This is a topic that I don’t find many people talking about and that absolutely needs clarified, as we all have a different meaning of what “recovered” means to us.
What does being recovered ACTUALLY mean?
From good old Google, recover means
1. “to return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength”
2. “find or regain possession of (something stolen or lost)”
But what if you never had it to begin with?
Many women I work with can’t even remember what it was like before they had the eating disorder. So how can we return or find what has been lost if we didn’t have it in the first place?
It tends to be deceiving especially when many doctors and treatment centers will look at you from the outside to define being “recovered”—
Well, as long as she LOOKS okay on the outside, has the “right” weight, isn’t using the behaviors then she is recovered…*
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’ve worked with so many people who maybe even haven’t used the behaviors in years, but they STILL STRUGGLE— emotionally, mentally, spiritually— on an internal level that you can’t actually see from the outside.
Because Eating Disorders are NOT ABOUT THE FOOD.
The food is actually just the external symptom— the last line of resort that we take to deal with what is actually going on inside.
What they are really about is HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOURSELF.
There is a lack of self-love, there is low or no self-esteem, self-worth.
You have so much emotional baggage, hurts and wounds.
You don’t know who you are.
You don’t know what your purpose is.
You aren’t fulfilling your highest potential.
You aren’t believing in yourself.
You don’t know who you would be without the eating disorder, and it scares you to think about what life would be like without the comfort and safety of the eating disorder.
These are the things that I find are at the core of why we struggle— and continue to struggle— for many years, for some, even a LIFETIME.
So what if we REDEFINED what recovery ACTUALLY MEANS to YOU?
It would be recovering your sense of self.
Regaining a sense of power, purpose, passion and alignment.
Feeling good about yourself, believing in yourself and OWNING who you are underneath it all.
It would mean that you would have to FEEL your FEELINGS and regain a sense of SECURITY and STABILITY within yourself.
It would mean finding the LOVE within yourself and learning how to become your own best friend again, or sometimes for the first time.
These are the gifts of recovery and what make this journey such an amazing and beautiful process.
It doesn’t mean just to *stop* using the eating disorder behaviors— because damn, how boring would that be?!
It really means re-defining your LIFE and what you want to CREATE from this point forward in your life!
You can create your life any way you want it.
YOU get to decide who you want to BE, what you want to HAVE, what you want to DO in your life.
Regardless of what has happened to you in the past.
There’s nothing that can’t be undone.
There’s no limits when it comes to dreaming BIG.
Will it test you?
Will you have to let go of some deep underlying limiting beliefs about yourself and the world?
But that is the challenge!! That is the reward. To do the impossible. To do what most people don’t believe can be done.
I don’t know about you, but I am a super high-achiever. I want the best. I want to be the best.
When I was going through recovery, I was told that I wasn’t going to make it. That I was going to die.
I told those doctors to FUCK OFF.
You can’t define my LIFE like that!
FUCK YOU and your fucking DIAGNOSIS.
I will NOT settle. I will NOT back down.
I WILL prevail.
And I did.
I fought that motherfucker of a disease for many years.
Bulimia, Anorexia, the drug addiction.
The demons that felt like they lived inside.
Insidious, evil, cruel voices inside my head.
They told me to punish myself.
They told me to harm and hurt myself.
And I did for so many years.
I never knew any differently.
That is why when I got into recovery I rejected any and all definitions of “recovery” that were out there.
I didn’t want to settle for having to struggle and manage this shit for the rest of my life.
I am an extreme person, I admit. Sometimes I can be a bit black and white when it comes to certain things. In recovery, it really didn’t serve me well when I believed it was all or nothing, when the rules were super extreme and limiting me and holding me back.
However I turned that shit around and told myself that I would become the HAPPIEST person out there. The person who RECOVERED the BEST. I would become the BEST at LOVING THE SHIT OUT OF MYSELF.
This type of mindset really helped!! I used what was once a negative trait and turned it into a positive one.
This was the beginning of my own PERSONAL DEFINITION of what RECOVERY ACTUALLY IS.
To me it meant—
LOVING MYSELF FULLY. 100% being on my own side, becoming my own best friend with the way I treated myself with my actions, thoughts, and words.
SHOWING UP FOR MYSELF always. Supporting myself, being my own best friend, supporter, and encouraging myself when things got tough.
DOING EVERYTHING IN RECOVERY AS AN ACT OF SELF LOVE FOR MYSELF. If I did anything in my recovery I HAD to make sure it was LOVING to myself. Even if it was hard. Even if it was scary and I would have a panic attack doing it, I did because it made sense, because I wanted to learn to love myself with everything I did.
