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Wise Words From Jenni Schaefer

Posted May 24 2012 3:53am

Obviously from yesterday’s post my recovery is not going as smoothly as I would hope. It isn’t supposed to, and I have often said when I am doing “well,” and challenging myself, I truly believe it is some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life, but regardless of my current downfalls ED is way too good at convincing me my half-ass attempts are sufficient to get back my life.

He is so persuasive, of course, because it means he can still be there.

By choosing safe foods, still exercising to burn off those calories, and suppressing my feelings, there is still opportunity for him to control me in some way.

Even with the most miniscule presence, it is still allowing the door to be cracked for complete infiltration if he waits for just the right time; i.e. stress, a poor body image day, hurt feelings…whatever triggers I, or someone else, may have.

The sad thing is, even after 835835 attempts, and having a pretty big base of knowledge/arsenal of healthy coping skills, I STILL let the monster convince me I am doing a great job at defeating him.

Seriously, I absolutely believed all my efforts were working.

Don’t you remember the other day when I said I was finally feeling whole again? This is true to an extent, but my thought process is still VERY much, way TOO MUCH, in the disordered mindset.

Theoretically I know what to do to fix this problem, but I am very resistant to just “letting go.” And unfortunately, as illustrated by the article I am going to share with you below, a complete relinquishment of control, is the only way to truly heal.

A friend sent this to me a few hours before I published my Wednesday post, in which I disclosed my omission of the complete truth concerning current struggles. I think this friend knows me way too well, or has an eary sixth sense, because it was as if Jenni wrote this just for me.

*Ok I am not that special…I can guarantee pretty much anyone who continues to be wishy-washy in their recovery feels and does the same things I do, but that is beside the point.

I hope you find this as relevant as I do.

by Jenni Schaefer

If you are waiting for recovery to be easy, pull up a chair. You will be waiting for a long time. Ed (aka “ eating disorder ”) will gladly sit by your side and wait with you. To sabotage your success, Ed will even act like he supports certain aspects of your recovery.

If you like to read, Ed will say, “Just read this book about recovery, and you will be fine.” He will let you read the book, and congratulate you on doing it, but he won’t let you follow any of the guidance inside that will actually help you.

If you enjoy being around people, Ed will say, “Go to that therapy group, and get some help there.” Ed will let you go to the group, and may even let you participate, but he won’t let you talk about what you really need to talk about in order to heal.

If you like to surf the Internet, Ed will say, “Here’s a great website for you. Go ahead and join the online recovery forum.” He will let you join the online forum, and he will convince you that logging on is more important than eating.

Books, groups, and online resources can all be very helpful tools in your recovery. Just remember that recovery takes full commitment and real action. Real action is not simply opening a book, walking into a group room, or logging onto some website.

If you read a book about recovery, fully commit to the ideas in it that will make a difference in your life, not just the things that are easy to do. If you are in group therapy, talk about the issues that, deep inside, you know you need to discuss. If you are active in an online recovery community, use the positive support from online pals to hold yourself accountable to taking real action in your recovery. It’s not enough to just look at the tools—you really do have to use them.

Real action means drastic change. It also means realizing that Ed will sit by your side and try to sabotage you every step of the way. Ed will even use content from recovery books, groups, and websites to try to fuel his cause. Be aware of this and guard against it, and do what the books, groups, and websites suggest that is pro-recovery. Now that’s action.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “Half measures availed us nothing.” If you only do eating disorder recovery half way, at most, you will get a half way recovery from your eating disorder. In my experience, you won’t even get that.

During early recovery, I believed that insight would inspire change. I thought that if I just knew enough about eating disorders, and understood myself, I would get better. I learned as much as I could from all of the resources available to me, and I waited for a magical change. I waited for the urge to binge to just go away. I waited to fall in love with my body. I waited for my fear of food to simply subside. And Ed waited right along with me.

I waited. I waited, and I waited some more. I would still be waiting today if intense pain had not pushed me into taking some real action. In my personal experience, pain and discomfort have most often been the motivating factors to get me to change. (For the record, I don’t think it has to be this way. That is why I write about my experiences. I hope that other people won’t have to reach the same level of pain I did before making changes.)

In my recovery, taking action meant tackling the food directly. I stopped purging after bingeing. I also did my best to not binge, which meant tolerating uncomfortable feelings (to say the very least). I ate without restricting. My body changed accordingly, and I felt awful. I felt so bad that I told my mom many times that I didn’t know if I could keep fighting. I hated the way my body was changing, and I hated how it made me feel inside even more. I felt like a different person entirely — someone I didn’t know or like. I felt trapped.

When we fully commit to recovery, we are signing up for hurt. Full commitment means we no longer make decisions based on how we feel in the short run (turning to Ed for immediate gratification), but instead we make decisions based on our long-term goals of health and a full recovery. In the beginning, success can actually feel fat and miserable. So stop waiting for things to be easy and start looking for the hard part. Tackling the difficult, ironically, is when the “easy” will find you. If you push through the pain and move all the way to the other side, you won’t have to keep facing the same hurt over and over again. You will be well on your way to freedom.

Life is, in fact, much easier on the other side of the eating disorder. I am not afraid of food, I don’t get the urge to binge, and I love my body. Yes, I said “love”! Today success feels strong and joyful, no longer fat and miserable. I can’t wait for you to get to this point, too.

And you can’t afford to wait either! So, stop waiting and start changing.

*For those of you who don’t know, Jenni Schaefer is the author of Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Both are extremely well received in the recovery community and if you are looking for a resource of hope, you might want to check them out.

I would love to know your thoughts on this piece, just because I found the beginning segments, where she describes her past beliefs, to be a mirror image to my own.

I love how she provides inspiration in closing, and I really really really hope I, and anyone else who is having trouble with this pesky disease, can follow in her footsteps.

What are you going to do to change today?

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