Support In Recovery Is Key
We all have role models: athletes, celebrities, political activists, family, or close friends. No matter what position they hold, what matters is that they uplift and motivate you to become better in more ways than one. Maybe it’s their genuine kindness, their grit and determination, their work ethic, or their ability to support you regardless of your baggage. Having people in your corner to support you throughout recovery (and honestly, just in everyday life) is similar in many ways.
While in advocating for recovery, something I still do my best to drill into people’s heads is that having support is crucial. When you find someone to go through life with (ups and downs), it’s freeing. Having the confidence in being able to open up to someone who just gets you is a remarkable feeling while in recovery.
Recovery Is Not Linear
Something we all know is that recovery is not perfect. Even years after recovery has begun, lapses, slips, and complete relapses still happen. (Which, by the way, does not destine failure. Recovery is not a perfect process. Never forget that.)
Recovery is hard. Finding support is amazing. And while support groups are typically made up of those we love and trust, what happens when it goes downhill? Eating disorders are messy. The emotions that come along with them are absolutely draining. Eating disorders breed shame, embarrassment, and disgust, just to name a few. So, you can imagine it’s difficult when your support suddenly slips out from beneath your feet. Sometimes, they may further contribute to the guilt and shame you feel.
Bringing it back to the role models, let’s say my role model (and supporter) is one of my close friends. She inspires me to do better, be better, and we embrace the ups and downs together. What happens, though, when she flips the tables on me and claims my entire happiness is contingent on her? A burden she obviously doesn’t want. She guilts me, trying to make me believe that just because I looked up to her and told her how happy she makes me = my entire happiness relies on her. (Yes, this actually happens to some people.)
Whatever It Takes
I could spend countless hours trying to understand how mere support turned into something she viewed as a responsibility, or I could reconcile the hurt and confusion. They are both hard choices, don’t get me wrong. However, do not let someone make you feel guilty for bringing you happiness. Instead, show them (and yourself) how happy you can be regardless. Lean into your other supporters, talk it out in counseling, write down your feelings, do whatever it takes to heal!
I am here to tell you something: wanting support is not needy. Wanting support to help contribute to your health and happiness is not something you should feel bad for. Wanting support is not something you should be guilt-tripped for. Lastly, just because you trust someone to support you… doesn’t always mean they will. Sometimes there are people who merely don’t like being supporters, and they view it as a job rather than an act of kindness. That’s okay, you can’t change those people. Other’s actions are not your fault.
Sharing Leads To Caring
If you share the burden of eating disorders, experiences, feelings, and even relapses with people who truly support you: they will uplift and help you. Some individuals can’t handle that. That’s okay, maybe they have a lot on their plate as well! However, if they twist it into a situation where they feel like they have responsibility for your relapse just because you shared it with them… leave them behind. The extra guilt laid on your shoulders is not worth it. There are plenty of others who will love and support you unconditionally, make those your people.
Most of all, don’t give up. Recovery isn’t easy, and setbacks throw us for a whirl occasionally. That doesn’t mean you will be left out to dry. You have the choice to get up and dust yourself off, so do it!