What Recovery Is, and What It Isn’t

Jessica - Spring, Texas
Entered on November 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I used to have a skewed perception of what recovery was. How could I not? I had a skewed perception of the eating disorder – something that had been a familiar crutch in my life for well over a decade, so being off on what recovery meant, well, that has been a very eye opening experience, and through this experience, this I believe.

What is recovery? Recovery is about being flexible. Recovery is about being honest, open minded, and willing. Recovery is about being realistic and learning how to just be: with thoughts, be with people, be a PART OF, instead of apart from. It is about feeling proud and empowered when you are right, and having humility and integrity when you’re wrong. Recovery is a dance. Sometimes it’s beautiful and free flowing, and other times there’s a lot of toe stepping. Recovery is about having faith and putting confidence in something that is not tangible. Recovery is about chance, and it’s about change. Stepping out of the box and creating new and healthy boundaries that if ever you need to retreat back in to the box, the boundaries are no longer constraining; they are safe. The box is breathable.

I have come to believe that recovery is not innately knowing how to feel at peace with stressful situations. Stress, Fear, Anxiety are human emotions, and as long as we are human we will at one point or another come across those feelings. Feelings can just be feelings. We can accept feelings, we can feel them. At the end of the day it’s not about feeling good all of the time, it’s about taking the ebb and flow of life in stride.

Recovery is about looking in the mirror and seeing a person with life behind your eyes. It isn’t about always accepting every part of your body – that is not realistic either. Today we live in a society of plastic surgery and hair dye; of teeth whitening trays and tanning oils. It seems as though everyone is doing something to change the way they look, and everyone has a very valid and logical reason for it.

When is it that we stopped being beautiful just as we are?

I think the most important part of recovery is realizing that while one can completely recover from an eating disorder, one cannot recover from life. Life will always hold some level of discomfort, there will always be “something”, but it’s amazing how much easier and brighter living life is, when there is actual living involved. Things just cease to be so complicated. That does not mean that life is without complication, it just means that it’s doable. It’s not suffocating. There is always breathing room. Recovery is not easy, but it’s worth it. Recovery may not always be beautiful, but it is a beautiful ride.