In a session long ago, my psychologist once said that something has to be broken before it can be healed. It’s true. We can’t be healed, or whole, until something in us breaks, or we are willing to come apart.
“The beauty of being shattered is how the shards become our character and our marks of distinction. This is how we are refined by our pain. When the storm rips you to pieces, you get to decide how to put yourself back together again. The storm gives us the gift of our defining choices. You will be a different person after the storm, because the storm will heal you from your perfection. People who stay perfect and unblemished never really get to live fully or deeply. You will not be the same after the storms of life; you will be stronger, wiser and more alive than ever before!”
- Bryant McGill
I have found that as I walk through recovery I get to choose and define the person I become. I get to choose how I live each day. I no longer live under the rules of the eating disorder and the unhappiness that comes with it. I get to choose what I like and dislike and I frequently step back and see the person I’ve become. I see the wisdom and strength I’ve grown into, and the beauty in my soul that I have saved.
It’s true, you know… I’ve been given the opportunity to save myself. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. I have been given the opportunity to decide to be willing and able to come to my own defense and save my self and nurture my soul. I’ve been given the opportunity to be healthy and happy, to restore my faith and trust in people and God and more importantly, myself.
There are times when I look at this process and I think about how long it (recovery) takes. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative of it all. It’s easy to see how I’m not finished and I’m not fully “recovered,” and that I still have to monitor my eating and exercise habits… but it’s also just as easy to look back and see that I’m no longer sick. It’s easy to see that I’m no longer in medical danger, on exercise restrictions, on strict meal plans, in intensive programs, controlled by the eating disorder etc. It’s also just as easy to look back and see how far I’ve come as it is to look ahead and see how much there is to go.
“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present. Gratefully. ” Maya Angelou
I had an amazing breakthrough last week while I was driving. I finally accepted that the eating disorder thoughts may never go away completely…. and that’s okay! For so long I was the person in treatment who said, “I will NEVER have ANY eating disorder thoughts in my life when this is over!” I’m not sure this is always possible being a woman in our society today. Many women have the same thoughts I have, but it’s just not a dangerous situation for them. My fleeting eating disorder thoughts are important to acknowledge as they are red flags for how I’m feeling and what’s going on in my life. They are a signal for stress. The same negative body image thought in my head, for many other women in the world, could be something harmless, but for me it’s a sign that something larger is going on that I need to figure out and address. Accepting this is HUGE (pun intended) and a turning point in recovery allowing me to move forward. These thoughts are NORMAL for women in our society and it would be NORMAL for me to have them if I didn’t have an eating disorder… I just need to know that these thoughts are my “stress signal” much like another person would get muscle tension, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, nausea etc.
Each journey will take however long it’s supposed to take. I always hear people say in church, “you are where you are supposed to be right now.” It’s true. I remember begging doctors to slow down the process when I was treatment, and then I found myself begging them to speed it up when I got out. I’m learning to accept the here and now, and attempting to do it as gracefully as possible (currently…. I’m tripping and falling on my face with that one! I’ve got some work to do on that!).
The “process” and I have a love/hate relationship. I respect it, but we are not on “hugging” terms. I will do what has to be done to continue the process, but I will certainly voice how much I’m not liking/loving/enjoying/appreciating the process. I like what comes out of the process, but I don’t like the process. I’m not sure I’ll really ever “like” or “embrace” the process… but I’ll keep doing it because it works. But I’ll also keep saying that I don’t like it. Because I don’t. 🙂
The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new – Socrates
After your storm is over, keep building the new, no matter how long it takes… in the end, it’s glorious. 🙂