Tag Archive | addictions

What Are You Afraid Of?

I used to be afraid at night. Afraid of the dark. Afraid that just beyond the point my eyesight allowed me to see that there was something lurking. Afraid that the darkness itself would somehow surround me and swallow me up…as if darkness were anything more than simply the absence of light.

I used to be afraid of tomorrow. Afraid that who I was would continually dictate who I am, and that who I would be might be someone who I didn’t like very much at all…as though there was no such thing as being made new.

I used to be afraid of opinions. Afraid that though words would not break my bones, they certainly would shatter my dreams…as though I started doing this for the approval of many, rather than the glory of One.

I used to be afraid of failure. Afraid of losing. Afraid of falling. Afraid of being wrong, creating busts, and looking absolutely stupid, because who am I to think that I could ever actually make a difference? As if those setbacks were anything more than the laying down of stepping stones on the path to success.

I used to be afraid.  Used to.

But then I did a little research.  And by that, I mean I re-searched, and I re-searched, and I re-searched, over and over again, and through all of my re-searching, I kept coming up with the same exact question:

What room does fear have?

What room does fear have when I cling to TRUST? What room does fear have when I lean on HOPE? What room does fear have when I search for something more, when I discover and realize what’s good, and when I stand in AWE? When I run with PERSEVERANCE, when I walk by FAITH, and when I rest in COMFORT. What room does fear have when I sing with PRAISE, when I take hold of INSPIRATION, explore the POSSIBILITIES, and step into FREEDOM? What room does fear have when I discover STRENGTH, EMBRACE COURAGE, REMEMBER PEACE, DECLARE TRUTH, CHOOSE JOY, EXPERIENCE LIFE and CONQUER DEATH? What room does fear have when I find perfection in the one place I never thought to look? In weakness, when I’m saved by the most unlikely of heroes. By grace, when I’m invited into a relationship more loving and intimate than I could ever imagine, as a child of God.

I’ll ask you again: what room does fear have when I step out of the darkness, and I bask in the light? When I let the past be the past and the future has no limit. When they can talk all they want, but their opinion doesn’t matter! And when failure is nothing more and nothing less than the road by which I walk my path to success.

I’ll ask you one last time: what room does fear have when in His Word, He tells me three hundred and sixty-five times DO. NOT. BE. AFRAID. As if I needed to hear that every single day. And as if that’s how many times I needed to hear it before I finally believed it.

What room does fear have when I make room for LOVE?

What are you afraid of? 

 

-Jon Jorgenson

 

Here is the video if you want to watch him speak it.

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Faithfully His

As I think back to how I managed the last long, hard stretch of recovery, I know that what did it for me was my faith. It doesn’t matter if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder like I was, or if your addiction is alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, or something else. What I learned is that, with my strong-hold, I had to submit myself to a higher power, and realize that I could not do it all myself – I needed to seek strength from God. In doing so, my recovery took a turn, and I had the strength to get through times that felt unbearable. No longer did I need to find my own strength to endure because I had His. Through recovery, I learned that I am Faithfully His.

God has given his Word to learn from and enjoy. To refresh us. To call out the desire for relationship with Him that He’s planted deep within our souls. To speak to our hearts. To show us who He is. To awaken us to our failings, but then to draw us toward the restorative, redemptive blessings.

His Word is not a chore. It’s life. It’s love. It’s the living truth. It’s not just to read. It’s to be absorbed. To bathe in. To breathe in. To live by. To inspire us, to reshape us. To define us. That’s because it’s alive. It’s not a book written with historical data for your information but animated by His Spirit for your edification – to speak intimately and personally to you regarding His purposes for your life.

The Word is there to help us keep our way, and without it we can lose our strength. In a world inundated with ideas to the contrary, it is our constant reminder of who we really are, why we are here, and who we really belong to.

You are His, and His Word helps to keep your sure of that. Just as she stated, here is a lengthy list of affirmation statements created by Priscila Shirer from her book The Resolution for Women, taken directly from the Word of the living God. They’re not direct quotes, but they recast the theme of the referenced verse so you can declare it in first person.

