I am a recovered professional now working in the field of eating disorder treatment. As I spend time with clients, I am struck by the monotony of recovery. From my perspective, I’m excited. I know what’s possible for them in the future. But most of the clients I see are just ambivalent about recovery. And I know that’s perfectly normal—I remember experiencing that, too. But it reminded me of something I had written several years ago. And it’s something I want to share to offer hope in the seemingly endless tedium that recovery can be:
Some days in recovery from my eating disorder I feel amazing—like full-blown, top-of-the-world Recovery Goddess. Don’t laugh, and don’t roll your eyes–I’m being completely serious. And those are the days when it’s easy. Those are the days when I’m so incredibly ecstatic to be in recovery that you would think I’m full of bullshit. I love my body, I love my life, I know everything’s not perfect, but I revel in the “realness” of it all and in how far I’ve come. I’m proud of myself. Those days happen, and those are the days I live for.
But what about the other days? The days when I am disenchanted and want to throw everything I’ve worked toward out the window so I can wallow in self-pity? Because those days happen, too. (Unfortunately more than I’d like them to.)
Those are the days when my recovery is put to the test and I don’t win every battle. Sometimes I think that I’ve been “doing recovery” for long enough now that every battle should be a quick, sure win. But that’s not how it works. I can lose battles but still win the war.
So how do I get through those days? Those days when I’m not excited to be in recovery? By simply trying. By putting one foot in front of the other, dragging my feet to tomorrow, and knowing I’m doing the right thing for myself. It’s hard. The “glamorous” days of recovery can make the “normal” days feel like a failure. They can make me feel like I’ve already failed—so why not let the chips fall?
Following an emotional weekend, I came home from work one day to an empty house for the third day in a row. It was one of those days where I didn’t want to take care of myself. Recovery wasn’t impressing me. So for about 30 minutes, I resigned myself to that feeling. I cried a little and planned to go straight to bed without dinner. But after I accepted “giving up” for the day, I started to think: “Giving up today would probably affect tomorrow, maybe even the rest of the week. Do I want to chance getting into a funk? There are things to look forward to. Is it really worth knowingly messing that up for a few hours?”
Recovery changes, sometimes day-to-day. It isn’t always an inspiring dedication to a healthy, happy life. Sometimes it’s just pushing through because you know it’s the smart thing to do—because you know that’s how you’ll make progress. So that night I took my dog for a walk and I microwaved leftovers for dinner and ate them alone in my room. It wasn’t epic. It wasn’t exciting. It didn’t make me feel like a goddess. But I know I made a good decision for myself.
Although I’d like to, I realize that I can’t turn those mundane, seemingly blah days into goddess days. Both days are going to happen. But the encouraging part is knowing that I can survive either day by being kind to myself, by forgiving myself for slipping, and by trying again. Sometimes recovery really is just about taking it one moment and step at a time. And it’s worth it. Recovery is still worth it. Because by getting through the dull and tough and tiring days, I get to see the recovery-goddess days, the days I live for. The days that make it all worth it.