How I Stay on Track with Recovery
Updated: May 13, 2020
Over the past year, I have experienced periods of (almost full) freedom from any abusive and intrusive thoughts, and also felt the all consuming pain of my insecurities and worthlessness.
In looking back and understanding how my mentality and mental health shifted through these times, I have come to recognize how in doing two things, I am able to ground myself in whatever experience I may be faced with. In doing this, I am much more likely to choose to "do something differently," do something recovery oriented, because of that extra layer of heightened self awareness.
Disclaimer: Of course, this may not work for everyone. That's not what I'm saying. Everyone's recovery process looks different because everyone's pain and suffering is the product of their own unique experiences.
1. Remind myself of what I am passionate about
I have always been extremely interested in and passionate about advocacy work. Throughout high school, I was part of various organizations that aimed to spread awareness around my school community about different human rights issues. I continued this trend in university, and have found that engaging in this field of work brings me joy and happiness.
I have also taken part in various service trips around the world, where I hoped to impact at least one other person's life in a new and authentic way. I have always known that I want to devote my life to fighting for the underrepresented and give a voice to the voiceless. As cheesy and cliche as that sounds, this is a passion that I've held close to my heart for so long now.
Whenever I watch documentaries about suffering and inequalities in the world, I am enraged. It fucking upsets me that the world is the way it is and there is the amount of suffering that is present. Whereas in high school, I devoted my time to fight for human rights and equality, my passion has been diverted to topics of body image, health sciences, and eating disorders.
I spend my free time reading up on the neuroscience and anatomy behind our metabolisms, why diets don't work, the myth of thinness, health at every size, and self acceptance. No one told me to buy and read these books, they genuinely fill me with joy and my interest in these issues drive me to devote my leisure time to these things.
Because of how passionate I am about issues of body positivity, eating disorder awareness, mindfulness, and even perfectionism, I know that I want to devote my life to spreading awareness about the issues that I've researched. I don't want people to spend their lives hating themselves because they didn't know that anything else was possible.
I don't want people to buy into lies that different industries propel at us and waste their time and resources trying to gain a sense of worthiness. I don't want people to be controlled by their thoughts and live their life as a slave to their minds, but want to introduce the concept of mindfulness to them and teach them everything I've learned over these past few years.
2. Remember my individuality
I have spent the larger part of my life living under the weight of my insecurities, and I can see how all my past experiences were somewhat clouded by this pain.
I was always seeking validation from others and spent all my time and resources devoted to proving myself to not only myself, but everyone around me.
It wasn't out of vanity, but it was all out of pain. My insecurities weighed me down in every sense of the word, and they tainted even the happiest of memories that I have because of how it influenced the way in which I was able to show up.
I am beginning to recognize how automatic this process is, to subject myself to the ridicule and abuse my mind is used to believing as the truth, and to feel inadequate and unworthy as I am. I am learning how to define my own self worth. Not out of what I do or who I please, but truly finding a companion in myself and enjoying my own company. I can't feel love from others unless I give it to myself. I can't feel validated by others unless I validate myself. No one can save or rescue me. This is my life and this is my mind.
In the same way no one can save me, I cannot save anyone else. I cannot protect others from feeling hurt, pain, happiness, fear, or any other emotion. Everyone is living their own lives and only they have the agency to tame their mind and save themselves.
I remember to value recovery by remembering this - if I am ever faced with any triggers, I remind myself that I have the choice in how I want to respond. Triggers describe any phrase, activity, or environment that may bring up urges to engage in a disordered or self-destructive way, or even simply bring up any painful emotions associated.
For example, if I see someone clearly restrict when I know it is time for me to eat a meal - I can either be influenced by their actions and choose to go down the rabbit hole of eating disorder behaviors in the hopes of gaining a sense of worthiness, or I can stay grounded in what I know about nutrition, eating disorder behaviors, and what works for me. I tell myself "okay this person is choosing to do this, but I know that if I don't eat, this will happen to my metabolism/it won't do what I want it to (as I know from all my "experiments" with my body overtime), and I was very unhappy when I was doing those same things."
With that self awareness, I have the ability to step away from the situation and remember that I am on my own journey. That I know everything I know for a reason, and to use that knowledge in the most uplifting way I can.