One of my biggest fears when getting sober was that my eating disorder would resurface. The one I struggled with in high school, but then drowned afterward under a sea of alcohol and kept anchored down with various drugs and pills.
Well, my fear came true.
I restricted in sobriety. I binged in sobriety. I even thought about drinking while in sobriety to escape the shame and the guilt from doing those things in sobriety.
But, I learned to play the tape forward in sobriety. Say I have that drink to escape my feelings. Then what?
For me, it might be the first drink, it might be the one-thousandth drink, or one of the ones in between. But eventually one of those drinks is going to lead me back to the broken and hopeless drug addict that I once was.
That person wouldn’t show up to the job she enjoys and is passionate about today. She wouldn’t spend authentic quality time with her close friends and family. And that person would get knocked out of her highly prized ranking of the #1 dog mom in the world (thanks, Kya).
And that person would have to start her sobriety day count over at 0 days.
I was the type of alcoholic and addict who could not put a few sober days together on her own. So when I started attending a 12-step program and was able to put a few days together without taking any type of mind-altering substance, there was no way I was starting that day count over.
Even if I restricted. Even if I binged.
No matter what, I have not, nor will I ever, let my eating disorder take away my sobriety.
I am proud AF of my sobriety, and ED will never take it from me.
When my eating disorder began to resurface during my first few years of that 12-step program, I used to think it meant my sober time didn’t count. Or it wasn’t good enough. Sound familiar? That’s because, just like yours, my eating disorder told me for years and years, again and again, that I was not good enough.
Being on the other side of that struggle, I can tell you: as long as your sobriety is honest, it’s good enough. And if you’re struggling with your sobriety, or your eating disorder, you are good enough, too. Even if you don’t believe it right now.
Not one of us in that 12-step program is perfect, but we’re good enough.
We all mess up, whether it is with food, other addictions, in relationships, or any other way we can find. We also develop the courage and honesty to take ownership of when we make those mistakes. And do our best to do better next time.
I went to treatment for my eating disorder years prior to attending the 12-step recovery program. I knew back then that I wanted to help people. But I was told in treatment I had to help myself before I could help others. With that still in my head, I remember being confused when new to the 12-step program and my sponsor told me to help a person newer than me.
How can I help anyone when I don’t know what I’m doing?
By taking my sponsor’s suggestion even when I didn’t believe in it, I learned that it doesn’t matter where you are in your recovery, in your sobriety, or how new you are to something.
You have value to offer to someone else in this world, even if you don’t think you do.
My sober path to eating disorder recovery has not been a straight path. Though if I could’ve chosen to walk a different path, I wouldn’t. I would not have learned everything I did to help me get through whatever problems arise, including my eating disorder resurfacing in sobriety.
No matter where you are in your recovery today, you have something to offer to the world.
What is one thing you can do today to help someone else? Here are a few suggestions that I have learned throughout my recovery journey:
- ask a cashier or barista what was the best part of their day far
- ask someone else you see often, but don’t know well, the same question (or make up your own)
- call (don’t text) a friend or family member you haven’t talked to in a while; ask how they’re doing, and just listen.
- smile at every single person you walk by today
- tell someone how much you appreciate their impact on your life (I tell this to Kya every day, it’s part of what got me the #1 dog mom ranking)
- make a handmade card for someone just because
- or maybe you need to do some self-work to show up better for someone later: journal, draw, meditate, read a book, write a gratitude list, or go out in nature.