A couple weeks ago, a client and I were talking about eating disorder recovery. Specifically, we talked about the very human, relatable part of us that hopes for healing to be prompted by some sort of epiphany or answered prayer.
I thought back to this post.
When I wrote it six years ago, I was remembering being pre-contemplative about ED recovery. I looked back on those years in my twenties when I wanted to want to recover, but didn’t actually want to recover.
There were things I had started to hate about being sick. No one suffers more frustration or exhaustion or exasperation at the hands of an eating disorder than the person who’s living with it. But wanting relief is not quite the same as wanting to heal.
Healing demands both sacrifice—letting go of the parts of ED that have been comforting and affirmed your sense of self—and action.
I often tell my clients that no one can recovery from ED in their head. This is true. A lot of inner work usually has to happen in order for recovery to be possible, which is why therapy and trauma work are such important parts of the process.
But no amount of inner exploration will change the fact that eating disorders result in unhealthy, dangerous food behaviors. Those behaviors, and the physical consequences that result from them, need to be addressed in order for recovery to take place.
Recovery necessitates action. In fact, action usually comes before readiness. In learning to eat normally again, you become a person who eats normally. In resisting the old behaviors—painstakingly at first—you come to realize that you can live without them. You find out who you are without them.
That’s what that 2016 blog post about was all about.
As I’ve noted many times before, one silver lining of having to recover from anorexia is that it taught me something about healing and growth. It gave me a roadmap that now guides me when I struggle in different ways.
I’ve been thinking about this issue of action lately and realizing how important it is for me. I’m all too prone to busying myself as a way of avoiding things, and that’s not the kind of action that I’m talking about here. I’m talking about small, intentional actions that make growth possible.
My yoga teacher often mentions taking the “next right action.” In AA, there’s often talk of doing the “next right thing.” Sharon Salzberg says, “do the good that’s in front of you, even if it feels small.”
At this moment, action looks like taking steps—some small, some big—to find more meaning and joy in my life.
It looks like gently accepting of depression as an ongoing struggle while also while also actively maintaining habits and routines that help to prevent and shorten depressive spells.
Action looks like spending less time talking about changes that I’d like to make within my professional life and more time experimenting with new business strategies.
Action is things, such as moving this coming summer, that remind me—and perhaps also signal to the universe—that I’m not afraid of change.
I’m excellent at living in my head, which has always been a very safe place for me to be. What I’ve learned, though, is that I don’t solve a lot of problems up there. I figure out how I want to live and who I want to become by getting out of my head and into the world.
I couldn’t recover from my eating disorder in my head. I’m not going to evolve, or learn how to stop getting in my own way, up in my head, either.
I don’t know what growth lies ahead of me in the next decade of my life, but I do know that I’d prefer to experiment than be stuck. I’d rather take risks than be paralyzed by fear or clinging to comfort.
We’ll see. I’d love for this coming summer to be more full-than-usual of action. Nothing crazy, necessarily, though I’d welcome big moves. Just a willingness to do, rather than perseverate.
Today, I did the next right thing, which was to spend a day walking around the city in beautiful weather, allowing myself to feel good after a long, busy week.
Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
I wish Jackie’s strawberry rhubarb crumble cake had been my breakfast today!
What an awesome looking vegan potato salad.
Jessica’s vegan sofritas looks so good.
Leave it to my talented friend Brit to think of strawberry shortcake cupcakes—genius!
1. It’s been fascinating to read about the viral bionic reading hack.
2. In the dietetics community, there’s long been a push to reassess some of the strict guidelines around diet for chronic kidney disease. I’m glad that the evidence is helping that push to gain traction.
3. A fascinating, personally prompted examination of the fight to save a disappearing species of fish, the Clear Lake Hitch.
4. A beautiful, touching book review and interview with an author who writes about the necessity of love for human survival.
5. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Epicurious about making tofu scramble, which I already think is awesome, even better. I’ll never get tired of singing the praises of my favorite savory breakfast.
In other news, this is my 100th weekend reading post!
When I first started this Sunday tradition, I was in grad school. I wanted to publish more often without the pressure to create new recipe content. I decided to write about other people’s recipes that had caught my eye. While I was at it, I mentioned things I’d read that had prompted me to think or feel.
I had no idea that these posts would become such a cherished part of my life on this blog. Thanks for checking them out, engaging with them, and encouraging me to continue. It’s because of readers that weekend reading grew into the very meaningful check-in, processing space, and journal that it is for me now.
Addendum: Just kidding! 😂 This is not my 100th post, as a reader with better arithmetic skills than me pointed out over DM. There have been a whole lot more than 100. It’s my 100th weekend reading post since I redesigned my blog a couple years ago. Oops—but the sentiment is the same 😉
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