Recovery In The Beginning: Embracing the Tough Stuff

eating disorder recovery embrace the tough stuff
It is often difficult to ascertain and discuss the beginning stage of recovery, as it is a time that is filled with pain and the unknown. This is often the stage when someone is questioning “is something wrong?” And if so, “what is wrong with me?” Perhaps others are telling you that you are in denial of what is really happening to you and your body. Maybe you know something is wrong but yet cannot quite place a finger on what it is. Maybe it is a time when accepting the label of an eating disorder is just too painful of an admittance.

All of the above is very natural and common to experience during this beginning phase, which I have labeled as “Broken,” or life and self lost.

I found in my research and with my clients that many people, including some professionals, wish to skip over this very real phase and move on to stopping self-harming behavior long before someone is able to understand their behavior. Where I agree that the stopping of behavior is very important, what is also important is to understand and pay attention to what is happening right now, and what “broken” means to you. What are you losing at this time? What have you already lost?

In my study broken was a very raw time when someone knew that she was missing out on time and life, becoming isolated and losing herself. There is often great self-loathing, self-doubt, self-hatred, feeling out of control, and misunderstood during this time. It is very important to be able to talk about these very real thoughts and feelings, as painful as they are.

To face the present pain of broken is a necessary and primary phase of the recovery process.

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If one can begin to face and hold the initial pain, what one may actually find is that from the pain comes the light. It is through the broken parts that you can find yourself once again. During a time that feels so out of control it can seem unimaginable that any good could be beyond it. However, sometimes we need to see, understand, and be with what feels broken inside before we can have hope that this can change. Therefore, it is important to talk about the current pain even though it may be frightening to admit to certain truths, such as, “I think I have an eating disorder.” Because it is such a difficult time we need more than ever to embrace it with compassion. The following are some helpful, compassionate statements to support and guide you during this phase:

*I recognize that something is wrong. This is all I have to know right now.

*I notice that other people are worried about me. I will compassionately allow this in and not fight it. I may not fully believe it, but I can still hear it.

*I will begin to listen to my inner knowing, including the messages from my body that are concerning to me. (Click to Tweet)

*I intend to continue to move toward the truth even though it is painful.

*It is okay to admit to these very real, scary, and dark thoughts and feelings I have right now.

*I will not criticize my current pain and in turn create more pain around the pain. What I am dealing with now is enough.

*I understand that the current pain and discomfort is necessary to face so I can move toward the light. (Click to Tweet)

*I understand that there is light beyond this pain, even if I do not feel it right now.

Trust that through the pain you can break back into life.

It is our grief, heavy, relentless, trudging, us, however resistant, to the decaying, and rotten bottom of things: our grief bringing us home (Walker, 2013, p. 19).

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