Family Recovery: Dealing with an Uncertain Recovery Timeline by Robyn Cruze, MA
Early recovery from eating disorder is often messy. In fact, it's safe to say that if it doesn't look or feel a little or a lot messy at times, it's about to! Experiencing life without an eating disorder and coping with it takes time and practice. As a family member, we can feel like it's time to get our life back too! Time spent worrying, money spent, and emotional exhaustion - it's time for it all to be over, now that your loved one is in recovery. Although it is perfectly acceptable to feel this way, unfortunately, just like cancer or diabetes, eating disorder recovery doesn't follow a schedule. What works for some doesn't work for others. During an uncertain recovery timeline, it is also important for family members to work at taking their lives back from the eating disorder too. When you think about it, just like your loved one, your emotional, spiritual, and even physical life has been hijacked by the eating disorder. Not knowing the road and obstacles that lie ahead, we need to focus on what we have power over — the family recovery that includes your own. Here are some helpful tips: The power of surrender: We cannot change or force our loved one's recovery process. Surrendering is a powerful tool to ceasing the fight within that says "life needs to look different." We have no control over people, places, or things, only our reactions. Bring back joy: One of the most common things I hear from families during Family Days at the Eating Recovery Center is that it is "impossible" to self-care when their loved one is going through such challenging times. Of course! I understand. But, here's the other side of the coin; your loved one also thinks it is impossible to get freedom from the eating disorder—you identify, right? Try to incorporate something that brings you joy once a week. Reclaiming joy is a powerful action that encourages your loved one too. Gather your tribe: Just as your loved one cannot recover in a bubble, nor can you. It takes a treatment team to get them through the day and a tribe to support you. This tribe consists of people that you feel supported by, loved and not judged. They know your story, and they honor your growth. They are people you can call and leave a voicemail without fear that "I shouldn't have left that message!" Just as your loved one doesn’t recovery on their own, nor do you. We cannot change the timeline of our loved one's journey, but we impact it when we are willing to change ours and join our loved ones in their recovery process by starting our own.