As you audibly speak these biblical statements over your life (or your loved ones) your mind will be renewed, your faith will be strengthened, and your attitude will be transformed. “Faith come from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.”

prayer_3

This lengthy list doesn’t have to be read or spoken all at once, but it’s there if you need something fast and short to speak aloud to get through difficult moments. (I actually wrote scriptures on note cards, put them on a key ring, and kept them in my purse for easy access).

Without further ado: 

  • I love the Lord my God with my whole heart, soul, and mind (Mark 12:30)
  • I walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do to me (Psalm 118:6)
  • I am competent not in my own abilities but he has made me competent by His spirit that gives me life (2 Corinthians 3: 5-6)
  • I abide in Christ, He abides in me and I bear much fruit. Apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5)
  • I have the mind of Christ; therefore I act in a way that is consistent with His actions (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • You will never leave me nor for sake me (Hebrews 13:5)
  • I do not look with disdain upon my weaknesses. I see them as opportunities for God to display his powerful strength and grace through me (2 Corinthians 12:10)
  • No weapon formed against me can prosper, and every tongue that rises up against me in judgment will be condemned (Isaiah 54:17)
  • I will be hospitable without complaint (1 Peter 4:9)
  • I will not use my tongue to speak cursing, but rather I will speak life-giving blessings to everyone I meet any and every situation I face (James 3:8-10)
  • The Spirit in dwells me; therefore I am the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16)
  • I am faithful over a few things, and I will be made ruler over many (Matthew 25:23)
  • I humbly submit to God, and actively resist the work of the devil, knowing he must flee from me (James 4:7)
  • I will not give the enemy opportunity or foothold in my life (Ephesians 4:27)
  • The One who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)
  • I choose to obey the Lord and receive the prosperous abundance and blessing He will bestow on me (Deuteronomy 30:8-9)
  • My heart keeps the Commandments of God. They will add length of days and peace to my life (Proverbs 3:2)
  • I walk by the Spirit and do not fulfill the desires of my flesh (Galatians 5:16)
  • I am enabled to exhibit the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • The Lord guards my going out and my coming in, today and forever (Psalm 121:8)
  • I rejoice in the Lord wheter circumstances are good or bad (Phillipians 4:4)
  • I will not be afraid when I lie down and my sleep shall be sweet (Proverbs 3: 24)
  • I obtain the favor of the Lord (Proverbs 12:2)
  • The Lord is in my midst, and He sings over me with joy (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • I am the apple of my Father’s eye (Deuteronomy 32:10)
  • Goodness and mercy will follow me not only today but all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6)
  • I have been made in the image and likeness of God himself. This is my heritage (Genesis 1:27)
  • I have not been given the spirit of this world, rather, I have the Spirit of God that I might know the mind and will of God for me (1 Corinthians 1:12)
  • I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16)
  • My steps have been ordained and ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23)
  • I only allow my mind to entertain what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, noble, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
  • I long for the pure milk of the Word that I may grow to spiritual maturity (1Peter 2:2)
  • I seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14)
  • I am a necessary and useful part of the body of Christ, and I will use my spiritual gifts to edify others (1 Corinthians 12:7)
  • Faith, hope, and love -especially love- abide in me (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • I have been given victory in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 15:57)
  • I am meek, and I will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)
  • I extend mercy to others, and I will in turn receive mercy (Matthew 5:7)
  • I have a pure heart before God, and I expect to see His manifest presence in my life (Matthew 5:8)
  • I discipline myself for the purpose of godliness since it holds promise for the present life as well as the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8)
  • My ambition is to be pleasing to Him and him alone (2 Corinthians 5:9)
  • I do not judge fellow believers so that I will not bring judgment on myself (Romans 2:1)
  • My priority is to seek first the kingdom of God’s righteousness, and I expect all needed, secondary things to be added onto me (Matthew 6:33)
  • I am a true worshiper I worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23)
  • I do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3)
  • Rivers of living water flow out of my inner being (John 7:38)
  • I have been chosen by God to bring forth fruit that shall remain (John 15:16)
  • I am a brand-new person my old sin nature has passed away, and everything has become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • No matter my past, I am forgiven of my sins because of His grace upon me (Ephesians 1:7)
  • I have been given every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3)
  • Because he was wounded, I am healed (Isaiah 53:5)
  • In Christ, I am whole and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4)
  • Whatever I ask for in prayer according to the fathers will, I believe that I have received it (Mark 11:24)
  • I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. I am one of God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9)
  • I will not be afraid because I know the spirit of fear is not from Him. He has given me the spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I am not a stranger to God. I am a citizen of God’s kingdom and a member of his household (Ephesians 2:19)
  • I have been sealed by the Holy Spirit who indwells me. He is a pledge from the Father of my coming inheritance (Ephesians 1:13–14)
  • I am a masterpiece created in Christ Jesus in order to walk in the good works He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10)
  • For freedom I have been made free. I walk daily in this gift of freedom (Galatians 5:1)
  • I am dead to the power of sin (Romans 6:11)
  • I have been raised with Christ, and I sit with him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)
  • I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13–14)
  • I will not fear because the Lord is my light, my salvation, and the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1)
  • The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
  • I trust completely in the Lord; therefore I will be like a fruit-bearing tree that continually finds nourishment despite dry, parched weather (Jeremiah 17:7–8)
  • No good thing will the Lord withhold from me as I walk uprightly before Him (Psalm 84:11)
  • Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and I will do the worlds that He did (John 14:12)
  • In Christ I have become a child of God, and I receive the blessings God has for me(John 1:2; Romans 16:17)
  • In Christ, God has chosen me as His own and made me strong. He has placed His mark on me. He has placed His Spirit in my heart as a guarantee for all he has promised (2 Corinthians 1:21– 22)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

