This is a guest post by Gina Chirichella.
I spend a lot of time on my own blog writing dance metaphors for recovery. There are a few reasons for this. Besides the fact that I LOVE dance and finally get to take classes on a regular basis and I love metaphor (it’s my favorite literary device…do YOU have a favorite literary device?), I happen to take from teachers that throw out little sayings that apply so well to recovery.
I was in a class today and the teacher was trying to get us to “let go,” to trust ourselves to move in a way that felt dangerous or scary, but we were probably all capable of doing.
She said if you go for it and you fall, it’s just information for you, not a reason to stop trying.
My brain started reeling on that one. It was very true in the class, but this is a blog about recovery, so I’m going to head in that direction.
I’m at a point in recovery where I’ve been mostly physically stable for quite a few months. I was in intensive treatment (residential, PHP, IOP) from December to May and I worked my little butt off while I had the support. I discharged because I was really ready to step down, not because of insurance (fortunately) or because I had hit a wall and wasn’t willing to work through it.
Nonetheless, it’s been hard. My weight has wavered as has my motivation at times. I know that eating my meal plan is a realistic goal — I had been doing the SAME meal plan for a long time. I also know that the emotional work I’m being asked to do it what I need to do at this point in recovery. Yet I’m so hesitant to really commit to doing any of it. Instead, I’m spending time dancing around kiiiiind of doing it and kind of just hanging out in limbo. (Given, it’s a better limbo than I was in before I went into treatment, but still…)
A big part of the reason I’m unwilling to commit is because I’m afraid to fail. I think as a group, people with eating disorders are generally hyper-critical of themselves and I am no exception. Now that I’m actually wanting to get and stay well, I’m afraid of trying hard and failing. (I have a friend that would say, “you’re being so eating disordered about your recovery!” she’s right…)
More than “failing,” I’m afraid of trying something, faltering, and feeling too defeated to try again.
Wouldn’t it be a nice mind shift if I could see a falter as more information for myself?
What if anytime you slipped, had a hard meal or snack, maybe had a small lapse (or even a relapse) instead of saying f*ck it, you said, “okay, now I know a little bit more so that I can be more grounded, more certain next time.” (Let’s be realistic, we’ve all had the “f*ck it” experience…) The way I would like to see it is I’m never going to know what I’m capable of if I don’t try. If I try to have a harder meal, do some difficult stuff in therapy etc and I struggle, I know my limits, I know where to start next time. If I try and I succeed…well hell, now I’m further than I thought I could be.
So often recovery seems daunting, so black and white (either you are doing well or struggling, there is no in between). What if you’re doing well and gathering information to continue doing well. Or struggling, but learning where to pick up the pieces.
Using every experience as a way to gather data is a great way to put a gray area into a world that feels SO black and white at times (at least my world feels very black and white). Sometimes it feels difficult to think about reframing an ENTIRE process like recovery so for myself I made the goal a bit more manageable. I’m working on sticking to my meal plan and incorporating more “scary foods.” I’m also working on being more flexible — allowing spontaneous things to happen with food and know that I can go back to the meal plan at the next meal or snack no matter what happens in the interim (sometimes I get lost in the interim…). So I’m going to work on noticing what happens when I let go…what is conducive to my success and what situations cause me to lapse or feel out of control.
How can you learn to let go and give yourself a chance to gather new information? Start small, don’t scare yourself doing something that’s supposed to be helpful (I’ve certainly done this. Very counter productive..).
And remember, if you fall, it’s just information to use for next time…