Challenges come along, and we are forced to face them whether we want to or not. As they arise, things could have a tendency to get harder. As things get harder, they get scarier. When that happens we can often be triggered to use eating disordered behaviors to “feel better”. As I’m finding, eating disordered behaviors help me to feel numb and distracted, but it inevitably causes more pain and suffering. As challenges present themselves, using eating disordered behaviors initially feels like a way to take care of myself, but it actually causes me to become more depleted physically and emotionally.
“Take a step back to see the bigger picture.” This is some great advice given to me by my dietitian. This might be the single most difficult thing to do when you’re stuck in the moment with the eating disorder. I realized that I have to find a way to create space between actions and my reactions. If I can create space and let things calm, I could see there is more than what is in front of me which happens to be the number on the scale.
Choosing to stand up to challenges is not easy. I’m finding that standing up does not mean walking into battle like a Gladiator ready to win. I think “standing up” means to just not give up. That is somehow finding strength to either stand still, but not turn and run to the eating disorder. I think this is the hardest thing to do.
I’m at a place in recovery that is quite pivotal. This place is where I have a tendency to turn and run. By “turn and run” I mean throw the meal plan in the trash, use my eating disorder to attempt weight loss and I’m always certain it will work. I did not want to turn and run this time. Each time I would turn and run, I restrict and am faced with the refeeding process again. My problem is that I can’t step back from right is in front of me. It’s tough to do that in the moment. What I have to do is find a way to create space between actions and my reactions.
The only thing we can do is control ourselves. We can’t control others around us, but we can control how we react to them. Sure, sometimes things hurt or they don’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean the world has ended. If we can find a way to create space between actions and reactions, we will be able to see the bigger picture. Once we can pull ourselves out of that moment (that lasts for what feels like an eternity), we can make the right decision on how to react in a healthy way.
I went to yoga and thought about how I needed to create space and how I could do it. Let’s be honest, I didn’t have some amazing break through… I still don’t know the damn answer to how to do this, but I think all we can do is learn from our mistakes. I think our mistakes are there to teach us how much we want something and patience. After yoga I had to wait for my husband to pick me up and the plan was to wait at a coffee shop. I decided that I would have coffee, but the eating disorder battle started. I could go for no calories, or calories. I decided to go with calories. I love peppermint mocha drinks and I decided that the only way out of this is through. I chose to challenge to eating disorder because I choose to not be controlled, but be in control.
As I sat on my iPhone, I noticed that there were messages upon messages working on me. You know those times when you just keep getting signs to keep fighting. I believe there are always messages that we don’t see or aren’t ready to see – then when we are ready to receive them, they are loud and clear. As I scrolled through my social networking sites reading quotes, I was bombarded with messages of trusting in God and continuing the fight. I’m not kidding here…. in a few hour period, all of these quotes literally slapped me in the face:
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” -Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
Be willing to go the extra mile to maintain peace.
God doesn’t require us to succeed; he only requires that you try. – Mother Teresa
When trouble comes, always remember God is still there, He’s working, and He has a plan for you.
Pray first, act second.
Make up your mind that you’re not going to quit until you see the fruit of what God has placed within you.
Life is very interesting… in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths. – Drew Barrymore
A chief cause of failure is when we give up what we want most for what we want this moment.
People can sympathize with us, but only God can fix what ails us. Go to Him, run into His outstretched arms.
Face your deficiencies and acknowledge them. But do not let them master you. – Hellen Keller
I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. – Louisa May Alcott
Challenges in life aren’t there to break us down. They are there to help us grow. I think this is extremely hard to see, especially in the moment. Finding a way to reframe our thinking is necessary. It’s not something we can do, or make a plan to do, but it’s something that we need help with. That’s what treatment is for – to reframe our thinking and help us find a way through, when there is no path. Truthfully, we are all making our own path through this. Many of us wish we could just walk the path that is set for us, but there isn’t one of those that exist. If don’t walk our own path through the woods, we’ll never learn who we are and recovery won’t stick. So, when it gets tough, and we want to let go of the ladder and drop into the fire (analogy from another post), we have to remember that we will just have to make the climb again.
So, the advice to myself and many others…. keep going through…. find a way to trust the treatment team…. never give up.