believe

Today God invites you to live a life marked by faithfulness. By his Spirit and with the guidance and encouragement of His Word, this is an absolutely attainable goal for you. No matter what your past has held, this resolution can mark a new beginning. Read the resolution prayerfully and hold it in your heart when you are ready. You are Faithfully His.

Dumping Your Friends

Our friends and important people/relationships come into our lives for many reasons and at many stages in our lives. Sometimes we may have been in strollers beside one another, taken family vacations together, met in college, or met in our adult life. Friends come in various forms – acquaintances, casual relationships, close friends and intimate friends. I hold my trusted relationships near and dear to my heart, and take all friendships seriously. I am a firm believer that everyone comes into your life for a reason and that we have something we can learn from every relationship and interaction.

However, not every friend that you will make in your life is meant to stay – this is a harsh, true and sad reality. Sometimes our friends in our lives are cannot stay, and it hurts.

Sometimes enforcing your boundaries means telling the person to stop, and not letting them continue behavior that is not healthy for you. But sometimes enforcing boundaries means that you need to simply walk away from the relationship entirely.

People talk a lot about breaking up with our girlfriends or boyfriends, our husbands and wives… but frequently we don’t realize we can break up with our friends too. And, unfortunately, sometimes it’s necessary, and can be incredibly difficult.

Ending a relationship is hard, but in many ways, ending a friendship can be harder. You may feel as though this means you’ve “failed” somehow, and you may have a hard time of letting go of a relationship that’s lasted for months or even years. You may also worry that this is going to mean that you’re going to have to give up your entire social circle or end up having no friends at all. These are all valid and reasonable fears. Letting go of a long-term relationship, platonic or otherwise, is scary, but sometimes necessary. I have had to make these decisions, and can say it has been the best decision I have made for myself. Your self-esteem, your mental and emotional health is far more valuable than putting up with someone who tries to undermine you, or just isn’t healthy for you.

