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Lessons in Recovery

Mar 26, 2018Recovery

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

When I first got out of treatment, I had a friend who packed a cooler full of food for herself every day. Meals, snacks, drinks, anything she might need. She put it in her car every morning & took it out at night.

One day, in passing, she told me why she did it. She was in early recovery from anorexia & had also struggled with bulimia in the past. Getting too hungry or too full was extremely triggering for her. So she carried food with her, ate at regular intervals & did what she could to avoid the triggering sensations.

She told me this in roughly 30 seconds. There was no long drawn out conversation. And yet it’s stuck with me for years.

Why? Because it made so much sense. Knowing that her life was on the line if she lapsed back into her disorder, she recognized triggering sensations & came up with a proactive plan to avoid them.

She didn’t make a big fuss about it. She didn’t say she’d die if she ever got too hungry or full. She even acknowledged that sometimes it would happen.

Her attitude wasn’t, “I will control this situation with an iron will & never feel hunger or fullness.” It was, “Life’s going to happen & I’m not going to be in complete control, but I’m going to do everything I can to set myself up for success.”

And she walked the walk. She led a full life. She didn’t sit at home hiding from the world, but she also didn’t say yes to things that would interfere with what she needed to do for herself.

She was right-sized about it. She didn’t come from a place of entitlement, nor a place of unworthiness. She had needs & she met them. She neither asked anyone else to take care of them, nor for anyone’s permission to meet them herself. And, if you thought she was being selfish by declining a dinner invitation or excusing herself from something to go eat, she’d gladly tell you where you could take that thought & shove it.

This, for me, is the sweet spot of recovery. Which, in general, also means it’s the sweet spot of life.

We can be empowered advocates for ourselves. Without straying into entitlement or unworthiness. And that, for me, is a place worth striving for.