By: Melena Steffes
How do you stay in recovery when your surroundings are all the perfect storm for relapse? When your love life may have just fallen apart, maybe your grades dropped a letter, or if you’re in a fight with your best friend?
We hear, day in and day out, that recovery is a fight. And it is. It’s just that some days can feel a lot more hellish than others.
But it’s what we do with those days, what we take from them, that may help us grow new again, and come through stronger and more resilient than we were before. Some days, we may not be willing to want recovery 100% and although that is the ideal choice- to always want to be recovered, it isn’t always that simple. So, on days when I am ambivalent, I remember the things that I want-to-want.
Written down, I have a list of reasons why I want recovery. But then I also have a list of things that I want-to-want. Things that I know will help me get further in recovery, but am still pretty ambivalent about implementing. If you also struggle with keeping your eyes focused on recovery, maybe making a list could help you as well.
Somedays, if it’s just an extraordinarily hard day and I don’t want to follow part of my meal plan- I’ll remember that I want-to-want to do it, somewhere deep down. So even if I feel like I don’t want to eat that plate of food, even if it feels like the hardest thing in the world to me in that moment, I do it. I do it because I know that deep down, even though I am having a hard time at that moment- I know that choosing life and recovery is what I desire and deserve more than pleasing my eating disorder for a brief second.
(Because we all know that it’s never satisfied for much longer than that).
Having kind of a “backup” plan, goals, etc., that I want for my future is really helpful for combating ambivalence, because I am then able to fight for something that I may not be able to fully fight for or process in that particular moment.
Some examples of this may be:
- I want to want body acceptance, instead of settling for staying complacent with feeling as though I never will be able to attain that
- I want to want to follow my meal plan and be 100% compliant, to fight for health. I want this even though my eating disorder tries to convince me otherwise, because I know that my ED will never be satisfied anyway
- I want-to-want to stop restricting so that I can live a life no longer centered on a maladaptive coping method
For me, ambivalence was something that seemed to always creep back in. So by having things listed to keep me moving forward was helpful for staying on track and on the road to being fully recovered. When my therapist suggested making a list like this, I didn’t expect for it to make such a big impact on my thought processes, but I have found a new form of motivation through doing it.
Melena Steffes is 21 years old, studying journalism with a minor in psychology at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. She is passionate about mental health advocacy and eating disorder awareness and therefore writes majority of her pieces around those topics. Being in recovery herself, she has been personally impacted by the power of words from some of her favorite authors. She wants to give back to the recovery community herself through writing. She believes that Project HEAL is an organization that has a profound impact, and strong mission which is one of many reasons why she wants to be involved and volunteer. As of 2017 she is also one of Project HEAL’s blog managers. If she’s not writing, you can catch her playing fetch with her new kitten or drinking coffee at a nearby coffee shop.