Recovery: The Greatest Gift of All
2017. My life is full. My life is whole.
This year — more than ever — I realize how very much I enjoy life.
With a grateful heart, I mark this year as my ninth year in recovery from my eating disorder, alcoholism and other addictions.
I’ve been in the hospital and in treatment centers several times. So, I recognize just how hard I have worked to be where I am today.
Recovery has not been an easy journey for me, and this year I realize that I no longer take care of myself because I have to. I take care of myself because I want to. It’s now a privilege for me. More than ever, I want everything in my life to be meaningful.
To understand why this is profound, you have to know where I’ve come from.
The gift of letting go of shame
Shame, self-hatred and self-harm were a way of life for me for decades. I bottled up so much from a very young age. I felt like a huge disappointment to so many people, but especially to God.
In the past, I thought that pursuing perfection would somehow prove my worth to God and others. I was lost in fear, depression and anxiety. Those years in my eating disorder were lonely, isolating, and empty.
Today, I savor a freedom I never thought I could know.
Shame no longer has the final say in my life.
I can revel in a settled feeling in my heart.
These are the gifts that recovery has given me — the gift of freedom to receive the goodness in life without shame or guilt.
This year, more than ever, I feel as if I have a new lease on life. I now listen to my heart and choose to live with intention and meaning.
The gift of finding meaning
This past year I made the decision to make changes in my busy schedule so that I could pursue things I love, like hiking and backpacking.
When I’m hiking in the Colorado mountains, I feel more alive than anywhere else. The fresh air, the warm sunshine, the deep green of the pines against the bluest sky all settle my heart and quiet my mind. The beauty of the wild flowers, the feel of the earth under my boots, and the sounds of the wildlife fill my senses, and it is here that I can relax.
As I hike, I feel my quickened heartbeat, my breath moving in and out, and the power in my legs as they climb higher and higher.
In these moments, I am connected with my body. I am connected with nature around me, and I am closer to God here than anywhere else. Here, shame has no room in my life. Here, my heart is wide open to receive peace, contentedness, joy, and wholeness. These, too, are the intangible gifts from God.
Enjoying the many gifts of recovery
Recovery has given me the gift of understanding that it’s OK for me to enjoy life, rest and savor the good things in life. In contrast, the eating disorder brought rigidity, striving, harshness and demands.
Today, I can live in a way that lets me take in the beauty of life and not feel guilty about it. I have been granted many blessings and I honor God when I accept these blessings as gifts.
In the past, shame made it difficult to accept gifts and blessings. Shame no longer keeps me from openly receiving the good things in life.
I no longer make choices in my recovery because I have to. Recovery has become a natural way I live my life now. I now make choices to listen to my heart and take care of myself because I get to. I now am able to see my life and the way I live it as a privilege.
Recovery truly has been a paradigm shift in how I view myself and how I view life — recovery has been the best gift of all.
Learn more about Kelli and the tools she found helpful in early eating disorder recovery.
Kelli lives in Parker, CO, is married with two children, and loves hiking, backpacking, music, and spending time with friends. She is a member of the Recovery Ambassador Council at ERC, and has a passion to share with others that living a whole, fulfilling life in recovery is possible.