How do you merge the selfishness that recovery requires with the selflessness that motherhood demands?
I wish I had a clear, concise answer to this question. But the truth is, I’m forging my way through this path on my own for the first time.
And it isn’t easy – but I’m learning as I go along.
Trying to rediscover who you are while raising children can feel overwhelming on your easiest day. You can’t predict how long this recovery journey will take or what you’ll stumble across along the way. But I know it will be worth it.
A tiny audience is watching
Throughout it all, your children are watching you.
They’re watching you grow. They’re watching you challenge yourself. And they’re watching you struggle.
But most of all, they’re watching you overcome and never give up. Recovery is thought of as so many things.
But how often do you think of it as an opportunity to teach your children that it’s okay to struggle deeply in life? How frequently do you stop to realize your effort will be their guidepost to picking themselves back up in life when ever they may stumble – and that shame doesn’t have to be part of it?
Even when it might feel like you’re being selfish for spending so much time on your own recovery, the actuality is that you never stop being a parent. You’re giving them an amazing glimpse into what it’s like to hunt down your own authenticity and to own it with everything you have.
Some of these life lessons will stick with them forever and resurface in their minds when they’re in some of their darkest times as an adult. Those memories will arise and they will think of you.
They will think of your work. And of your effort. They will think of your pain. And they will remember you never gave up. You fought with everything you had for as long as it took.
Because that’s what motherhood is.
We try to separate recovery from motherhood in our minds because these are two incongruent things, as we cannot be selfish and selfless at the same time. But in reality, recovery from an eating disorder is one of the most selfless things we can do for our children.
Your healing is their healing
Staying in the sheltering canopies of the eating disorder and living a life half-present is nothing short of selfish. It is a lie that our eating disorder uses to guilt us into remaining in the illness. It thrives by making us believe that forsaking our own needs is the only way we can truly care for other people.
The message that recovery is something we’re not worthy of because we don’t deserve of our own focus is perpetuated in our mind. The con that focusing on ourselves to recover takes away from our children is just that: a lie.
You’re healing is their healing. On the days you feel you don’t deserve recovery, remember this: you’re recovering for them. When you feel like you are not strong enough to fight for yourself: remember you’re fighting for them.
You are all connected in this battle, there is no way to separate out who’s effected and who’s not. Win or lose, illness or recovery, your choice is far reaching beyond just your own life.
The ripple of each wave is felt by everything in the ocean. So when you hear the words encircling your mind that you can’t recover because you’re a mom, pause. Your new mantra; your battle cry from here on out, is this: