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Finding my “Why” in Recovery

by Empowered Member Abby Pousland

When I first started recovery I thought it was going to be quick and easy. It was so easy to say that I wanted food freedom, that I wanted to love my body, or that I wanted to live a life free from ED thoughts. Although in reality, doing what it takes to fully recover is SO hard. Increasing intake, challenging fear foods, and giving my body rest were things that I struggled to do daily. However, it's impossible to have true food freedom when I challenge my fear foods, only to have compensated for it earlier.

Learning to accept my body will never happen if I continue letting it determine how guilty I feel for eating. Living a life free from my ED will remain a dream if I don’t learn to accept the discomfort that comes from challenging myself to stop listening to it.

Throughout the ups and downs I’ve had in recovery over the past year, one thing that has kept me afloat when I’ve struggled the most are my “why’s”.

Your “why” needs to be a part of who you are as a person. You have to want recovery for yourself because at the end of the day, that’s all you’re left with.

At times I’ve struggled the most, I lost sight of the reasons I want to recover from my ED. Without my “why”, the ED gains the power to convince me that my recovered body isn’t good enough and it would be better if I restricted myself instead. My “why’s” remind me of all the things I won’t be able to do if I spend my entire life controlled by my ED. Every time the ED convinces me to restrict, I think of my “why’s." Although it can be really (really) hard sometimes, I resist the little voice in my head, and it slowly gets easier everyday, at each meal, and with every snack I eat; taking everything one step at a time and reminding myself of my “why’s”.

Developing strong ”why’s” has taken me until about the beginning of this December (which is nearly a year into recovery). At first, my “why” was to become weight restored and physically healthy again. This was great for the first four months of recovery, but once I was physically healthy again, my recovery began to lose momentum. Soon after, my “why” became being able to go and enjoy college. Although this worked getting me through the summer, I soon realized that college was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, so my recovery began to lose momentum again. These reasons for recovery were unsuccessful because they were temporary.

My most successful “whys” are long term goals that can’t be met in the near future.

  1. I want to look at myself in the mirror and smile.

  2. I want to be strong.

  3. I want to be a great nurse someday and take good care of others, which means I need to be taking good care of myself first.

  4. I want to go hiking and backpacking out West.

  5. I want to try new foods and new things without being anxiety ridden.

  6. I want to set a good example for my kids in the future so that they will have a good relationship with food.

When choosing my “why’s” it was important that they were either connected to some core belief I have or something I care strongly about. This makes them strong because anytime I feel like restricting, I am reminded that it goes against my “why’s” and therefore it goes against who I am as a person. So every time I listen to my eating disorder, I am letting it take away a piece of what makes me who I am.

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