What is recovery?
Who wrote the rules on what it means to recover?
Who decided what is possible in recovery and what is not?
These are the questions I have been asking myself for years. It seems to me that someone decided that there is a cap on what is possible in recovery. That we can only get so far.
We are told we will always have our eating disorders, our addictions, and diagnosis’s, that they will never totally go away. That every day of our lives we will have to face the voices in our head.
This is what we are told recovery is. The story that is wide spread and has been accepted, as truth. But I do not believe that it is true. I do not know it to be the truth of my recovery. To me it was a story, a belief that although, widely accepted, is not my truth.
To me this story, this belief about recovery was limiting. It was limiting my recovery, my life, my possibility. I decided this was not my kind of recovery.I was not going to adopt a limiting mindset about recovery. This was not what recovery was going to be for me. I was going to write my own story of recovery. I was going to work for, define, and create my own version of recovery.
Recovery for me was going to be full of possibility. It was going to be whatever I wanted it to be and I was not going to let anyone else’s story of recovery change my own. No matter what their title or how many letters they had after their name.
My recovery was going to be up to me. My recovery would not have any limitations. Why, because I had finally decided that I wanted to live. I decided that I wanted to live fully and that life did not include a life long eating disorder, it did not include always struggling with body dysmorphic disorder, and it did not include having PTSD symptoms forever either.
I am a strong believer in the famous quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” and I believe this quote can be applied to all areas of our lives, even recovery.
So this was exactly what I set out to do in my recovery. From the beginning I have held the belief that I have the ability to heal and recovery completely.
Now, this does not mean that I believe that I will be just like a person who has never experienced trauma or a person who has never had an eating disorder. That would just be silly, because I have experienced trauma, I have had an eating disorder, and I have struggled with body dysmorphia. The difference is that I choose to not let those things define me and what is possible for myself and my life.
Because I believe in total recovery it means that I do not believe that I will continue to struggle with the things I have struggled with in the past. I believed and continue to believe in my ability to recover, heal, transcend, and evolve beyond the things that have happened to me.
And by no means do I believe that I am special or one of a few people who have the ability to do this. I believe this is possible for anyone who wants to adopt this mindset and for it to be a reality in their own lives. I believe this because our minds our so powerful, If we believe something is possible and we work to make that possibility a reality, it will become our reality.
In my own experience with recovery this belief has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and forced me to grow in ways I would not have if I had not believed in total recovery was possible. When I was feeling solid in my recovery with my ED & BDD I started exposing myself to triggers that I had avoided when I was new in recovery.
I challenged myself to eat foods that I had been afraid of and that were my go to binge foods. I created a safe space where I could try these foods again in a healthy way. Doing this allowed me to slowly remove the stigma and fear I had associated with them. Overtime through exposing myself to these foods they no longer were triggers. I had reclaimed that part of my life. Doing that allowed me to more fully recover and heal so that when I encountered those foods in every day life I was no longer triggered by them.
I did this with all kinds of triggers, food, places, clothes, weighing myself, exercise, etc. The most recent trigger I have been working on is the gym. For a very long time I had a very unhealthy relationship with the gym. It was a place I used to punish myself and my body and it was very much apart of my ED & BDD. But before it was an unhealthy place for me it was a source of great joy and it had helped me feel great.
I knew that I wanted to be able to reclaim this part of my life I had given up in my recovery and healing journey. I wanted to live a life where I was not afraid of the gym. So just like I did with my other triggers I started introducing it back into my life. I wrote all about that experience here.
What I am hoping to convey by sharing this story, my mindset, and my beliefs about recovery is that you get to write the rules of your recovery and your life. You have the choice to believe in the possibility of complete recovery and work on making it a reality for you. It is up to you.
All I ask you to do is think about it. Think about what you want your life to be like, what you want to choose to believe is possible. Think about the beliefs you currently have, where they came from, and if they are aligned with the person you want to be and the life you want to live.
I believe in you, just as I have believed in myself, just as I have believed in the clients I have worked with. Recovery is possible and each of us get to decide what is for us.
So, what is recovery for you? What mindsets do you want to adopt to support you on your journey?