I remember the violent race of my heart when they told me I was on exercise restriction and wouldn’t even be allowed to walk the grounds surrounding the main lodge at Remuda Ranch. I remember when the dietician handed me an index card listing my exchanges which detailed how much food I had to eat everyday. I remember wondering if everyone there was lying to me about how much they cared. I remember feeling like I was going to die.
Finally in one tearful session, my counselor, Kari, suggested, “You know, you can always go back.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“Why not try this? Try to listen to me and do what I promise is good for you. Trust the nurses and dietitians and do what they are telling you is good for your body. If we are wrong, if everyone really is lying to you, when you get home, you can always go back to what you’re doing now. You know how to be anorexic. You do not know how be healthy and to take good care of your body. Just try this.”
Obviously, Kari never wanted me to relapse into eating disordered behaviors, but what she said lent me a little power. It gave me a choice in the matter. It felt like a reasonable request that I try healthy behaviors for a while. Almost 20 years later, I know Kari was right. Every single day, the absolute value of freedom from my eating disorder is proved again and again. My treatment team was right.
A few days ago, I heard Jenni Schaefer in a video recorded for the FINDINGBalance Gatherings. She said that true recovery came when she got rid of her backup plan. Another writer calls it being 99% recovered. This is appearing healthy and participating in life again – admittedly a long way from where we started – but not experiencing complete emotional and mental freedom from all fears surrounding food and body image.
When I was in treatment for the first time, establishing that backup plan was the safety net I needed to take my first shaky step toward recovery. But I have burned that bridge to the past.
I don’t want to be almost recovered. I don’t want to merely look healthy. There is no backup plan.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Relapse Prevention – Time Travel Letter, video resource
Time Warp, by Abby Kelly
Daily Vitamin, devotional resource