I’ve learned many lessons with friends (or when ending friendships) in my life and a few are listed below:

Lesson #1: Don’t let your loyalty become slavery – Never compromise your self-respect

I am far from perfect, but I do take pride in being honest and loyal to my friends. I’m the friend that is often mistaken as a family member who will pick you up from the bar at 2am and give you anything to help you feel better if you’re sick. My love for you is unconditional, and I will always be there for you when you need it. In relationships, sometimes there are “givers” and “takers.” What works the best is when you are both givers, and give equally. However, when someone fails to reciprocate the type of friendship you’ve given to them, it may be time to call it quits. Don’t let your loyalty become slavery. Don’t allow your commitment to being a good friend shackle and harm your spirit. Never compromise on self-respect, and know when enough is enough. If you are friends with a “taker” (meaning a person who never gives back), it can get exhausting, and you don’t have to continue to “give” if that is the case. If your friend always expects from you, but never gives or fulfills anything for you, it might not be the best relationship.

Lesson #2: Characterize people by their actions, not their words

By far one my biggest pet peeves is saying one thing and doing another. This can come in many forms. This can be in the form of making plans and breaking them, or saying you are one type of person but acting a different way. Learn to characterize people by their actions, not their words.

If you have that one friend who is constantly promising and never delivering, it’s time to accept that this pattern doesn’t change, but continues… unless you do something about it. Talking to them about it, or bringing it to their attention could be helpful, and if they are a true friend they will hear it.

If you have a friend who might have a different value system than you, there could be a clash of beliefs and ways of life. If your friend makes you feel bad about yourself or is always negative – it’s okay to distance yourself from them if it’s not a healthy place to be. Your friend’s actions will tell you who they are and how true they are to you. Their actions will also tell you if your value systems line up together, or if there is a disconnect.

Lesson #3: You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with their actions

This one is more difficult to accept. Not everyone is able to apologize and admit when they’re wrong. You can’t change someone who doesn’t see an issue with their actions. A sincere person can wear the shoes of others, admit when they’re wrong, and will go out of their way to make things right again. Someone who refuses to do this out of pride (or anything else) is not someone you can learn and grow from. Being able to admit when you’re wrong, even in the toughest of circumstances, makes you a good person. If you are faced with (and upset by) people who can’t apologize for their actions, or don’t see issues in what they do, it’s probably not going to change until they make that change within their self. You will not change them, and holding on and getting hurt will do nothing but put you through more pain.

Lesson #4: You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships

Walking away from a friendship that no longer benefits you in a healthy way isn’t wrong; it means you’re a stronger person for doing so. Being able to accept that this person is not inherently bad, just not healthy for you and your life, is what makes you noble. You are allowed to terminate toxic relationships. You have to respect yourself enough to leave behind people and situations that no longer serve you in a positive way. As much as you care about the friendship, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else, especially when you know they wouldn’t do the same for you. I have learned that not everyone feels the same way about people and relationships that I do, and that is okay. I would rather have 2-3 close relationships than many toxic ones that I’m holding onto.

When I spend my time during the day, I want my time to be positive and I want it to be appreciated. If I give my time to others, I want to know that it would be reciprocated if I ever needed something back. I have been in situations where I realized that the “giving back” is not going to be reciprocated, and it’s not something fun to realize in a moment of need. But, this is how we learn in life.

Since I’ve recovered, I’ve learned the importance of finding health and maintaining a healthy balance everywhere in my life. One of those things to balance is relationships with others. So, whether it is a best friend, coworker, casual friend or acquaintance who is doing the “taking” and not necessarily “giving” back, it’s okay to reevaluate relationship boundaries and begin to place healthy ones for yourself.

So, if you choose to end or distance a friendship, know that you are making a choice for what is healthy for you and the relationships you want in life. Your friend may think you are selfish and unforgiving, but that is for them to feel/deal with, and you don’t owe you any explanation for finally taking care of yourself the way you deserve.

