As a psychotherapist and someone who’s recovered from an eating disorder, I know only too well that recovery is about way more than just food. I definitely needed to learn how to tune into my body‘s needs and feed myself in a loving, respectful, non-restrictive manner. But that was only one piece of the recovery puzzle.
So Many Pieces to the Recovery Puzzle
One piece of the recovery puzzle was learning to deal with my emotions. I needed to learn how to identify them, welcome them, accept them. And tend to them. Not easy endeavors. But way better than being stuck in food and body obsession.
Next, I needed to learn how to tame my unkind mind. Most people who struggle with disordered eating and body image can very much relate to having an extremely loud internal critical voice. In fact, I think it’s that very voice that gets the ED ball rolling in the first place. The restrictive, excessive, and obsessive behaviors then serve as counterfeit attempts to quiet, confirm, or distract from those internal criticisms. So mind quieting was definitely part of my healing journey. And now a huge part of how I guide others along their paths to freedom.
Another piece of my recovery puzzle was (and still is!) feeding my spirit on a regular basis. This can look different for everyone.
If we take away the eating disorder behaviors, stop stuffing our emotions, and seek to quiet our unkind thoughts, we need to fill back up with something.
Turns out that connecting with our spirits— the part of us that is deeper than our busy minds and the material world— is, for many of us, the way to go. Spirit fillers can come in many forms. For me nature always seems to do the trick, as does music, reading, and listening to inspirational people.
In the early days of my recovery it was suggested to me that I learn how to meditate and quiet my mind.
Did these well meaning suggesters know who they were suggesting this to? Meditate and quiet my mind? I repeat, Ha! I basically was a busy mind with limbs! The thought of sitting down and closing my eyes to induce a feeling of calm felt nearly impossible (minus the nearly!).
But, like many well meaning suggestions that first felt impossible, I decided to try it anyway. I even set up a regular phone date with a member of my support group. We’d get on the phone, set a timer, and sit quietly together till the timer went off.
It seems like “together” has been a theme of my recovery because anytime I felt stuck, finding a support person to connect with or buddy up with has always helped me through.
I also discovered guided meditations. Back then they were on cassette tapes which some of you may or may not be familiar with! I found that listening to a guided meditation was very helpful. Even if (and when!) my mind wandered.
Flash forward several decades and I am now honored to be able to teach meditation to others. With modern devices that enable us to scroll and click in a moments notice, we can find countless different types and tones of guided meditations and mind quieting tools. So even if you are feeling alone, or alone with ED, you are not alone. Especially these days, when many people are feeling isolated, it can help to listen to someone else and be guided on an internal journey that is designed to quiet our minds and soothe our nervous systems.
You Can Find the Missing Pieces to Your Recovery Puzzle
Wherever you are on the path of recovery, I wish you peace and ease with food. I wish you a tender and welcoming relationship with your feelings. I wish you many moments of quiet mind.