Looking back at my 20 plus years of struggling with an eating disorder, I realize there are many situations I have found a reason to relapse.
Urges to use disordered behaviors may just pop up when my schedule is full and there isn’t “time” for lunch. Or maybe when we are traveling, when there isn’t anything I like on the menu. Then maybe my jaw hurts, or there’s holiday stress. Then before you know it it’s almost bathing suit weather, then family pictures are scheduled…the list could go on and on.
It seems like every where I turn, I am almost looking for reasons or excuses to turn back to eating disorder behaviors.
Can I do this?
After months of feeling strong in my recovery, the past few days I have had that old familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s gnawing at me and feeding my insecurities.
I have found myself playing the old mental games instead of being present in my life. Sometimes I get so lost in analyzing and wondering why, the analyzing actually becomes an excuse too.
I can get so tangled in the fears that l may never recover fully, I start to think I may as well just go back into the eating disorder.
In the darkest moments, I believe the voice that tells me I am not good enough to ever really recover. The voice tells me I’m just biding time until the next relapse. In this place, it seems I should just go ahead and quit wasting. Might as well sink right back in to the eating disorder, because it’s just going to happen sometime anyway.
In the past, I have acted on these self defeating thoughts.
An “aha!” moment
After two extremely tough days, tonight I had to sit down and write a letter for an organization I belong to. I went back and forth trying to decide what to write. Finally, I just threw some random ideas onto the blank document on my laptop.
As I wrote (and I was not writing about eating disorders) I realized that this writing exercise was helping me focus on all of the reason I fought for recovery in the first place.
This activity was exactly what I needed to serve as a reminder of why I need to choose recovery. And the fact that I need to choose it today, at this moment, and again in the next moment. And again in the very next moment.
At the same time, it was my reminder that just because I may not have made the best choice and hour ago, that doesn’t mean I can’t make a better choice now.
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I found my shoulders relax a bit. Sighing with relief, I was grateful to have found something to help me refocus on recovery.
It was almost like I needed an reason to recover.
And it occurred to me that there are probably just as many situations, signs, and circumstances around me that point me to recovery as there are ones that point me towards relapse.
And so maybe instead of always fearing the possible reasons for relapse that may head my way, I should be focused instead on consciously noticing all of the reasons to recover.
These reasons include my family, friends, health, and even the tiny pure sweet moments around me. Noticing a rainbow or a twinkling star in a dark night are reasons to recover.
Use your tool box
This writing exercise also reminded me of something extremely important. When I get that old familiar feeling, I need to pull something out of my tool box.
That might mean taking out my journal and writing. Sometimes it may mean putting on a podcast and going for a walk. It may even mean going to bed early or just enjoying a satisfying meal.
So now I know, I need to take out a tool and use it- no excuses!