For those of us in recovery one always thinks about what it/a recovered life will look like when we are recovered. Are we ever recovered? There are some individuals who believe you can recover fully. Then there are others, like myself, who don’t believe in a full recovery. That you are never recovered, you still have the issues but you learn to handle them better. There will still be struggles with your mental health, addiction, eating disorder, but by following/working the 12 Steps, prayer/meditation, going to support groups, whatever your new strategy is you can manage your issue(s).

When I first embarked on the recovery journey I looked around for clues. For pictures. For ideas of when I would be recovered. I keep thinking, “How will I know I am recovered?”, “What does it look like?”. After working the 12 Steps and working with others I came to the conclusion that I will never be recovered, BUT, I can imagine my life without my eating disorder and exercise addiction.

Here is how I imagine/drew my life without Melvin….

In the book, Life Without Ed by Jenni Schafer (a must read!!!!!), her therapist Thom Rutledge has activities for those of us reading the book to help us separate from our ED. The one that really shaped my outlook on the recovered life is the activity on page 111 where Thom has the reader define our recovery. He writes, “It is important to be able to identify and describe something about what you want for yourself–if you intend to find it, that is. Can you define your recovery? Do you know what you have in mind when you think about recovering from your eating disorder? Not what your mother or father or brother or boyfriend or therapist or nutritionist think your recovery should be. Do you know what you want it to be?” (page 111). He gives the reader three categories to work out: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. Here is mine, a mix of what I wrote two years ago that still ring so true as I sit here and blog this:

Spiritually, I will be able to focus in church service on Jesus Christ and worshiping not what I am going to eat for lunch or dinner or tomorrow’s breakfast. I will be able to let myself go and open my heart to the spirit and not be reserved. 

Mentally, I will be able to be present in the moment and not check out.

Emotionally, I will be stable and control my emotions/stress/anxiety. I will have developed enough skills to avoid melting down, anger, and emotionally withdrawing from situations. * let us add to this: I will be more open and communicative with my husband and love him with patience*

Physically, I will not rely on birth control to have my periods and will have a healthy ratio of lean muscle to body fat. I will also not put worth on a number that is on a scale. *let us add to this: I will be happy with myself in a swim suit or tight clothing, and I will stop thinking my legs look like cottage cheese when I know that they have muscle*

Another way I shaped my life is defining my “sane life”. In Step 1 of the 12 Steps you admit powerlessness and insanity. Insanity being doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. One can also think of Step 1 as being out of control. It is in Step 2 that you are given the questions : “How do you define sanity? What would a sane life look like? Which eating disorder {insert your habit} behaviors, habits, and attitudes kept you from acting sanely in the past?”

Here is what I wrote in response to those questions on 10/26/2011 (and it still is true to this day)

My definition of a sanity is not me at this present moment. I want to be a happy, self acceptant, non-compulsive behavioral, non-ED individual. A sane life for me would be me married to my boyfriend *which I did!*, away from TN, I’m a successful dancer, healthy (mentally, physically, spiritually), looks good, happy, helping fellow dancers and people with ED’s. Most of all: NO MELVIN. So many ED behaviors have kept me from being sane. Always counting and measuring, always be concerned with calorie content, always looking at myself in reflective surfaces all the time. Never being confident at integral points in time, being perfect. 

I also like the following quotes that define recovery. I found them in some of older journals in the early days of my journey and I still find so much meaning in them:

“Recovery does not mean cure. Rather recovery is an attitude, a stance, and a way of approaching the day’s challenges. It is not a perfectly linear journey. There are times of rapid gains and disappointing relapses. There are times of just living, just staying quiet, resting and regrouping. Each person’s journey of recovery is unique. Each person must find what works for them. This means that we must have the opportunity to try and to fail and to try again.” Project HEAL

“Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone. Some of your best life experiences and opportunities will transpire only after you dare to lose.” Anon

“Being recovered is when a person can accept his or her natural body size and shape and no longer has a self-destructive relationship with food or exercise. When you are recovered, food and weight take a proper perspective in your life, and what you weigh is not more important than who you are; in face, actual numbers are of little or no importance at all. When recovered, you will not compromise your health or betray your soul to look a certain way, wear a certain size, or reach a certain number on a scale. When you are recovered you do not use eating disorder behaviors to deal with, distract from, or cope with other problems.” Carolyn Costin

I look upon the words I journaled and the quotes from others and see that I still have a long way to go. But I am WAY closer to that sane life than I was when I started that journey a little over two years ago. In the words of my first therapist Dr. Smith, “Recovery is a marathon not a sprint.” Also, I will never be totally sane and perfect till I reach Heaven. But these goals/definitions give me hope and strength to wake up and work towards my defined life.

To those who read this and are in recovery I would like to know your goals/definition of your life without your ED etc…comment and share. We are all in this recovery journey together!

Peace and Namaste.


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