The Parachute – A Beautiful Metaphor For Recovery

close up image of a muti colored parachute in the bright blue sky

I want to tell you a story about how a parachute can be a beautiful metaphor for recovery. Think of skydiving. You are an adrenaline junkie looking for a thrill. You want that same dangerous leap. It’s that leap that has given you purpose and escape time and time again.

You walk up to the plane; the cool wind is hitting your face. The orange sun is contrasting the mountain on the horizon. You are scared, excited, nervous, and ready… but the real reason you feel confident is because of one essential item: your parachute.

The parachute represents comfort and safety. When it is strapped to your back you feel like you can accomplish anything. You can even jumping out of a plane at 12,000 feet above the hard, rocky earth.

You are now in the air preparing for the jump. Your hands are gripping the parachute strapped to your back so tight your knuckles white. You are NOT letting that parachute go for ANY price.

It is the only thing that is keeping you safe from harm; the only thing that is going to help you survive the fall.

And then… the instructor comes. He informs you that your parachute is no good anymore- it will fail you. Looking you in the eyes, he kindly asks you to take off the familiar apparatus, hold onto him with all your might, and trust that you will be safely returned to the ground.

Wait, what? No parachute? Jump without a safely net you are accustomed to? Trust a total stranger with your life? Heeeelllllll no.

He then reiterates that the parachute is faulty and will lead to your demise… but you don’t believe him. He is lying. He does not know that for sure. How could he?

You have used it before… although the free falls have been turbulent and the landings have been close calls, you have always used this parachute. You look at the parachute with confusion, sadness, and love. 

It is hard to let go of something you have convinced yourself you can’t live without.

But, deep down a part of you knows the risk. You may not be so lucky this jump.  You have no choice. So, reluctantly, you hand over the parachute and attach yourself to the instructor. Then, you close your eyes, and leap.

As you are free falling, you are terrified.

The newness of taking the leap without your own safety net is absolutely petrifying. You grab on tighter to the instructor that you once fought so hard against.

While digging your face into his vest, tears come without warning. After a while, you begin to relax. You catch your breath and open one eye… then the other. You see the world coming into focus. And you have a new recognition of triumph as a new sensation washes over your body… freedom.

You hit the ground with a thud. Then, the instructor detaches you from him as you stand up on your own two feet. It takes a moment for you to get your footing, but you are nevertheless standing.

You look up toward the sky at the plane circling the field. And you remember the faithful yet outdated parachute that you left behind.

A tear comes to your cheek and a smile to your lips. You are alive. You made it – you are free. And you did the terrifying jump without the parachute.

Now- the beautiful metaphor

The jump from the plane represents life. It is unpredictable, wonderful, rocky, smooth, thrilling, and terrifying all at the same time. 

Life takes risk.

It takes faith. And life takes you on rides you thought you may never survive – and then you do. It’s a beautiful journey that you don’t want to miss.

The parachute is the eating disorder. It is seen by the person who trusts it as a safety net a needed companion for survival. Eating disorders begin within a person for a purpose to shield them, numb them, keep them “safe” from the trauma that life can bring. And then they become the demon- the faulty chute – that will falsely protect you and then lead you straight to harm.

Lastly, the instructor is the professionals that help lead you to safety. The team of people or the one person who is in their wise mind and separated from the talons of ED. A person who suffers from an eating disorder will think they are crazy at first… lying, hateful, mean, and full of crap. Then, they become your only pillar of truth while you learn to rebuild your tainted mind.

It is a beautiful thing, taking the leap of faith to your own freedom. Terrifying, but oh so worth the risk.

So, Warrior, I challenge you to give up your faulty parachute, grab onto the truth, and take the plunge into life without the safety net called ED.

When you finally stand on your own, the world looks like a completely new and beautiful place worth living.

Image: @sansharma

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