Emily Weinig, the author of this blog post, is the founder and president of Recovery Is Now and the author of the recovery workbook, Recovery Planner. When Emily is not busy running Recovery Is Now, she loves spending time with friends, enjoying the outdoors, and expressing herself through art. She drew the picture below, titled “Growth” during her own path to eating disorder recovery.
I examined the glass bottle of silky liquid that I twirled in my hand and it elicited unfamiliar emotions from deep within me. Pride, courage, and anticipation, to name a few. The feelings felt tingly as they bubbled inside me.
I had purchased the bottle of nail polish the night before while spending the few hours allotted to me away from residential treatment for my eating disorder. I had recently found that painting my nails was a spectacular coping mechanism in dealing with self-destructive urges, so I sought to purchase a bottle during my night out. While I looked at assorted colors of polish and their names I came across a bold red named “Fierce, No Fear” and became immediately enamored. These three words, I decided, would be the new mantra of my recovery.
The name meant so much to me because I’ve come to realize that I have always been afraid. Due to a plethora of formative experiences, I grew to be mortified by life and its every component, no matter how harmless the situation. As I grew older, the deep-seated terror grew to be my only motivator. It began to make decisions for me that kept me quiet, alone, and compromised. I grew so accustomed to it that, in observing the demeanor of others, I assumed they conquered the same demons with ease. I concluded that they were simply better than me and decided that I deserved every ounce of the captivity I experienced.
I challenged the thought that I deserved fear for the first time when I became financially independent, which included living on my own for the first time. I did this at 19 years old with the support of a very close friend. With her insightful advice I came to realize that I could not continue dependency and simultaneously embrace my personal growth. For the first time I chose my well being over the terrifying unknown. In a moment of strength, I overlooked the doubt instilled within me and packed my bags. This event ultimately became a monumental catalyst in my life that led to an enormity of other self-advocating decisions. With each decision I faced the terror that insisted, “You will fail in every way,” and instead chose to have faith in the glimmer of hope that whispered, “But what if you succeed?”
It turns out that the glimmer of hope was consistently correct. While success is typically measured by one’s ability to achieve the exact results for which one is striving, in reality, success is always attained no matter the outcome. This is because success is learning what works and learning what doesn’t. Success is being introduced to new ideas and experiences. The reason success is ever present in our lives is because everything life has to offer us includes a lesson and something new. However, while success is always attainable, there is one thing that inhibits success entirely. That inhibitor is fear.
Fear, when embraced, has the horrible capability to stop one from even attempting to reach success. It is for this exact reason that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous line, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” is so powerfully accurate. Without that terror, we have the ability to endlessly move forward. With this knowledge in mind, I consciously began ignoring my fears whenever I noticed their presence in my life, no matter how difficult.
While continually facing fears, I wrote a mindfulness recovery workbook to help me conquer them. I designed it to motivate me, keep track of my goals, and help me progress over time. What I never anticipated was that it became the single most helpful tool that led to my recovery. Its impact in my progress was unfathomably immense. And despite great doubt, hesitation, and fear, I named it Recovery Planner and published it. I did this because I was compelled to give the eating disorder recovery community access to such a powerful recovery tool. I wanted to share it with the world so that others suffering from similar demons could face their fears once and for all, too.
Despite my continued efforts to fight my demons, fear occasionally still haunts my mind. When it does, it often creeps up in a way that makes it indistinguishable at first. Although terror may disguise itself in a way that makes it appear as an asset or an aid, I’m one step ahead. Because of my history, I’m particularly alert to its presence. So, when it does rear its ugly head in my thoughts, I firmly say to myself, “Fierce. No fear,” and brace myself. Because in conquering fear, nothing can stop me.