Dating in Recovery: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Healthy relationships are very important as you recover. This is a really good article with a few questions to think about. As I journeyed through recovery, I found that these were some questions I pondered in therapy (even though I’m married) because I had to make sure I was fostering a healthy relationship with my husband. I didn’t want us to be enmeshed, and I wanted us to have a healthy relationship. A couple is a coming together of two healthy and independent people to form a pair, where one is not dependent on the other, but instead they are partners. This article is totally worthy of a read if you are in recovery and entering the dating world, or will at some point.

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Dating in Recovery: 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

Dating-in-recoverySo you’ve begun to get the cravings under control and are starting to rebuild your life. You’re changing habits, changing your thinking and feeling hopeful about the future. As you begin to find more enjoyment throughout your days, you might also be thinking it would be nice to have someone to share all these beautiful things with. But before you jump head first into dating, or a relationship, you need to ask yourself if you’re really ready for dating in recovery. While finding that special someone to share your life with has many benefits, it’s also a big responsibility. Below are four questions to help you decide whether it’s time to write dating into this chapter of your life.

  1. Have you given yourself enough time to develop your ideal version of you?

Often during active addiction, we can lose our sense of self. We’re attached to drugs, alcohol and/or behaviors which take a lot of our time, attention and resources. It’s not uncommon to quit an addiction and find yourself wondering just who you are without it. Many people find early (and even later) recovery to be a time of self-reflection and renewal. You’re rekindling old interests and finding new ones. You’re re-prioritizing your values and core beliefs about yourself and the world. You’re taking up new activities, hobbies and friends. Your life is changing in many ways, and it’s important not only to enjoy this process of change, but allow time for it to truly develop and take hold. If you shift your focus to another person too soon, you risk the possibility of shortchanging yourself on a solid foundation and developing a relationship with the person who matters most: yourself.

  1. How well do you know and trust your instincts?

Addiction and its underlying causes have a way of anesthetizing our gut reactions to people, places and things. Learning to trust your instinct can be a lifelong process, but it is of particular concern in earlier recovery. Learning to pay attention to internal alarms, as well as how to deal with them and make good decisions which will protect our best interests is key to a healthy foundation. If our internal measuring system for which we determine what is good and healthy for us isn’t fully developed, we can get into trouble. Relationships are vulnerable to this, and without a sense of who is good for us and who isn’t, it’s easy to get into something with someone who will only bring us down.

  1. Is your personal strength independent of others?

Sometimes being in a relationship can make us feel strong. We feel as though we can conquer anything – as long as we have the other person. This thinking might be romantic, but it is impractical at best. Sure, we want to be with someone who has our back (so to speak), but we need to know that we have our own. It’s important to be able to stand on our own two feet whether we are in a relationship or not. What if the person you’re with begins to threaten your recovery? Maybe they have addiction issues of their own? Maybe they hurt you or don’t support your recovery. Are you strong enough to decide when the relationship is no longer worth the threat to your overall happiness and well-being? Are you strong enough to leave? Even if the relationship is absolutely wonderful, are you strong enough to endure a break up if things don’t work out? If you feel like any of this might jeopardize your recovery, you might want to hold off until you’re feeling a little more confident in your strength and independence.

  1. Are you using a relationship to escape?

It’s not uncommon to find someone who is using dating or a relationship to take them away from reality. Are you feeling bored? Tired of focusing on your recovery? Feeling lonely? If you answer yes to these questions or others like them, you might want to look a little more deeply at your motives for seeking out another person. Love can be a powerful distraction and infatuation perhaps an even stronger one. So many chemical changes take place when we are interested in someone, love and infatuation act very much like the substances we were once dependent upon. It is critical that you be honest with yourself as to why you are wanting to date or get involved with another person. If it’s for any reason other than to share this super amazing life you’ve been building for yourself, then it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate your motives.

The link to the page on the internet, from the site practicalrecovery.com, can be found here.

The Things Ed (and Addiction) Steals From Us

The eating disorder, or any addiction for that matter, is much more than a psychological or physical reliance on behavior or substances; it’s a physical, emotional and spiritual issue that puts blinders on our perspective, corrodes our value systems, and compromises our ability to prioritize normally. It literally takes over our life slowly and begins to damage every part of our being.

