Could You Be Preventing Joy in Recovery? – Robyn Cruze
Many of us in recovery can feel the urge to catch up with our life — as though we are making up for lost time that we spent in our illness.
We busy ourselves to make our lives look a certain way, expecting to find joy in our successes. But joy doesn’t work that way.
I once thought, that when I had recovered from an eating disorder, that it would bring me joy — and not just joy; it would be sustaining, long-lasting joy.
I committed myself to getting better and trying harder, thinking that, if I did this, I would find joy sitting under a rock or atop a mountain, patiently waiting for me. Once I found it, I would live happily ever after.
Some of the many ways that I desperately sought joy in recovery
- Success: I became highly ambitious, working harder and harder to climb the success ladder. I said “Yes!” to all opportunities that worked toward my ideas of what it meant to be successful.
- People: I sought joy through hugs, kisses and deep conversations from people that I loved or wanted love from.
- Personal improvement: I committed to years of therapy and professional week-long workshops on finding your inner child. I paid hundreds of dollars in couple's therapy; I walked through anxiety, under panic and over grief — trudging my way to joy, or so I hoped.
Oh yes, my friends, all of it surely helped with my overall wellness, but I still couldn't find that feeling of bliss that I so hoped I could sustain forever.
Oh wherefore art thou, Romeo, I mean, joy.
At the end of a long, work-filled day, I attend my nightly rounds. After I kiss the first daughter's cheek, I head out to daughter #2's bedroom. I am sleepy and, without warning, I get a visit from joy.
I get very still. “Oh, dear joy, there you are,” I whisper, trying to be so very careful in that moment, trying not to lose it.
It is as if I am balancing joy on the tip of my finger. Like a ball spinning, I try so hard to will joy to linger just a little bit longer. As I felt it slipping away, like sand through my fingertips, I got it.
Joy can be found in the little moments
Joy could be found in the little moments when I wasn’t trying so hard to make up for lost time in my illness.
It wasn’t that joy could not be found, rather, joy, too, was pushed aside in order for me to achieve the very things I thought joy needed to thrive! I was, in fact, saying “no” to fully experiencing joy. I’d been doing it all wrong.
In many ways, just as the lies of the eating disorder would say “you can eat when you are a certain weight,” I was saying “joy cannot be experienced until I feel worthy enough to have it.”
The truth is, joy was visiting in the rare moments when I wasn’t in a frenzy, working so hard to find it and keep it. In fact, joy was always right here under my nose, waiting for me to welcome it and experience it, and have a cup of tea with it. The problem was that I was moving so fast, I couldn’t see it.
Find your own joy in recovery
If you feel void of joy in recovery, try stopping for a minute, wherever you are, however you feel, and invite joy in. And then, rest again and try again. Slow down until you, too, feel these bright moments of joy once in a while.
No matter how much success you have, or have not, achieved, no matter who loves you, or how hard you work on yourself, the joy will come. Joy has no prerequisites, so today, be sure to invite it in, and if you’re lucky, it will stay a little while and play!
Robyn Cruze, MA is the National Recovery Advocate and online community manager for Eating Recovery Center.