Eating disorder recovery is often described as a journey because… well because it is really. You certainly don’t just pop a magic pill and the next day you are recovered (if only!!).
Eating disorder recovery is generally quite a messy, painful, bumpy process of tears, snot, frustration and quite a lot of food.
But it is a journey and if we do it right then there is an end which is life as someone who once had an eating disorder -a recovered life!
Due to the fact that recovery is often spoken of as a journey, we often refer to some sort of hypothetical recovery vehicle, such as a train or wagon and more recently this has taken a nautical theme with a boat!
So today I’m going to continue the nautical recovery theme to talk about the terror of drifting when in eating disorder recovery.
When we are sailing along in our recovery boat, we face a lot of storms and there are times it also gets very foggy (I have written more about recovery fog in a previous post.).
The journey can frequently seem never-ending. Although sometimes we can see a glimmer of our destination, there are other days we cannot yet even imagine what it might look like when we get to where we are going.
At times on this long journey it feels like we are making good progress and it is smooth sailing but at other times we face a storm and this can make it feel as though we have been set back and will need to cover the same miles again.
And then, along this tiresome, exhausting and long voyage that is far from a pleasure cruise, we reach a point when we are really quite knackered.
We have been through a lot of storms and we worked really hard to get to where we have and we tell ourselves that we have done really well. We can start to see where we have still got to get to but it remains a little way off.
We know that the end of the journey is going to involve more hard work, more fog and a few more storms will be encountered… but just where we are now actually feels quite comfortable and there’s little reason externally to keep working so hard as the water is calm and the sun is out. We feel positive and consider that maybe if we just drift for a while we might well drift in the right direction.
The concentration and time we have put into getting this far has distracted us from other things in life and perhaps we want to shift our focus to these other parts of our life, aside from recovery for a time.
So we do start to drift. We take the focus off pushing ahead on the recovery journey and the boat pretty much does its own thing.
Of course the danger of drifting is it can knock us off course and might even start to drift back to where we have already been and the past we set off on the journey to escape.
In previous recovery attempts, I allowed myself to start drifting before I reached a meaningful recovery and it never ended well.
So this recovery where I am making changes and progress like I never have before and I have survived some horrendous storms, I am more terrified of drifting than ever and I think it is right to be so as I have to stay the course.
There are days when I have realised that drifting could be very easy and I could just happily sail through the day eating what I’m eating now, doing what I’m doing now and likely staying at the weight that I am now because it feels ‘safe’ in my mind. There are days I can sense that drifting has set in when I know I am not putting everything I can into getting on with that last bit of the journey.
Drifting is terrifying but all too easy and despite the terror I know I could still fall into the trap of it.
So I am using everything I can to stay aware and stay vigilant to the dangers of drifts and instead I will endeavour to keep my sail up and no matter how many more storms and days of difficult sailing lie ahead, I need to keep pushing forward and never allow myself to drift until I am fully recovered!