Over time, the eating disorder (or addiction) becomes our most important priority. And in order to continue fueling its demanding and ravenous needs, we must sacrifice other important aspects of our lives.

As I looked back on recovery and though about the damage it has done, I’ve realize that, like any other addiction, the eating disorder had affected everything in my life that was meaningful. I’m so thankful that I am recovered and that the eating disorder no longer has the control over any aspect of my life.

Ed (and addiction) is a thief, and these seven things are its most common targets:

  1. Relationships

relationship Relationships2

Watching someone suffer from an eating disorder or addiction can be both heart wrenching and infuriating. Although no one wants to isolate someone they love, our behaviors and mentality during active addiction often force family and friends to want to walk away. Our refusal for help and the want to engage in unhealthy behaviors makes for the worst combination. Ed quickly steals our most cherished relationships.

  1. Success

success success2

Whether it’s performing well at work, honing our talents or continuing to learn, things that once made us feel successful are replaced by the eating disorder. The eating disorder is very good at stealing our passions and diminishing the quality of our efforts. It makes us feel like we aren’t good at anything and we will never be worthy. This is a lie.

  1. Time

time - Copy time2 - Copy

Possibly the most important commodity in life, our time is forever fleeting. Every minute, day or decade that we sacrifice to the eating disorder becomes stolen time we’ll never get back.

Aside from the life-shortening, physical consequences of our destructive behaviors, being active in our eating disorder also steals the quality, purpose and value of our time. I never realized how much time was lost until I was far in recovery and actually productive with my time and enjoying things. I was so wrapped up and consumed in the rituals of the eating disorder and I didn’t have any real time to actually live!

  1. Gratitude

gratitude gratitude2

Addiction rewires the pleasure centers of our brain. Whether it’s a sunset, a child playing, or a good friend’s contagious laugh, we slowly become unappreciative to the meaningful moments in our lives. Experiencing the world through a veil of the eating disorder makes seeing or feeling things we once loved increasingly more difficult. The eating disorder makes us lose meaning in what is important in life.

  1. Spirituality

spirituality spirituality2

Whether it’s through religion, nature, philosophy, art or anything else, spirituality is an important aspect of our human experience. The eating disorder quickly steals our wonder and peace; it destroys our ability to dream. In the deepest of my eating disorder, trying to dig myself out, I realized that I was drawn so far from my faith that I didn’t know who I was anymore. This may have been the most detrimental loss for a period of time. Everything loses meaning when you lose your faith. Finding my faith and my relationship with God again is what saved my life. There is a reason why Alcoholics Anonymous has a focus on a higher power.

  1. Happiness

happiness happiness2

Once we lose our loved ones, our ambition, our gratitude and our spirit, happiness becomes harder and harder to hold onto.The eating disorder promises us happiness, but simply supplements our discontent with short-term escapes. It continues to raise the bar on us as we continue to strive for what is promised. As we work harder for the happiness, it seems to get farther and farther away. As we begin to lose our happiness, it also becomes easier to steal our hope.

  1. Hope

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Once addiction steals everything else, the only remaining thing to steal is our hope. From recommitting to future goals, to mending our broken relationships, the hope of regaining our lives is continually taken as we remain in active in the eating disorder. To regain hope, we must first recognize the culprit that has taken everything away. Not everyone experiences addiction the same, but the disease is predictable in terms of what it steals from us. The eating disorder and addiction is a thief of our time, our minds, our hearts and our relationships. After taking everything else, addiction also tries to steal the hope of our recovery. These are the points in recovery when you want to give up, turn and run or feel like you can’t go on anymore. I saw a pattern in my recovery when I frequently said, “I need to take a break from all of this.” What that really meant was that I was beaten down, tired of fighting, and worn out from the loss of hope for being fully recovered. However, quality treatment programs offer millions of individuals hope when there seems to be none. I was very lucky enough to have a treatment team that recognized those statements and didn’t allow me to “take a break” from appointments. I think when we journey in recovery, this is one of the firs things we get back. Once we begin to regain our hope of recovery, we can also begin to recover the other stolen parts of our lives.

