What Does Recovery Look Like to You?

You are 100% fully recovered from your eating disorder.  Yes, you!  Now look around, what do you see?

It may seem like a dumb question, but it’s critical to answer if you want to FOR REAL RECOVER; not half-ass manage eating disorder symptoms and try to live your life, but LEGIT RECOVER

f someone had asked me what recovery looked like to me when wrapped in the cocoon of my eating disorder, I would have likely told them to leave me alone - Exorcist-style (head spinning and projectile vomiting).  However, tucked gently in the folds of that cocoon, was a part of myself who had big plans for my life before I got hijacked by the eating disorder.  

The eating disorder is terrified of your passions and dreams and your desire to live a rich and fulfilling life because it knows this is your key to freedom.  Hope is seriously like holy water and crosses to that possessed eating disordered part of your brain.

I’m requesting that you (ok, demanding, because I’m a bossy therapist, deeply invested in winning the War on Eating Disorders!!) connect with that part of yourself that I promise still resides deep inside your heart.  Get honest with yourself and ask the hard question:  What Does Recovery Look Like for Me?

It’s ok not to hardcore have your recovered life all mapped out - NOBODY DOES!  It’s one gentle stroke on the canvas, a scribbled sentence in your journal, or a whispered longing.    

But here’s the deal - You Must Begin!  Here are a few prompts to get you in the mood:

-Gently close your eyes and begin breathing fully in & out through your nose.  Start to let your thoughts swirl around the question:  What Does Recovery Look Like for Me?  Imagine the thoughts twirling and dancing, like incense as it burns, and allow the ideas to be light and graceful.  Do not attach to any one thought or idea - just observe and see what comes up.  Caution:  The eating disorder voice will try to work its way in there too, and that’s ok, just shift your focus back to your recovered life. When you feel like a natural stopping point has occurred, then open your eyes.  Take out a piece of paper and jot down some notes.

-Journal it out.  Light a candle, make some tea, turn on some soothing music and start pouring out those images of your recovered life onto the page.  Notice I said writing, not judging!  This isn’t an academic assignment.  No one has to read this but you, so let the secrets held in your heart be shared with your journal.  Again, ask yourself:  What Does Recovery Look Like for Me?

-Markers, crayons & paint, oh my.  Choose your medium and start illustrating your fully recovered life.  This isn’t about your artistic  abilities, so don’t hold back.  Relish in the freedom to dream again and to believe that life exists beyond the confines of the eating disorder.

-Collage your heart out.  Get a big stack of magazines and look for imagery that calls to you and rip out that page.  Repeat until you have a nice stash of images/colors/quotes that resonate with Your Vision for a Recovered Life!  Paste those images to your vision board and pop that sucker up somewhere you can see it on the regular.

So, I’m curious, what does recovery look like for you?  Who got an invitation to show up in your recovered life?  What was left out?  What did you feel as you imagined having this life that is meant solely for you?  

If you struggled with what your recovered life looks like, then that’s ok too — just don’t freak out and don’t give up.  If you have a heartbeat, it’s there underneath; you’ll just need to dig a little deeper.  

Here are a few ideas for your exploration:

-Start by paying attention to what you're drawn to - whether it’s a show on Netflix, a couple sitting together in a cafe, a dress from Anthropologie, or a nature scene in a magazine.  When you are driving, strolling through a neighborhood, or scrolling through Pinterest — what calls to you?

-What breaks your heart wide open?  Is it the homeless person you see in your community, the single mom with four unruly kids in church, or maybe it’s a child hurting in some way.  Maybe it's sheltered animals in need of a loving home.  Whatever cracks that sweet heart of yours wide open is a massive sign of what your purpose or calling is in this world. 

-Ask someone who has known you for a long time what they remember you loving from the time you were little. Was it playing outside, creating art, building sandcastles, camping or baking brownies?  Get curious about your early interests.  These are links to your adult hobbies, vocation, or way of being.

-Ask a co-worker, friend, or family member where your natural talents reside.  Is it your willingness to listen, your ability to create a cozy nest, the way you style your clothes or your crazy sense of humor?  

More clues into what recovery looks like for you!!

Where do you go from here?  You baby step it out and begin to make room in your life for the things you love.  The more you weave them into your life, the more the eating disorder gets edged out.   

All the information you need is right there; you just have to open your heart to see it.  You will need to shift your attention AWAY FROM THE EATING DISORDER, and onto YOUR LIFE!!  Trust the wisest part of yourself to guide you along.  The answer isn’t ‘out there’ it’s in you.

Love + Light,