Reflections on Recovery: Tis the Season to Be Present - Robyn Cruze
Dear Recovery Warriors!
The truth is, whether we suffer from an eating disorder or not, the holiday season can be a little trying. There’s the fuss over what to get our family and friends for that special day, decorating, making the decision to send Christmas cards by snail mail or email — or not at all. And then there’s one of the biggest focuses of all — food, lots of food. For those of us in recovery from an eating disorder (or trying our hardest to get there), the holiday season can sometimes feel absent of joy. I remember when I was in recovery and still struggling with eating disorder thoughts: The holiday season felt like I was walking through a minefield. At any time, one wrong move away from my eating disorder’s demands, and/or my food plan, could set off a detonator.
I want to provide you with some tools that helped me during the holiday season:
- If I was on a food plan, I did my best to follow it with flexibility. If I was invited to a celebration and didn’t know what was going to be served ahead of time, I allowed myself to pick my food from the offerings once I was there. I reminded myself that I, too, was allowed to enjoy food. Being flexible is a part of my recovery.
- If there was food I wanted, but it didn’t all fit into my food plan for one meal, I allowed myself to have a doggy bag (if this felt like a safe thing to do.) I took a doggy bag and incorporated it into my next meal (if I still wanted it) so I did not feel deprived.
- There is often an inordinate amount of time sitting at the table surrounded by food. If this is triggering, offer your services as “game organizer” after the meal. Plan something that allows you to move away from the dining table within an hour of getting there.
- Carry a list of “safe friends” in recovery that you can call. If you feel triggered or just need to check in, use the numbers. Even just leaving a message can help.
- Hold your head high wherever you are in your recovery. Be proud of where you have come from. If you have “fallen” recently, get up. Brush yourself off and don’t allow shame to enter. The gift of recovery is yours for the taking!
As the National Recovery Advocate for Eating Recovery Center and its partner programs, I am honored to be able to speak with patients about recovery. In one of my patient talks recently, we were discussing how this illness cripples the spirits of those who suffer from it and also those who love them. I know that we can become very conscious of what our loved ones are thinking about us at this time of the year. We may even feel “watched.” Of course our families are concerned about us; they love us and want to see us recover. Even though this is true, I also remember feeling pressured to make it all right during the holiday seasons of my recovery. What I realized is that I had to just focus on me and what the “next best thing” to do for my recovery was. I couldn’t think about how I was supposed to act, look and/or feel for others. I had to simply work on my recovery, one moment, one meal, one step at a time. It is my hope that you will give yourself the gift of being present during these holidays.
“For life is good here where I stand.
I am safe here where I stand.
And there is no need for eating disorder,
here where my feet meet the ground.”
– Making Peace with Your Plate (pg. 43)
You deserve to be happy, joyous and free!