Recovery is full of questions: how did I get here? What is going to happen? What if this had happened, or that had happened instead? This weeks’ treatment programme is all about the “Woulds, Shoulds, Coulds” in eating disorder recovery.
We’re discussing when it’s helpful to ask questions and when it’s time to put rumination aside in order to move forward.
It’s okay to feel regret. But remember to forgive.
Feelings of guilt are familiar to the journey of eating disorder recovery – for both the sufferer themselves and to those caring for someone. Often, people feel some element of responsibility for the place that they’re in, regardless of whether there’s an understanding of what may have led them down this path.
Whilst it is true that recovery is a choice, it is important to acknowledge the pressure that we put on ourselves to “get better”, and ask whether the weight of this pressure is helping or hindering our progress. Pressure can be good as it keeps us going, but, recovery is also about forgiveness, acceptance and developing a loving voice that’s echoed in regular practices of self-care.
Accepting the process of change.
When we’re in this space of thinking “What if?”, it’s important to honour the process of change. Whilst we may feel pressure and urgency to be fully “recovered”, we must accept that the journey will unfold in it’s own time, but in the meantime, we can reinforce our progress by honouring the incremental changes we see along the way.
Change also provides us with space to experiment. We often refer to recovery as a process of rediscovery and creativity; rediscovering the you underneath the eating disorder, and creating a life and identity for yourself that’s independent from the illness.
Stumbling is normal.
Recovery isn’t a linear process; there will be ups and downs as normal life challenges arise and we take steps to overcome and build resilience against them for the future. Consider it a “lapse” rather than a “relapse”.
Therapy is a safe space that we use to reflect on our past experiences and actions. Whilst this is a significant part of healing, it’s important to maintain a compassionate and forgiving mindset to these memories. Everyone is on their own, unique journey and has done their best to cope with overwhelming feelings and situations. Take a moment to forgive yourself for the ups and downs of your process and know that each step (backwards or forwards) is an opportunity for growth.