Reflections on Recovery: March 2015 - Robyn Cruze
Since I started my new job as the National Recovery Advocate for Eating Recovery Center, I have been blessed to be invited to meet with patients. Each time I visit them, I am filled with a sense of belonging — that we are all in this together, no matter where we are in the recovery process — and a sense of pride that I am witnessing these incredible beings in the trenches, getting their hands dirty in the nitty-gritty of recovery.
I am not an authority when it comes to eating disorders. Like all of us, I am an expert on my own story of recovery and offer up my experience in hope that it will help someone else who is struggling. During my visits with our patients, I get to share a bit of my story and some of the tools I used to help me gain back my power from this crippling mental illness. Then it is time for questions. This is my favorite part. I get to see recovery in action and, at times, I also get to see the illness rebelling. Either way these brave souls are right in the thick of it and this has my utmost respect.
Questions are powerful. They let us know that we are not alone, and at the same time, they expose the eating disorder and take a little bit of power away from it. This is why I thought it would be great to share some commonly asked questions with you in this article.
Patient: I’ve been in treatment more times than I care to remember. When is it going to get better?
“When do you want it to be?” I reply gently. It’s scary to say that. I don’t want people to ever think that I am saying the illness is your fault, because it certainly is not. But at the same time, I really want them to know that they have a choice in their recovery. For a very long time, I didn’t understand that I had a part in my eating disorder. I didn’t understand that I had the key to the prison. I didn’t know that I had the power to say “no” to it — to its unrelenting demands of me. I never even questioned it. Ever. I knew what I would be without it: unlovable, unworthy and “the size of a house.” I knew it, so what was there to question? To challenge this belief was one of the hardest, yet most life-changing things I ever did in my recovery.
In order to make great change, I had to be willing to question my role. My role was that I was trying to control my world by controlling my body. My part in recovery was having the willingness to challenge my beliefs. I had to do a lot of scary things. For example, I had to become willing to be everything the eating disorder said I would be without it. I had to be willing to say no to the illness’s demands and walk clumsily, messily, and sometimes painfully, through the fear I felt about doing this. When I fell, I got back up and brushed myself off. I said no to the illness that told me I had messed up, and that I may as well make the most of it. I said no to the need to be thinner, better, greater, more perfected. My recovery was messy. But just because recovery may be messy, doesn’t mean we are not doing it. Because we are. We are warriors. We are deserving of recovery and we are oh-so much better than our illness would have us believe.
Doing something despite the fear of failure is success.
Today I will take on the very task I fear I cannot do.
With this courage, I will write a new story for myself
and my life, where anything can happen, where
anything is possible . . . especially recovery.
– Making Peace with Your Plate (p.10)