By: Paige T., Renfrew Alumna
To those in this fight,
Disclaimer: this is not a ‘recovery is so beautiful’ letter so if that is what you are looking for, look elsewhere. Depending on where you are in your recovery, you might be realizing this thing we call recovery is not a one-time battle – it’s a war. I want to share the truth about how I think we can win this war. The truth as I experienced it. The truth that can be hard to swallow sometimes, but it’s also the truth that saved my life. I am grateful someone was honest enough to share it with me before it was too late. So here goes nothing…
If I could tell those who feel stuck in their recovery one thing, I would tell them, “It’s okay to feel stuck, but that doesn’t mean you can let up.” Keep fighting and embrace the messiness. Whatever you do, don’t wait for someone to sweep you off your feet, for everything to click, or for the eating disorder to give up. The harsh reality is, if you do, you might be waiting forever.
So get dirty, fall down, break down, do that thing you’ve been avoiding, have that gut wrenching conversation, cry out, scream at the top of your lungs. There might not be a profound “aha” moment coming your way, but if you look close enough, there will be these little moments when you can look back and say, “Wow, I couldn’t do that a few months ago” or “I actually enjoyed that.” But just like all of our emotions, they don’t stick around for long, so do what you need to in order to celebrate that moment. Write it down, share it with people, allow yourself to feel it, but when it fades, don’t be discouraged. That is part of the process. If these moments weren’t fleeting how would we push ourselves to keep going and striving for more of these moments?
Recovery takes strength, but I think there is a special kind of strength that honest recovery brings out in someone. I call this special kind of strength “grit.” People talk about these moments of progress, appreciation and beauty throughout the recovery process, but what people don’t talk about enough is waking up in the morning when your urges feel like they are going to consume you and you have to do it all over again day in and day out. We could try and find the beauty in this and we can also call it for what it is. It sucks.
This is where grit comes in. Grit is waking up and eating a balanced breakfast after challenging yourself with a big dinner the night before. Grit doesn’t say you have to do it with a smile on your face; it just says you’ve got to find a way. Grit is not waiting for it to get easier, it is waking up and putting in the work even when it feels like it will never end. Its finishing the meal despite feeling like you are going to explode. Its confronting that person. It is facing the mirror. Its trusting the process, even when you can’t stand to be in your own body.
I have a theory that recovery is living life with a little extra grit. The good news is, I truly believe grit is inside all of us. So go find your grit and create moments to cherish because you are the only one who can make it happen.
Your fellow Renfrew Alum,