I genuinely believe that focussing on the present is important to recovery. Too much focus on the past can hold you back and prevent you from living your life.
However, there are times when looking back over your recovery journey can be essential. It can help you see how far you’ve come (which can boost your spirits). It can make you realize how much you have achieved.
In my case, looking back on the past year made me realize how far I haven’t come. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing either.
11 months ago I made the decision to “recover.” I knew that I didn’t want my life to be ruled by an eating disorder anymore. I wanted it to make space for things that make me truly happy.
So, for the last 11 months, I have been referring to my journey as “recovery” – i.e. “I have been in recovery now for X months.” I was looking forward to my year anniversary, so I could say I had been in recovery for a year.
However, I was in for a bit of a shock in my first appointment with my university eating disorder team. The assessor kept referring to my recovery as “the point you consider yourself to have started getting better” or “the time you believe you decided to get better.”
Finally, I got the point.
I said, “You don’t really see me as in recovery, do you?” “No, I don’t,” she replied. “You’re still engaging in most of the behaviors you were 11 months ago. I think you use the word recovery to convince people you’ve stopped restricting, but I don’t think you have.”
Wow. I have spent the past 11 months assuming that I was in recovery because that is what I had decided I wanted. But evaluating my journey, I realized that I’ve just used “recovery” as a guise to explain my ups and downs.
Up & down
The problem is, it has been predominantly “downs.” I have restricted, over-exercised, and basically done everything possible to fight my own recovery and prevent it from taking place.
Yes, I have made some progresses, but I can see that I am still very much an eating disorder sufferer, and not an eating disorder recoverer.
And the only one I had convinced I was recovering was myself. I have been lying to myself, trying to justify my own behaviors.
Now, I feel thrown, and instead of seeing this massive distance between the me today and the girl back in January, I see her in me right now.
If, in January, I had made the decision to get better at anything else, I would have hoped to have succeeded in that by now. If I had had aimed to be a “better cook,” “better French speaker” or “better friend” and made no headway by now, I would be very disappointed in myself.
I would wonder what I had done wrong, what I could’ve tried instead. I would think maybe I hadn’t tried hard enough or put enough effort in. So why should the aim to be “a better me” be any different? Why, when faced with the task of recovery have I only treated it with complacency?
Knowing what I need to do
Only now that I have realized this and evaluated my own journey, do I know what I need to do. I can’t sit around waiting for recovery to happen, I have to make it happen. I have to be proactive, imaginative, enthused, brave and determined.
All the traits I would put to use with any other resolution need to apply to my recovery. Evaluating my own journey helped me see that I haven’t come as far as I’d like to, but the only way I can move from here is forward.
So, my self-evaluation and reflection has been a good thing. Perhaps I needed to be shocked into action.
So, warrior, take stock of where you are. If you aren’t where you want to be, or if you have become complacent, today is the day to make a change. You don’t have to let the past define you. You got this!