"It is hard to celebrate something that feels so flawed right in the middle of digging myself out of a deep hole. However, I cannot allow the hard times to rob me of the victories I have worked so hard for."
Today is my 16 year recovery anniversary from anorexia. Every year I celebrate in a different way but it is always a celebration of choosing life. This year, I have had a hard time coming up with how I want to mark the day; I even had a hard time writing this. With behavioral addictions like eating disorders, recovery is harder to define than simply letting go of a substance. It is not as clear-cut as never touching the behavior again. My anorexic thoughts and behaviors are still very much a part of my day to day life but I have not, in all these years, surrendered to them by skipping a meal. The way I define my recovery is that I have had 3 meals a day, every day for 16 years. Even in writing, that fills me with pride.
These past few months have been the closest I have come to relapse in over a decade. In my Twelve Step Recovery program, we call this a slip. The combination of quarantine in addition to stress in my personal life, have sent me into a big slip. The stress and anxiety caused me to lose my appetite entirely and begin restricting my eating enough to cause a significant amount of weight loss. Although I have begun to turn it around by bulking up my caloric intake and adding snacks in between meals, putting the pounds back on has been challenging to say the least.
As this anniversary day has approached, thoughts have been circling in my head., Am I even deserving of a celebration? Would celebrating be dishonest? How do I even celebrate when it is so hard for me to feel proud of my recovery right now?
Thankfully, I have started to shift perspectives just in time for today. I am a mental health professional and I am a strong believer in celebrating the wins so that they can be multiplied.
It is hard to celebrate something that feels so flawed right in the middle of digging myself out of a deep hole. However, I cannot allow the hard times to rob me of the victories I have worked so hard for. I am in the process of turning this slip around and have met it with so much less fear and resistance than I would have in the past; and that, in itself, is worth celebrating.
Today, I will hold my head high because I know that there is growth and recovery even in the slips, relapses and imperfection. There are many reasons why non-linear recovery deserves to be celebrated; below are a few I felt worth listing:
- Part of being resilient is getting through the hard times and letting the small wins create momentum.
- Perfectionism is the death of progress. If I were waiting for perfect recovery, I would not have any at all.
- Being reminded of how far this disease can drag me down if I am not careful is a reminder to keep my foundation strong so that I am less vulnerable to a slip.
- The hard times show me how fortunate I am to have so much support when I need it. My family, close friends, 12-step community and amazing partner have all held and supported me through this. I am not alone.
- My partner continues to show me that I am still worthy of love and support even on my darkest days and that he will stand by me through them.
Most of all, this recent slip has taught me to be kinder to myself. Feeling like a failure will not get me anywhere. I have a disease that has been trying to take me out for two decades, and no matter how imperfect my recovery has been, I will not let it.
Whatever it is that you are going through during these trying times - whether it is addiction, self loathing, old demons coming back to haunt you, or the loss of positive momentum - forgive yourself. It is the only way to move forward.
Corina's Upcoming Events:
Join Corina Seligman, Wellness Coach, for a weekly interactive 1-hour guided meditation and journaling experience from the comfort of your own home. Every workshop will address a different step in the journey of letting go for transformation. Join us every Tuesday in July 2020. All are welcome!
July 7 – Uncovering Your True Self: Mental clarity, declaration of purpose, letting go of false self-narratives.
July 14 – Commitment to Transformation: Letting go of limiting behaviors, creating space for healthy habits, examining what is holding you back.
July 21- Taking Action and Creating Change: Tapping into courage and personal power, sustainable motivation, establishing new routines.
July 28 – Self-Forgiveness and Moving Forward: Adding more flow to your life, self-acceptance, breaking free of the past, leaving emotional baggage behind.