In recovery we face life challenges without obsessing on food, weight and body image. This does not mean we never have food, weight or body image issues. In recovery, we have the same issues everyone else has from time to time. Recovery means developing healthy perspectives, knowing we can feel safe and confident much of the time, while recognizing that we will still have moments of fear, pain and anger like everyone else. Recovery is not freedom from trouble and pain, but freedom from getting stuck in the quagmire of resentment and self-pity.
Before recovery, we binged, starved, purged, and obsessed in an effort to manage unwelcome emotions. The solution to an eating disorder has to do with accepting our thoughts and feelings, and finding safe and responsible ways to express them. There is no magic about recovery. When we take responsibility for understanding our needs and getting them met, and work the program of recovery, we walk free. It sounds so simple, but it is hard work, especially at first.
Recovery means rebuilding trust with ourselves and others; taking careful risks to learn what is safe and good for us. As we practice careful self-honesty and self-disclosure we regain perspective. Perspective enables us to see our options and make careful, responsible choices in our lives. As we learn careful self-expression, we regain lost authenticity, peace, and power. Working the Twelve Steps of the EDA program provides the peace and power needed to make lasting changes in perspective that enable us to break free from our eating disorders, develop balance, and recover. In all things, we aim for progress, not perfection. It is very important for us to claim our successes in achieving balance, attaining perspective, identifying and meeting our needs, and developing more resilient relationships with ourselves, with others, and with food.
Recovery is flexible and resilient. When we are on solid footing in recovery, and have found peace and balance, we are able to do all sorts of things that used to “trigger” our obsessive thinking and eating disordered behavior. We can go anywhere and do anything that normal folks do, without reengaging our eating disorders.
Once we have developed a manner of thinking that enables us to live without our eating disorders, we know we need never return to our old, damaging and limiting patterns of thought and behavior. When troubled, we take stock, seek to understand where our thinking has gone awry, make amends where needed, and immediately turn our attention to how we can best serve the greater good and those around us. It is a pattern for living that works under all conditions.
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A "milestone of recovery" is a self-defined marker on our journey in recovery. It is essential to recognize that even on our worst days we do things that are right and good and supportive of our recovery. Milestones -- which take myriad and often surprising forms -- are bright spots in our meetings that inspire us with their honesty and reality. We find, often in retrospect, that our milestones express how we are working the principles of the program in our lives. The principles - embodied in the 12 Steps of EDA - include Honesty, Equality, Accountability, Love, Trust and Humility (Health: the EDA motto). We claim as many milestones as we can!
SUGGESTIONS FOR BUILDING RECOVERY
Eat when hungry, stop when moderately full. Consistent nutrition is essential for recovery. Recovery is about feelings, not food, but we can't reason or build trust when bingeing, purging or starving.
Get basic needs met first. If hungry, eat. If angry, find a safe outlet. If lonely, reach out. If tired, sleep. If ashamed, talk about it.
Be an adult. This takes training and practice!
Go to 12-Step meetings, read the literature and work the steps with a sponsor.
Ask others for input and make your own decisions.
When anxious, get physical, get outside, pray or meditate. Then deal with the problem head-on.
Get open with others. Honesty restores integrity.
Develop willingness to look at things differently. Recovery is not rigid.
Be proactive and plan your recovery.
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EXAMPLES OF MILESTONES
"I ate a food last night for the first time in three years and it was great!"
"I took responsibility and let go of one of my boyfriends."
"I refused to let my wife tell me what to think about our daughter coming out."
"I am beginning to see what I have been getting out of having an eating disorder on an emotional level: among other things, it feels like a safe way to express my anger and frustration with life. I think I am ready to work out a different approach to dealing with anger."
"I got a sponsor and started working the 12 Steps."
"I thought about what might make me happy and decided to take dance lessons."
"I forgave my friend for disappointing me. I felt very mature about that."
"Ugh! I'm obsessing again, but at least I know it, and I'm being open about it."
"I finally weaned myself off laxatives. It's been twelve years since I've gone without them for this long!"
"I was feeling very hurt and rejected, and I said so calmly without expecting any particular response."
"My need for security always seems to conflict with my need for self-expression. It makes me mad and I want to escape! But I realized I'll never be safe until I allow myself to have and express ugly thoughts."
"I screamed what I was thinking on paper, and then I found I could talk about it calmly without blaming."
"I wanted to run and hide by being really busy, but I sat down and asked myself what I was afraid of. I made a new plan. My fears evaporated, and I felt terrific!"
"I was sad yesterday and I just let myself be sad."
"I almost ate something I hate because I didn't want to look eating disordered, but then I decided I care more about what I think than about what they think of me."
For the EDA Milestones and Balance brochure Click here