I can distinctly remember sitting down at the table at the Carolina House treatment center with a new food that I had never tried: cottage cheese. All the girls loved it so much, we could barely keep it stocked in the fridge. So I decided, “what the heck? I’ll try it.”
Do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do. -Oprah Winfrey
As I put the first spoonful into my mouth my throat constricted and my stomach turned. The taste, the texture… it was not for me. As my sweet step-mother taught me to say, it was not my favorite.
I politely pushed the bowl away and said to the residential patient assistant, “Jessica, I really don’t like this. I can’t eat it.” She looked at me and said, “Brooke, yes you can. You just won’t.”
I pleaded with her to allow me to pick another snack. But she stuck to the Carolina House rules (and many treatment center rules) that are there to help us break out of our disordered restrictions and she said- “No, you have to eat the cottage cheese.”
“Can you do it for them?”
My ED brain took over, and my head began spinning with anger, fear, desperation, and hatred for the RPA who was “making me” eat something that I HATED. I put my head on the table and cried.
She came over to me after everyone finished their snack and she asked me a simple question: “Brooke, why are you here?” I snapped back and said something to the effect of, “HELL IF I KNOW!”
Then she looked at me deep into my eyes and held up the picture of my children. She said, “I thought you were here for them. Do you think you can eat this snack for them?”
Boom. My kids.
Even at the moments I could not eat for myself, I needed to find the strength to eat for them. They were my why, the reason why I wanted to get better. At that harsh, yet true realization, I stomached through the whole bowl of cottage cheese for my kids. I didn’t like it, but I had a goal to accomplish. And that was greater than the snack I had to muster through.
Find your why
When we start any expedition, there is always a why in mind. Any journey, big or small, is centered around a why. Why did you start a college degree? Why did you start saving money? Why did you choose the career you did? Why did you marry the man/woman you now call your spouse?
Each and every person reading this has begun a mission with a set why in mind.
I saw an amazingly beautiful video the other day. The video was from a teaching conference. In the video a chorus instructor was asked to sing a few bars of “Amazing Grace” by the motivational speaker, and he gladly did.
Each note was hit, the tone was on point, and the words were all crisp and clean. The speaker then gave him a scenario. He said “now sing that same song like your uncle just got out of jail. You survived getting shot in the back, and – you know- put some of your childhood into it, man.”
The same man sang the same song with a gusto, soul, and feeling that would leave the hairs on your arms standing up… What was the difference? He was given a why.
Instead of going through the motion of simply singing “Amazing Grace” he was given a reason WHY he should be singing it. The difference was undeniable.
And don’t forget it
When I was faced with a difficult task in my recovery process, I easily forgot my why. That bowl of cottage cheese seemed bigger than my ultimate goal of full recovery. In that moment, I was ready to throw in the towel over one snack.
Thank goodness that Jessica was there to remind me of my why.
Ron Blue states,
The longer term your perspective, the better your decisions will be.
This quote has gotten me past many obstacles and fears in my recovery process. I still use his wise words today.
Everyone’s why in recovery can be different. Why do you want to be free from your eating disorder? Do you want a career without the constant distraction of the relentless drum of ED in your mind?
Or do you want to have a relationship free of lies, fear, pain, and struggle that an eating disorder can cultivate between your partner and yourself? Maybe you want to experience what it is like to have a family. Or you want to travel and see the world? Do you want to enjoy the beach, cocktails, or just a simple dinner with your best friend?
How about this… do you want to simply live?
It is so, so possible, my friend. Remember, there is always a why, sometimes you just need a reminder…
Why do you want to be free from your eating disorder? Share with me in the comments. Or share with your higher power. You can even share with your pet. Or your spouse. Or be creative and make a vision board of your why.
For goodness sake, share your why with yourself, because you matter. Your why matters.
Never forget that, warrior.
Your shared experiences with the readers, including me, have such an impact. I am in the very beginning stages of ED recovery. I am a mommy to three pre-teen boys (+ fur babies), a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a co-worker. Due to your perceptive post, today I will start asking myself the WHY or (WHY the heck NOT) when I make the decisions to eat or not eat. As I stand in front of the pantry or refrigerator and the ED voice is screaming loud and trying to control me – I am going to picture all my WHY’s in effort to place duct tape over the mouth of the ED voice. Even if for a few moments, enough time to scarf down the needed milk for electrolytes or PB sandwich for protein. I need to reveal the WHY’s I am fighting for – myself, my health, my family, my beloved pets and so forth.
Thank you for your written words. Please know they are reaching others and having great impact.
Wow, Kristin- I am so thankful that my journey gives you hope and motivation for your own. It truly makes my struggle not in vain. Thank you for sharing this with me. I’ll cheers a peanut butter sandwich in solidarity for you today!