It’s Not How You Fall; It’s How You Get Back Up - Robyn Cruze, MA
Now and then, I have flashbacks of what life was like when I was living with my eating disorder. I'll be paralyzed, just for a second or two, as I remember the disgust I felt about my actions and the intense shame I felt that I hid from the world. At times, I can also remember the moments that I felt in control. Mostly, though, my flashbacks are about moments when I could find no morsel of self-worth or self-respect.
I fell hard many times in my attempts to get to recovery. For seven years, I tried to find relief but could not give up my sense of control. My only saving grace was that I didn't give up, even when the eating disorder told me that I should.
I grew up in the scary and unfamiliar place called recovery. But, as you may know, recovery is not always smooth sailing.
About five years into my eating disorder recovery, I picked up alcohol. I had lost my mum a month before my first daughter was born, and the grief was suffocating me. Once again, I felt like the 11-year-old girl that had first stumbled into eating disorder behaviors. Once again, I sought relief. This time, it was alcohol that numbed my intense emotions.
Many of us fall during recovery. It's normal and it’s a given. Still, that hopelessness that we feel during a fall becomes the very emotion that can perpetuate our illness and keep us from living productive, fulfilling lives.
I believe that we do not talk about the lessons of these falls enough. If we don't open up about what we are learning, then no one else can learn from our mistakes. Many individuals will be left alone to think that falling is failure. The truth is, it’s only failure if you don't get back up. Getting back up is in our control! Getting back up taught me so much about my spirit and has led me to the life I have today.
In my role as the National Recovery Advocate for Eating Recovery Center (ERC), I want to open up the conversation about how tough this whole thing is. I want to help us all find ways to talk about how messy and ugly it can be, along with the joy and triumph that accompanies any recovery. Now that I am far enough away from my eating disorder experience, I finally feel free to share my story. I want you to know that you are not alone. We are all in this together.
For almost two years, I’ve traveled throughout the country, talking to professionals, ERC alumni, family members and others. I’ve talked to anyone who would listen; I’ve shared my eating disorder recovery story, discussed how to recognize eating disorder behaviors in individuals with co-occurring illnesses, and shared resources and eating disorder treatment options.
I am honored (and a little intimidated, to be totally honest) to be joining the online conversation as host of ERC’s social media communities. Starting today, you’ll be seeing more of me here, blogging and posting things that you may identify with — or not. That is perfectly OK.
And, we want you to be an intricate part of the conversation here. We invite you to tell your stories, share your points of view, your wisdom, your lessons and your concerns. My hope is that we figure out this thing that we call recovery, together, right here! Let’s be brave and curious. Let’s show up, share the tough stuff—and the good stuff, and grow together, in recovery.
See you round!