FACING MY FEARS. Going through the hard shit. Shaking, sweaty, heart racing, mind racing, scared shitless, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other.
FEELING MY FEELINGS. Facing my traumas, my deep emotional wounds, hurts and baggage. Processing through these things so that I could let it go and be free. Holding on to negative emotions is a great way to stay chained to the past. In order to really move forward, I needed to accept and forgive my past. And with that came really FEELING and reminding myself every single day that THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
BUILDING UP MY SELF WORTH AND SELF ESTEEM. I can’t even tell you how many times I said to myself over the years, “I AM ENOUGH. I AM WORTHY AND DESERVING.” These are things that we need to tell ourselves often, and also take the actions to back up the development and growth of healthy self esteem and self worth.
This does not mean being selfish or narcissistic, it really is about knowing that you are enough exactly as you are, you don’t need to change yourself to gain value or worth. That you don’t need to lose weight or gain weight in order to feel good enough RIGHT NOW. That you are WORTHY of all of the good things in life, you are worthy of happiness, of life, of love, of wealth, of self expression just for being ALIVE. You are enough and worthy just because YOU EXIST.
BELIEVING AND HAVING FAITH IN MYSELF. When I didn’t believe it was possible for me to recover, I didn’t. When I started to believe I could, I did. It’s as simple as that. Whether you believe you can or can’t, that will determine your outcome. Faith is also about believing in what you cannot see just yet. I didn’t know what this new life without the eating disorder would look like— but I had faith in its goodness. I was afraid that I still wouldn’t like myself, or that this new life would beat me down and I wouldn’t have anything to comfort myself or make me feel safe. But I had faith that I would find other ways. I believed in myself and my life and the people that loved me at the time. I knew that I just needed to keep going and be grounded in the wisdom of uncertainty, knowing that holding the vision and putting one foot in front of the other would bring me exactly what I desired.
DOING THE WORK. This is something that many women resist, and I can understand why. I work with women that are totally willing to do ALL OF THE ABOVE, but when it comes to actually DOING THE WORK— it’s like, “OH SHIT FUCK THAT, I’M NOT READY!!!” Yep. I know you can relate. Here’s the truth— you’re never going to feel ready. You’re never going to *want* to do it fully. The Resistance is strong. This is why you just need to start NOW. Put one foot in front of the other. Take one baby step TODAY. This is your LIFE and it begins at the end of your comfort zone. I know it is scary but it is what will ultimately bring you what you desire!!
NEVER GIVING UP. This is about creating a new lifestyle for yourself and becoming the woman you are meant to become, rather than thinking recovery is something you “DO” then you stop. You never stop. You will have to do this—and when I say that I really mean GROW— the rest of your life, so quit complaining about it and get on with it. I never said it would be easy, but I promise it is WORTH IT. Anything in life that is worth having you are going to have to work your ass off for it, stay consistent and committed to it and never give up.
BUILDING HEALTH RELATIONSHIPS. Connecting with others through this process is SO IMPORTANT and one that will carry you on when you don’t feel like you can carry on yourself. This means learning how to be inter-dependent, how to ask others for what you need, set boundaries with people and share yourself and what you are going through with them. Shannon Cutts says that “Relationships Replace Eating Disorders” and I found a lot of truth in this.
BEING AUTHENTIC WITH MYSELF AND OTHERS. Authenticity is a natural result of this process. It means stopping hiding who you are and unleashing the TRUE YOU!! Who would you be if you stopped holding yourself back? If you really expressed what you truly felt on the inside? I can guarantee you would show up completely different in your life.
This can be really scary and can bring up many fears of being rejected, criticized or judged, however its important to remember that most of the time when we share authentically people actually FEEL CLOSER to us. Crazy, I know, right?! Who would have thought that being ourselves would create deeper levels of connection in our lives!! I learned how to be authentic with knowing how I felt and being able to express that with others was one of the most FREEING things in recovery.
There are many more things that I did in recovery to REDEFINE what it meant to me, and I could go on and on about each one of these topics. But for me what was important to remember was that most of these were NEW skills that I needed to develop. I wasn’t recovering or going back to anything that I had in the past.
That is so important for you to remember as you move forward— that we don’t want to revert or “go back” to how it used to be.
But rather to GROW, to LEARN, to EVOLVE along this journey.
It is a process of EVOLUTION and stretching yourself into the Highest Version of yourself.
THAT is what RECOVERY means to me.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
Let me know what your new definition is, beautiful soul!!
I know you can do this.
I believe in you.
I know the road is long, but you are worthy. You are deserving.
Sending so much love and healing energy your way!!
In light + love,