A lot of us who suffer, or have suffered from an eating disorder, are very familiar with the tendency to make comparisons. We tend to have a high perfectionistic drive and if we see someone doing something well, there is a feeling that we need to do it as well (which would merely be “acceptable”) OR better, so we feel that we’re doing a good job too.
The same goes for recovery.
When I first started my recovery journey, I was always comparing myself to other people who were also in recovery, and I started to feel like I wasn’t doing it well enough.
There were many times that I achieved something that felt like a monumental accomplishment but I wouldn’t even share it in group because other people were so much further along on their journey and accomplishing bigger and better things. I worried that they would think my accomplishment was stupid or trivial – so, I shamed myself into silence.
Unfortunately, by not celebrating those small victories, I was not giving myself enough credit, which affected my motivation and confidence to keep going.
After all, what boosts confidence better than success? When I failed to honor those early successes, I had no foundation to build my inner strength upon. I began to not trust myself in recovery similar to how I had not trusted myself in my eating disorder.
I had many false starts in recovery, and the one major difference between all of those times and the time I finally DID get better was building an unshakable foundation. A foundation combined with an immense amount of inner strength, eventually taught me how to trust myself.
What changed was that I celebrated everything and I congratulated the heck out of myself for even the tiniest things. Even one less purge in a day…or just not completely finishing a planned binge, was a big deal because it was excruciatingly difficult. And I celebrated that. I thought about it, and how hard it was, I journaled about how proud I was of myself, or sent a message to my therapist, whatever I had to do to honor my accomplishment.
Eventually, the things that were once impossibly challenging will become a part of your everyday life. There will come a point where days and weeks, or even years, go by where you don’t even need to fight your eating disorder anymore, where that voice is so far gone from your head, it would feel like a foreign language if you ever did hear it again. Still, that doesn’t make whatever you achieve today any less significant.
It might not feel like a big deal to you now because you know you are capable of bigger and better things – and you will get there, but as someone who has experienced both minuscule and massive victories in recovery, I promise you that each and every single one is worth being celebrated.
When people build buildings or great monuments, there are many different pieces and many different sizes that make up the completed work. Without the smaller pieces, especially the ones nearest to the foundation, the entire structure would crumble.
So, every time you place a new stone into what will become your recovery monument, congratulate yourself for adding another piece (no matter how big or small) to the incredible, ever-changing, ever-evolving ~ sometimes totally abstract ~ work of art that is your recovery.
And if others around you are building their recovery sculptures, too, realize that each one will be as unique as each of you are. Some will crumble and need to be rebuilt again, some will need bigger stones in certain places where yours will only require smaller stones…and vice versa.
Just honor yourself for every single building block you add to that structure. Some days there will be very large boulders and sometimes just tiny specs of dust, but when you see the finished product, each big, medium-sized and small building block will become part of one large, beautiful structure that YOU built – piece by piece.
This post was written by Jeanette Batur
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