When I was in the trenches of my disordered eating, there were so many times I felt that I was “ready” to move forward, I was “ready” for recovery, and I was desperate to make a change. I kept saying to myself, “I can do this, this will be the day.” But every single time I tried; I just couldn’t make it. I felt like I was a failure, repeating the same pattern over and over again. It was a vicious cycle that I couldn’t escape. And here’s the truth of the matter – I truly couldn’t!
But it wasn’t because I wasn’t good enough. It was because I didn’t have any other way to cope with my emotions and feelings. Turning to food was the only thing I knew that worked for me. I didn’t have the awareness, knowledge, coping skills, or the support that I do today. Basically, I went from having a single broken screwdriver to having a loaded toolkit.
I kept feeling like I was just hitting a dead-end in the beginning. I couldn’t really picture myself doing all these things FOR myself. It was very overwhelming to me because I just wasn’t at that stage yet where I felt like I deserved to take care of myself.
In order to start progressing on the things that I wanted/needed to be doing, I came up with the following visual exercise to process my thoughts.
I relocated from CA to IL last year, and one thing that my best friend and I used to do when we were much younger was drive through the mountains and explore all the winding, twisty canyon roads near Pacific Coast Highway. Even though these small roads with no shoulders had scenic views of the beach that were amazingly beautiful; if we went too fast or weren’t paying attention, we could have easily fallen off a cliff, damaged my car, or hurt someone else or an animal on the road.
This is EXACTLY what my recovery felt like to me when I was navigating it – a winding, challenging, and an intimidating road. Recovery is never linear, as it has been mentioned before. If you’re feeling the same way and having trouble applying it to yourself, try this:
Think of your body as a car, driving along a path similar to what I described. You may encounter some the following:
A stormy day with rain, and lightning (explosive emotions, chaos, some slippage may occur)
An animal/person crossing (an unexpected event that you have to slam on the brakes for)
A steep incline (exhaustion, recovery burnout)
A steep decline (this could be a trigger that you need assistance dealing with)
So using the car as our example - if this was your body, what would you need to do take care of it and make sure that it’s able to handle this pathway?
Perform regular maintenance (medical professional appointments, therapy appointments, Empowered RX work, etc.)
Brake checks (practicing coping skills/mechanisms)
Properly inflated tires with appropriate tread (consistent interaction with your support system)
Clean windows and mirrors (awareness about your disordered eating and reflecting on your actions and how to change them)
Lights that work correctly (seeking aids to help you through a dark times)
Gas (nutritious food, plenty of water)
Now of course, we are not cars! But this can be a gentle reminder that there are many moving parts to our recovery, (on the outside and the inside) and in turn, there are different parts of the road, and each peak and valley and curve brings its own experience (scenic view). As time goes on, you will become more comfortable with discovering who you are outside of your disordered eating, and you’ll be able to drive confidently down that road, with both hands on the wheel, ready for anything that comes your way.
And even if you skid a little in the rain, you’ll know how to prevent yourself from falling off the cliff.