On my first day of treatment, my therapist asked what was motivating my recovery. I thought I had lots of good answers for that question.
“I want to be healthy for my partner and the children we hope to have someday.”
“My eating disorder is preventing me from being fully present in my friendships.”
“I have young nieces who look up to me and I want to be a good example.”
She paused and then said, “Those are all nice reasons, but what do you get out of recovery?” I didn’t know how to answer that question. Nearly 18 months later, I still don’t have an answer.
Cheating the system
The truth is that my recovery has never been about me. I met the man who is now my husband when my disorder was at its worst. I wanted to be better for him. So, I sought help, I had difficult conversations with friends and family, and I started working towards recovery.
I saw my therapist once a week, but I was cheating the system. I logged meals I hadn’t eaten and claimed success in challenges I hadn’t taken on. To the outside world, I was making great progress. My loved ones were happy, so that was enough.
When my partner moved away, I stopped going to therapy and relapsed.
As I looked towards our wedding, I wanted nothing more than to undo all the physical changes I had experienced in six months of recovery. My wedding dress became more important than any of the motivators I shared with my therapist when my recovery journey began.
Thankfully, I eventually found my way back to treatment, this time assembling a team that included a physician, a therapist, a psychiatrist, and a dietitian. With their help and a stronger sense of commitment, I got my first taste of how good recovery can be.
I still struggle to define the “why” of my recovery. Like many, I miss my eating disorder. I miss the physique I used to have and the control I felt. But, for the first time, I’m looking inward for motivation.
I am chasing the peace and joy I felt on my wedding day. I’m asking for what I need from the people around me, and I’m making my recovery about me.
I’m being selfish – and that’s exactly what I need. Odds are, you might benefit from being a little more selfish too.