The good thing is, these things can be given back. Although we can never get back the time that was lost in the eating disorder or addiction, we can spend time building new relationships, memories and successes. Once we decided we want a healthy life (and it is possible) we can immediately have hope as we enter treatment to begin the journey toward finding our self. As we find success in recovery we learn to value gratitude and see the little things in life, feel true happiness, regain our sense of spirituality and everything comes back around, full-circle. Although we momentarily lose some things, through recovery we learn valuable lessons and become stronger for it.

Strong(her)

I have been thinking back on the years of therapy, and looking at how far I’ve come, as I patiently wait to completely finish and I thought about how much shame and embarrassment I felt for even having an eating disorder. I wanted to hide this disease from everyone and if people found out I was terrified they would judge me. I can’t say I’m one who broadcasts it to the world, but I can say that I no longer feel shame for saying an eating disorder was a part of my life. I no longer feel shame or embarrassment attached to the idea.

I think we live in a world where eating disorders are seen as something that is vain, and many people don’t understand them, but we also live in a world where the stigma of mental illness is losing the grip it once had. In this information age, people are realizing more and more that illnesses like depression isn’t just something that people can “get over” and smile through, and eating disorders aren’t about beauty and food.

So, what if you looked at the eating disorder through a different lens –  How would you view yourself?

Think about.

What if you saw it as something that wasn’t so shameful, or embarrassing? What if it was just something that you needed for a time period? What if it was something that you turned to for help for a period of time because you didn’t know what else to do? Would you cut yourself a break? What if it was just a coping mechanism, or a survival mechanism, to get you through a terrible life situation, or to help you deal with something that was so traumatic or difficult? You know, like a survival skill you learned.

How would you view yourself now?

Would you view yourself as having a shameful flaw, or would you view yourself as being strong for figuring out how to survive? Given the situation that you were in, you found a way to manage (Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a healthy way to manage, but you found a coping skill when you had none, even if it was an unhealthy coping skill – and you didn’t end your life). When things were so hard to deal with, you found a way to handle what you were going through… you were able to say, “It’s okay, I’m going to do ______ and I’m going to be okay.” You made an attempt to “be okay.” You wanted to be okay. You fought to be okay when you felt like you had nothing else. Doesn’t that make you strong?

Think about it.

What does it say about you going into recovery? It says that you no longer need the eating disorder because it no longer serves a purpose in your life. You are willing to accept help and change. You’re now even stronger than you were before because you are willing to learn new and healthier ways to cope with life. Maybe it did serve a purpose for some time, but now you realize that it no longer does what it used to do for you. You’re stronger because you can see that these disorders kill.

Sure, it was a maladaptive coping skill, but that maladaptive coping skill saved your life for a period of time. It kept you fighting through a difficult situation – whatever it might have been. Now you’re learning new coping skills; healthy ones. You don’t need the eating disorder because you don’t have to do it on your own anymore. You are stronger because you are willing to save your own life now – you don’t need the disorder to do it for you.You don’t have to figure it out on your own anymore because you have support.

Think about it.

You’re eating disorder doesn’t make you weak… It makes you strong because you thought to hold on and find a way to “be okay” in a dysfunctional situation you might have been in. You did what you had to do to get through, but now you don’t need that survival skill anymore. You were strong by yourself for long enough. Now, in order to stay alive, we have to let go of that maladaptive survival skill we learned because it doesn’t fit in our lives anymore. Each day you are even stronger because you are learning to live without it. Recovery is for the strongest ones.

strong her

Equanimity

There are many times when life moves too fast. It’s unavoidable. Because it’s unavoidable, you have to find a way to deal with it. One of the best ways to judge how successful a person will be in life is how well they deal with adversity. When adversity comes into our lives, we have to find a way to deal with it in the most healthy and productive way.

