’, it’s okay to be broken and it’s okay to not know. Sometimes, instead of always figuring out how we feel, we need to stop and ask ourselves why. To embrace them, not in the way of saying ‘well that’s how it’s going to be forever’ but embrace them by accepting that they are okay. Pain passes, and pain can heal, but not if we’re burying it. Pain drives us to suffer and to destroy ourselves and that’s not my fault, but putting ourselves through even more suffering again and again isn’t going to help and by continuing to suffer, the only one who loses out is us. You can’t take away what people have done to you, you can’t take away the bad things that have happened to you, and that’s going to hurt, but what are you going to continue to do about it?”
What she needs is empathy and love and nurturing, not more destruction. I need to love her/myself unconditionally so I’m less terrified of abandonment- when I get scared of gaining weight, I soothe myself but reassuring my inner child that I will love her at any weight. It’s not about weight, it’s about that little girl inside who feels so alone and unworthy and invisible, it’s about the pain I’ve been running from. My disorder functions effectively to shut her away from me, hence, it was only when I started wanting to recover in December when I was vulnerable to the pain underneath erupting (which led to the great disaster of 2018) and it was only recently in recovery and allowing myself to be vulnerable that I could connect with that little girl and her pain. I don’t think I could forget that moment on the cruise balcony where I stood there at 2am crying. I deserve so, so much better than this. I deserve to exist.
“You can be a perfectionist even when it comes to recovery, see recovery as a black and white thing, and see your issues as something you need to ‘get over’ as soon as possible but recovery is a process and it’s okay. The negative thoughts and feelings will come, sometimes the best we can do is identify them and let them be, and we just have to try our best to do what helps us. You’re not going to wake up and magically feel validated and worthy and better. It’s in the small steps.”
Remember what you wrote that night after you cried over the pain of your illness, you wrote this for your future self because you knew you would want to relapse, you were looking out for her so remember this: You are sick. You are in so. much. pain. The weight of the pain and shame you carry is unbearable, so you try to run and it’s not your fault but self destruction is not the answer so stop fucking running. Stop. Breathe. Seriously, take a deep breath. It’s scary, but it’s okay, I see you and I am here for you. It’s scary but it’s better than self destruction, I promise. You’re not alone anymore, you’re safe now. You’re not going to be abandoned anymore and even if you are- you can cope. Read that piece again. Your disorder is not home. Leave the abusive relationship, it has been almost 7 years. Leave. You can do so much better than this miserable half assed life-but-not-a-life. Stop running away. It’s okay to hurt!!! I give you all the permission to cry and scream and throw things. Be angry, you deserve it. Cry. Reach out and give that little girl inside a hug. Tell her she deserved better. You deserved better. Cry again if you must, then stand up to the voices and lies in your head. Say it over and over- I deserve recovery. Food is medicine. Sicker is not better. Thinner is not better. Nothing is what it seems. I deserve to be okay. I deserve to feel and eat and laugh. I deserve happiness. Say it and then go and grab a snack and then fight. Fight this shit. You have it in you, you were born a fighter so why are you letting your fear stop you? Surrender control. Your weight doesn’t matter. Look inward with love and compassion. Choose freedom. Choose food. Choose light over darkness, ever time.
So when I look back at this I want my future self to remember this: This is your promise to yourself- your current self and younger self and future self. The promise that you will try no matter how hard it gets, you will always go back to choosing the light, because Dr K is right- it’s in your hands, your healing and your life is in your hands and only you can choose to get better. You can choose to let go of your illness and beliefs, you can change, you can heal- the only thing stopping you is your fear and your illness. You deserve to heal. You deserve a life. You deserve it and there is no waiting, it has been long enough. Live.
I want recovery more than I want to live like this forever.