Through Thick and Thin: How to Keep Committing to Recovery

By Alison M. Sometimes, I just don’t want to do it anymore. Being aware of my imperfections, feeling painful feelings, doing what’s “right”, growing up. Recovery is hard work, and sometimes I wish I had never started. When I was still acting out my food obsession, and dieting and bingeing consumed my life, I only wanted to do the things that came easy. I never tried things I was sure I would fail at, and as my obsession deepened, that was just about everything. As a result, I never took piano lessons, or tried swimming lessons, I refused to audition for plays, avoided submitting stories to publications, and neglected to reach out to other people. If, as I did on rare occasions, try something new, I would get discouraged if I wasn’t an expert after my first try and would give up. If I had no choice, the only way I could get through it was by eating. I couldn’t stand those uncomfortable feelings of weakness, uncertainty, and vulnerability. More than anything, it made me angry to think there was one more thing I wasn’t good at because my entire sense of self was grounded in being the best.

Committing to Recovery from Food Obsession

It’s a miracle that I ever found my way to recovery because it is a process of change, growth, and learning that can be very uncomfortable. It is a new way of living that demands I start doing everything I ever avoided. With its setbacks, slow progress, and ongoing change, recovery feels overwhelming and exhausting sometimes. Every now and then, I feel like I am getting nowhere, wasting my time, energy and money, and I just want to give up. It’s during those times that I can learn and grow the most, if I commit to the process and overcome my negative thinking. But how do I commit when it’s the last thing I want to do? Meditation is an essential tool for helping me to stay committed during those tough times. My experience has taught me that when I commit to the breath and to letting go, things change and usually improve. Sometimes I just need a good cry, other times, my negativity is lifted altogether. Then I am reminded that I have no choice but to keep committing. Once I put the food obsession down, I ran out of ideas for avoiding life. I needed something to replace the food, and recovery did just that. So when I am disturbed, impatient, afraid, or angry, I no longer have the option of turning to the food. I only have what has kept me in recovery for the past two years: facing myself, learning how to accept life as it is, and letting go. When I get quiet and focus on my breath, especially in the morning, and let my thoughts run through my head without trying to control them, I find that I can get in touch with the truth: I want to keep recovering no matter what. It is in those quiet moments that I remember how horrible it was to be in the food obsession, and how much I have grown and changed for the best since starting on my journey. If I am able to connect with these truths early each day, I find that my day is more positive, centered and enjoyable. On the days that I don’t, the negative thoughts can be unbearable, and, eventually, I have to take some time to reconnect to what I really want in life: happiness, gratitude and peace of mind. As I get quiet with my unwillingness to commit, I see that it is caused by my attempts to make recovery into something it isn’t. I want results NOW and I want them with the least amount of hassle as possible and this is because of committing to recovery from food obsession. My frustrations and negativity are usually the result of my wanting to be somewhere or get something when it isn’t time. Unfortunately, recovery isn’t like that. It is an ongoing process that has no goal. By meditating on a daily basis, I am forced to face all that fear, impatience, and neediness and to see how it is a part of what made me turn to food in the first place. Just like my perfectionism kept me from doing things that I love, I can see how it keeps me from recovering. I see how I get caught up in a web of judgment and criticism that tangles me up in judgment and criticism of my judgment of my criticism. My mind races about, trying to find a way out, the perfect solution, or the perfect avoidance. As long as I stay present and focus on my centre, I come to a point where I have no choice but to accept where I am let it all go. Those moments are the most liberating and beneficial of all because they show me how I am in my life. In those moments, I see the truth: I can go crazy and turn to the food, or I can face myself, let of my need to be perfect, and feel better. When I see those moments as teachers, opportunities to move forward, and lessons to be learned instead of mistakes or wrong attitudes, my need to control my recovery is lessened, and peace of mind is no longer out of reach. That’s when the miracle of the breath takes over, and the moment passes. My willingness to stay present with my problems and to keep doing what I know will keep me healthy returns, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. But it does return, and I feel connected, centered, and hopeful again. Without those moments of fear, despair, and frustration, I would never appreciate the moments of freedom. I am filled with gratitude and remember the experience for the next time I find myself tangled up in a web of impatience and negativity. Underneath it all is the knowledge that I want to recover and that I don’t ever want to live the way I did when I was obsessed with food. With that knowledge, I can reach for the solution and get in touch with the deep love that tells me I’m worth it; life is worth it, no matter how hard it is.  

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