Unfortunately, some of us aren’t afforded the opportunity to be taught the necessary skills to deal with adversity or emotions in the best way. Don’t get me wrong… I dealt – just not in a healthy manner!

I grew up in a very chaotic household (to say the least) where there was no sense of stability or coping whatsoever. I wasn’t sure what was up or down, nor was I ever aware of what was going to happen any time a parent walked through the door (both alcoholics). At any moment everything could go from peace to complete chaos and pandemonium without warning. I learned to always be on guard and in defensive mode and to stay protected at all times. I carried this defense mechanism with me throughout life.

Through yeeeeeeeears of therapy I have learned that it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, that used to be my normal, but that was only because I didn’t know what a true “normal” was. I knew that my “normal” wasn’t really a  “ healthy normal”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see how to get to a “ healthy normal”.

So, this eating disorder, although very plaguing, has taught me a lot about life and myself. I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about what it really takes to live a healthy and balanced life. One thing that I think I have always tried to look for, but wasn’t sure how to do it, is equanimity.

e·qua·nim·i·ty  /ˌekwəˈnimədē/

noun

1.      mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

(Nerd alert! That’s your fun English word of the day!)

Back story: I was very good at doing this in sports, but for some reason the idea of “clam during chaos” didn’t translate into my personal life. In the middle of any high intense game in college I could search for composure and calmness, and discipline myself to search for clarity, BUT I’ve wondered why I couldn’t do it in personal life situations…. and it hit me… emotions and feelings were holding me back…. oh those feelings!!! 🙂 I think we are often blinded by our feelings and it prevents us from being able to see and think clearly.

Emotions and feelings can sometimes be a full-body experience. They can be an interplay between our thoughts and our sensations. One person once described to me this formula:

Thoughts + Body Sensations = Emotions

For instance, a kind of giddy happiness and anxiety might have the same sensations, such as tight muscles and a pounding heart. What determines whether we feel happy or anxious are our thoughts. So, when we start having thoughts and sensations we might have to navigate and do some searching for what the true feeling is behind it all. I have to admit, the hardest ones to navigate through are the negative ones as they often feel like they are the most powerful.

I’m still trying to figure out this whole “figure out your feelings” stuff…. So here is my short (and probably incomplete) list that I think about when I start figuring out my feelings… and start searching for equanimity.

  1. Acknowledge my feelings without judgment
  2. Accept my feelings as real and okay
  3. Sit with my feelings – they will pass
  4. Release my emotions in a healthy way

(This list is in no way complete so I don’t recommend dropping what your therapist has you doing because I’m no therapy guru!)

So, finding equanimity is a lot harder than it sounds!!! It’s not something that you can just start doing and perfect right away. When things are chaotic it’s hard to create a calm feeling. I’m not saying you necessarily go all yogi-meditative-tree-hugging-hippie to find some calming peace…

Yoga-Meditation tree hugger tree-hugging-hippy

But hey… if you want to do that… whatever floats your boat! 🙂

My goal is to try to look at what is going on in stressful times and search for where I can create some type mental calmness in situations/moments (note how I’m stressing moments because we have to start small, right?). By no means will it be perfect the first time I try it, but I bet it does come with practice. Even if it’s just bringing myself back to the present moment, not allowing myself to let the stress keep me in a bad mood, refusing to allow my thoughts race or change my plans. Really, I think the best way to start is to just be aware of feelings as they surface and then search for places to create moments of understanding equanimity. Once we understand and accept the feelings, we can begin to be at peace with them. [Goodness, if my psychologist could hear me now… I’m like a walking poster child for therapy and feelings!]

For me, I have learned that my center for equanimity is God. I recently felt extremely lost and “fell off the boat” and realized it was because I had not been cultivating my relationship with God. So, if you’re able to find what brings you to that mental peace, grab it and never let it go because that is what will sustain you through the meal plans that make you want to quit, the therapy sessions that are tough, and the moments that seem impossible to overcome.