Candid Recovery

Keep moving FORWARD. March 13, 2014

Filed under: Recovery — Marie M. @ 14:15
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Keep moving FORWARD.

If something in your past is keeping you down, don’t let it in your present. That way, it won’t stand a chance in your future.


IT’S ALL WORTH IT. October 19, 2012

Filed under: Recovery — Marie M. @ 06:38
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Last weekend, my fiance and I were going through our closets, replacing colorful summer clothes with chunky, cozy winter sweaters. After all, none of my sun dresses and breezy tops are going to be of much service during the cold, Iowa winter. About 30 minutes or so into the project, our bedroom looked like a textile war zone. Clothes to be hung were scattered all over the bed, and those to be stored were completely covering the floor. I seriously started questioning whether we were going to be able to sleep in our room that night! I should have taken a picture to show you all, but alas, such a picture fails to exist.

Anyway, over our “lunch break,” Jesús (my fiance) said, “Marie…I don’t think we are ever going to finish this mess!! It looks awful in that room right now.” In response I told him, “Don’t worry. Things like these always look much worse before they begin to look better.” I have found this truth to hold in practically all cleaning projects, but the more I thought about it, I realized it applied to my recovery, too. Like my closet before the rearranging, my eating disorder didn’t seem too terribly problematic before I attempted recovery. I mean, sure… it wasn’t going to sustain me over time, but the “harsh winter” hadn’t yet arrived entirely, and I always felt I had time to keep doing the same thing until that time came. No need to change anything up.

Well, the winter did arrive, and when it did, it was a harsh one! When I finally convinced myself that I did, indeed, have a serious problem and should probably do something about it, the task of recovery was completely overwhelming. Once I started (little by little) replacing negative behaviors and thoughts with positive ones, it was hard to see the progress I was actually making. The anxiety these changes provoked, combined with the physical changes that quickly followed, freaked me the hell out. I felt like I was losing my mind. Though my life was actually getting better as I progressed in my recovery, it genuinely looked much worse in my mind than it did before I attempted to make any changes.

Eating disorders, as I’m sure you know,  aren’t simply about the food. Sure, I obsessed about food… Constantly planning what I was going to eat, how much I would eat, when I would do it, and how I would be able to “undo” it if I felt the need. Hours spent browsing decadent recipes that I knew I’d never attempt. Keeping meticulous lists of every ounce that touched my lips (hell, on bad days I wrote down items I looked out if I was scared I “breathed” the calories… yeah, not possible, I know…). My daily life revolved around what I was [not] eating. Sounds like a fun existence, huh?! …Not.

Behind the facade of my food obsession lay the true roots of my disorder. Growing up, my household was not an emotional one. There were not daily hugs before leaving for school, conversations about how my day went over dinner, or bedtime tucking-in ceremonies to be enjoyed before resting each night. It was very much a schedule-oriented, stoic existence (at least the version that I vividly recall), and emotions were seen as weaknesses… feelings that accomplished nothing of importance and essentially just got in the way of success. Combine that with the fact that I was constantly passed around from parent to parent, as my parents divorced when I was incredibly young, and you have yourself a scrumptious recipe for Disaster a la famille.

As I grew older, the depression with which I struggled since elementary school was a constant source of anguish for my family. None of the doctors to whom my parents sent me were able to fix me overnight, and any time I showed a sign of depression or insecurity, those feelings were promptly met with fervent, negative reactions from the home front. As a result, my eating disorder eventually developed into a coping mechanism. It was an outlet. I was able to focus astoundingly intently on something basic: food. In return, I was able to ignore the feelings and emotions that I was constantly forced to supress. I didn’t feel. From the age or 11 or 12 years old, up until my early twenties, I did not feel. It was insane, yet seemingly effective. And if an emotion somehow managed to squeeze itself into my mind, my eating disorder retaliated with a vengeance and silenced it.

The point of this narrative is the following: when I replaced the negative behaviors with positive ones and began to silence the negative self-talk that was perpetually filling my mind, those suppressed emotions and feelings had nowhere else to hide. So, even though I was making a lot of progress in my fight against my disorder, it didn’t feel that way to me. To everyone on the outside, things were looking promising. I just wanted to die, to be quite frank. Of course when I finally stuck with recovery (it took many many many attempts before I was able to stick with it for a decent amount of time), I was able to deal with my emotions productively and in healthy ways (i.e., without using my disorder). Things really did get better, and I did eventually enjoy the recovery journey. Just like in anyone’s life, recovery brings good days as well as bad ones. Thankfully, if you stick with the process, the good days begin to greatly outweight the not-so-great ones. And though it won’t seem possible at first, please trust me… it get’s better!

Just like cleaning my closet last week, my recovery journey was not always pretty. When I first undertook the task of recovery, it looked so much worse (in my mind particularly) before it began to look better. If Jesús and I would have freaked out in the ohmygodthisisadisaster phase of our cleaning project and would have abandoned it without giving it some time to work itself out, I’d be freezing my ass of this week in my summer clothes, and we’d be sleeping on the couch. Clearly, not cool. Recovery deserves the same fair shot. Yes, at the beginning you will likely feel completely overwhelmed. It will look like your life is far worse off without your disorder than it is with it. BUT, if you stick it out and trust the process, you will see positive change. Just as I look at my closet today and subtly smile at the organization scheme and its cozy contents, you, too, will look back at your journey through recovery and appreciate (and be proud of!) all the progress you will have made.

Trust the process, and trust yourself. You are more than enough! And as the photo above says: IT WILL BE WORTH IT. (I promise!)

Happy Friday!




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