How Do You Choose Recovery When You Feel Stuck

How to want recovery?

In my early eating disorder years, I got certain questions asked time and time again: “Why don’t you just eat?” “Don’t you even WANT to get better?” 

At the time, I was unable to resolutely say “I want to get better.” But I was able to say with certainty that “I WANT to WANT to get better.”

One day my dietitian explained to me why it was that I found my eating disorder more attractive than recovery. And she did so in perfect metaphor.

“It’s as if you’re stuck in white water rapids. There in the river, you’re clinging onto your eating disorder like a log for safety. On the bank of the river is a hanging branch (the branch being our recovery).”

You can let go of the log and reach for the much safer branch. But doing so would mean releasing that comfortable, secure system you’ve held onto for so long.”

How, then, do we manage to finally surrender the grip we have on our falsely safe eating disorder and replace it with the branch on the bank? 

In my opinion, this is where the power of dialectal comes in. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, I’ll be concise in explaining it:

Two opposite things can coexist simultaneously. 

Something I learned in residential was the power of the word “AND.”

For example:

“I don’t want to eat my 2 pm snack because I’m still full from lunch. AND I’m going to eat it anyway.” 

Or 

“I want to compensate for binging by [insert behavior here]. AND I’m going to choose to give myself grace and restart my recovery at this moment.” 

Whether you want recovery or don’t want recovery. Or whether you are like a younger version of me and are currently in a phase of certain uncertainty….

I know for a fact that you’re reading this article today.

That tells me you’re taking steps towards a more hopeful tomorrow. 

I used to “want to want to recover.” Now, I genuinely WANT to actively experience everything that life has to offer. All because I decided to let go of my log in the rapids for the branch on the bank. One AND at a time.

I hope one day you do, too.

(Last Updated: August 5, 2022)

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