Spotlight on Lasting Recovery: Alumni Profile with Alexandra Lexis
In sharing your stories about the recovery journey, we hope to offer inspiration, hope and support to Eating Recovery Center and partner program alumni. This month, Alexandra Lewis, an Eating Recovery Center alumna, reflects on the journey of lasting recovery.
1. What does lasting recovery mean to you?
Lasting recovery for me means using the coping mechanisms and strategies of ACT that ERC provided for me. I work hard every single day on my recovery and always put it first. It is my number one priority and I have worked so hard that I will not let anything or anyone take my recovery from me. Recovery is hard and I am convinced it will be the hardest thing I will ever have to go through. But my recovery process has been a beautiful journey at the same time and I have learned so much about my self and dealing with life on life’s terms. Lasting recovery means a lifetime full of happiness, health, gratitude, faith, and sharing my experience, strength and hope with others. It’s process not perfection and I will keep putting one front in front of the other.
2. What advice do you have for fellow alumni as they navigate their recovery journeys?
You can do it! You can and will recover! I take my recovery one day at a time. Sometimes one hour at a time but I will tell you….one day in recovery is 100 times better than one day in my eating disorder. We all deserve to LIVE. We deserve to actually feel connected, to observe our surroundings, to be enough, to be loved and give love in return. I don’t want to grow old and look back on my life and say, “Man, I wish I wasn’t still controlled by my eating disorder. I wish I had worked harder in my recovery. I wish I would have listened to my clinician. ” Recovery is worth it. You are worth it. Through all the fears, the insecurities, the tears, the feelings and emotions that feel like they could kill you. Recovery is possible and is a beautiful journey. You just have to be willing. You have to learn to let it go.
3. What is the greatest challenge you have faced since leaving treatment? How did you address this challenge?
My greatest challenge since I have left treatment is dealing with unexpected “life” challenges and working through bad body image thoughts. Throughout each day I feel feelings that I don’t want to feel and feelings that I want to get rid of but the difference now is I have healthy coping mechanisms to use instead. Honestly, sometimes they help, sometimes they don’t. When they don’t I remind myself of what I was like at my rock bottom. My mind flashes back to those memories and almost instantly it pulls me out of my “funk”. I am a huge believer of positive affirmations. I have them everywhere in my house, in my car, and ones that I have memorized. A lot of my recovery has been through my faith, something that I didn’t have when I was sick. God is my healer and helps fill that emptiness that I feel sometimes throughout my day.
4. Has anything surprised you about the recovery process?
Actually, yes! It’s way more glorious than I thought it would be! After all my behaviors were taken away from me in treatment I was miserable. I remember telling myself “How am I going to get through life without my eating disorder when I get out of here? How am I going to get that rush of excitement that behaviors once gave me.” But you know what I did? I held on even as uncomfortable and sore my body was from actually eating a proper meal plan. I didn’t let go. I used one of my coping mechanisms of defusion (and still do) and as each day went I realized “I was okay”. I have already accomplished more in these last nine months of no behaviors than I have accomplished since my eating disorder behaviors started at the age 16. To this day, I can actually say “I am happy”, “I am perfectly flawed and I’m okay with that”.
5. Do you have any inspiration quotes, saying, or affirmations you would like to share with fellow alumni?
Positive affirmations are such an amazing tool and I use them daily.
*My favorite one is the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity to except the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
*This too shall pass
*”Alex, I’m going to take good care of you today. You are in good hands. I love you”
6. Have you been able to attend the Alumni Retreat, and if so, in what ways was the experience beneficial?
It was a great experience. It was really nice to see my treatment team that I had at ERC and see some similar faces. I also made new connections and was able to share a little bit about my journey in recovery. Also I loved the process groups because when you have an eating disorder or are in the recovery process sometimes you feel so alone. Being at the retreat I was surrounded by others who understood what I was going through and could help validate my feelings.