May 22, 2018

Recovery Will Never Be Perfect – Michelle Kaufman

no perfect eating disorder recoveryNo matter how hard I try to make each day a perfect recovery day, I always seem to fall short. 
 
When I was going through treatment from December 2014 through March 2015, I imagined I would be fully recovered by now. I envisioned I would be running healthy again and enjoying the foods I would tell myself I “shouldn’t” or “couldn’t” have. 
 
However, after deciding to admit myself and to stop competing as a Division I cross country runner, I’m still not FULLY recovered from my exercise compulsion and eating disorder tendencies
 
Waiting is hard, but I have hope that one day I will be able to eat the foods I enjoy and run for fun. I no longer want or feel the need to compete again, but I would like to arrive at a point where I enjoy a gentle run, whether it is with friends in a group setting, or with my dog, Paddington. 
 
Even if I do not reach a point where I can add these things back into my life, I can choose to be grateful for the things that I do have: an incredible support system, a fully functioning body, and the ability to meet my needs. 
 
My eating disorder almost took my life away at the lowest point of my disorder when I was hospitalized with a low heart rate. I have come an incredibly long way since rock bottom, and I’m STILL recovering every single day. 
 
I now have the strength to choose what my body needs instead of what my eating disorder wants because of the amazing grace I receive in my personal relationship with Jesus. 
 
I definitely still have challenges in recovery. Here’s how I handle some of those:
 
  1. Dealing with negative thoughts
 
Some days I make choices that my eating disorder wants instead of what I know my body needs. On those days, I am plagued by guilt and thoughts of “I’ll never change” or “I’ll never break these bad habits,” but I’m starting to talk back to myself more and say things that really help, like:
 
  • “I have hope”
  • “My recovery will not be perfect.” 
  • "I'm thankful for what I CAN do and I'm thankful that my team supports me every day." 
 
This last sentence above is part of my daily gratitude practice. Lately I have been writing down a couple of things I'm grateful for each day. I’ve noticed that this is one way to get out of my "ED head."
 
  1. Handling tough days
 
If today was not a “good” recovery day, we don’t have to beat ourselves up. You are most likely familiar with the saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” In recovery, this statement is really applicable. We must continue on and keep trying — even when we have tough days in recovery
 
  1. Thinking I know better than my treatment team
 
You may think that you would rather stop listening to your treatment team and try doing things your way instead. I can tell you that every time I try to do recovery my way instead of listening to my team, I take steps backwards instead of forwards.
 
Finally, I encourage you to “be okay” with “not being okay” in your own recovery because recovery will never be perfect.  
 
Do I think anyone will be perfectly recovered? No, but I do believe that we can daily surrender to a fully, satisfying life. Personally, I find this full satisfaction in a relationship with an amazing God who loves us, even when we mess up. 
 
Recovery is possible, even if it doesn’t look perfect. 
 
My name is Michelle Kauffman, and I am a graduate student pursuing a master's in clinical mental health counseling at Liberty University. I finished treatment at Eating Recovery Center over two years ago, and I enjoy reading, journaling, playing the piano, gentle yoga, leisure walks, getting coffee with friends, and traveling to new places.
 
 
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