This Process Changes Us

It doesn’t matter how hard we try not to change, it’s bound to happen. Every interaction we have, even the smallest, affects us. Sometimes we may not think things change us, but even on the slightest level, we are changed. In terms of recovery, we start this process because we want to change, but sometimes I’m not sure if we really know what we are walking into. When you are fighting in recovery, anything seems better than what you have at that moment – but when the change actually happens, sometimes we feel blind-sided.

In life, change is the only constant. I’ve written about it before, but lately it has taken a new meaning in my life. I’ve learned that change is the only thing that will save our life. We walk into recovery and this journey to save our lives, and to think we will walk out being the same is insane. In fact, we have this disorder because we are trying to prevent ourselves from really dealing with things/events in our lives that really do need to be dealt with.

I came across a blog recently. A husband photographed his wife’s journey through chemo and her treatment. It’s incredibly moving to see the story the pictures tell. Looking at this journey, it parallels any recovery process. In this particular process, you can see the physical change – but sometimes it’s not always physical. Any other recovery can look exactly like this process – physically or emotionally. Any recovery process changes you – whether it’s an eating disorder, alcohol/drug abuse, or harming behaviors – they all have a journey that has to be traveled through.

I’ve always had a tough time understanding the parallel my treatment team uses- they mentioned it is like recovering from cancer or any other disease – there are stages one has to go through, and it’s like walking through hell. You have to pull yourself from the brink of death and keep walking until you are finished. You walk a path unearthing pain in hopes of coming out on top – and a better person.

I’ve found that we choose this journey. Maybe we choose it because we want to live, we hit rock bottom or because what we are doing just isn’t working. No matter why we choose it, it is chosen. We do it knowing that when we walk out, we will be different; we hope to be different – because the eating disordered person just isn’t working.

When I went into treatment, I made my physical change of weight gain. Before I walked in, my therapist said, “this is the easy part, when you get out, that’s where the hard work starts” — she was right. The “easy” thing that changed was my digestion and weight (and learning about the eating disorder). Once the physical portion was stabilized, the hard work began. In this process, after the “emergency” was over, I was slowly becoming the person I’ve grown into today (side note – there is still more growing to go).
In any recovery, the changes have to be drastic, and they have to happen. They can’t be minuscule because they have to be life changes. When you are changing a “way of life” to find a “new way of life” the changes are nothing but momentous. They can be small steps that lead to bigger changes, or they can be huge leaps of faith.

For me, I was the ultimate people-pleaser. I went out of my way to stuff down my thoughts and feelings to make sure everyone was happy around me. I could walk into a room and determine the mood or feeling of everyone in it, and know what I had to do in order to make everyone happy. It didn’t matter what it took – I was able to change myself to make everyone around me happy. It’s kind of a sick talent if you really think about it.

Obviously, that didn’t work for me because it landed me in treatment.

I wasn’t myself. I wasn’t who God made me to be. I’ve found (so far) that God has made me to be an outspoken person who will fight for rights of anyone who needs it. God has created me to be spontaneous, witty and random. God has given me the pleasure to laugh at anything, and make others around me laugh as well. He has blessed me with having my own mind, thoughts and opinions… and to not be afraid to state them. He has allowed me to receive healing, tear down some walls and trust other people, including Him. He has made me an athlete, hard worker and a giver.

We can’t really be who we are unless we are willing to change. We also can’t find out who we are unless we are willing to look at ourselves free of judgment.

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