Wise Words From Jenni Schaefer

Obviously from yesterday’s post my recovery is not going as smoothly as I would hope. It isn’t supposed to, and I have often said when I am doing “well,” and challenging myself, I truly believe it is some of the hardest work I have ever done in my life, but regardless of my current downfalls ED is way too good at convincing me my half-ass attempts are sufficient to get back my life.

He is so persuasive, of course, because it means he can still be there.

By choosing safe foods, still exercising to burn off those calories, and suppressing my feelings, there is still opportunity for him to control me in some way.

Even with the most miniscule presence, it is still allowing the door to be cracked for complete infiltration if he waits for just the right time; i.e. stress, a poor body image day, hurt feelings…whatever triggers I, or someone else, may have.

The sad thing is, even after 835835 attempts, and having a pretty big base of knowledge/arsenal of healthy coping skills, I STILL let the monster convince me I am doing a great job at defeating him.

Seriously, I absolutely believed all my efforts were working.

Don’t you remember the other day when I said I was finally feeling whole again? This is true to an extent, but my thought process is still VERY much, way TOO MUCH, in the disordered mindset.

Theoretically I know what to do to fix this problem, but I am very resistant to just “letting go.” And unfortunately, as illustrated by the article I am going to share with you below, a complete relinquishment of control, is the only way to truly heal.

A friend sent this to me a few hours before I published my Wednesday post, in which I disclosed my omission of the complete truth concerning current struggles. I think this friend knows me way too well, or has an eary sixth sense, because it was as if Jenni wrote this just for me.

*Ok I am not that special…I can guarantee pretty much anyone who continues to be wishy-washy in their recovery feels and does the same things I do, but that is beside the point.

I hope you find this as relevant as I do.

by Jenni Schaefer

If you are waiting for recovery to be easy, pull up a chair. You will be waiting for a long time. Ed (aka “eating disorder”) will gladly sit by your side and wait with you. To sabotage your success, Ed will even act like he supports certain aspects of your recovery.

If you like to read, Ed will say, “Just read this book about recovery, and you will be fine.” He will let you read the book, and congratulate you on doing it, but he won’t let you follow any of the guidance inside that will actually help you.

If you enjoy being around people, Ed will say, “Go to that therapy group, and get some help there.” Ed will let you go to the group, and may even let you participate, but he won’t let you talk about what you really need to talk about in order to heal.

If you like to surf the Internet, Ed will say, “Here’s a great website for you. Go ahead and join the online recovery forum.” He will let you join the online forum, and he will convince you that logging on is more important than eating.

Books, groups, and online resources can all be very helpful tools in your recovery. Just remember that recovery takes full commitment and real action. Real action is not simply opening a book, walking into a group room, or logging onto some website.

If you read a book about recovery, fully commit to the ideas in it that will make a difference in your life, not just the things that are easy to do. If you are in group therapy, talk about the issues that, deep inside, you know you need to discuss. If you are active in an online recovery community, use the positive support from online pals to hold yourself accountable to taking real action in your recovery. It’s not enough to just look at the tools—you really do have to use them.

Real action means drastic change. It also means realizing that Ed will sit by your side and try to sabotage you every step of the way. Ed will even use content from recovery books, groups, and websites to try to fuel his cause. Be aware of this and guard against it, and do what the books, groups, and websites suggest that is pro-recovery. Now that’s action.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “Half measures availed us nothing.” If you only do eating disorder recovery half way, at most, you will get a half way recovery from your eating disorder. In my experience, you won’t even get that.

During early recovery, I believed that insight would inspire change. I thought that if I just knew enough about eating disorders, and understood myself, I would get better. I learned as much as I could from all of the resources available to me, and I waited for a magical change. I waited for the urge to binge to just go away. I waited to fall in love with my body. I waited for my fear of food to simply subside. And Ed waited right along with me.

I waited. I waited, and I waited some more. I would still be waiting today if intense pain had not pushed me into taking some real action. In my personal experience, pain and discomfort have most often been the motivating factors to get me to change. (For the record, I don’t think it has to be this way. That is why I write about my experiences. I hope that other people won’t have to reach the same level of pain I did before making changes.)

In my recovery, taking action meant tackling the food directly. I stopped purging after bingeing. I also did my best to not binge, which meant tolerating uncomfortable feelings (to say the very least). I ate without restricting. My body changed accordingly, and I felt awful. I felt so bad that I told my mom many times that I didn’t know if I could keep fighting. I hated the way my body was changing, and I hated how it made me feel inside even more. I felt like a different person entirely — someone I didn’t know or like. I felt trapped.

When we fully commit to recovery, we are signing up for hurt. Full commitment means we no longer make decisions based on how we feel in the short run (turning to Ed for immediate gratification), but instead we make decisions based on our long-term goals of health and a full recovery. In the beginning, success can actually feel fat and miserable. So stop waiting for things to be easy and start looking for the hard part. Tackling the difficult, ironically, is when the “easy” will find you. If you push through the pain and move all the way to the other side, you won’t have to keep facing the same hurt over and over again. You will be well on your way to freedom.

Life is, in fact, much easier on the other side of the eating disorder. I am not afraid of food, I don’t get the urge to binge, and I love my body. Yes, I said “love”! Today success feels strong and joyful, no longer fat and miserable. I can’t wait for you to get to this point, too.

And you can’t afford to wait either! So, stop waiting and start changing.

*For those of you who don’t know, Jenni Schaefer is the author of Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. Both are extremely well received in the recovery community and if you are looking for a resource of hope, you might want to check them out.

I would love to know your thoughts on this piece, just because I found the beginning segments, where she describes her past beliefs, to be a mirror image to my own.

I love how she provides inspiration in closing, and I really really really hope I, and anyone else who is having trouble with this pesky disease, can follow in her footsteps.

What are you going to do to change today?


10 thoughts on “Wise Words From Jenni Schaefer

  1. I always come back to your blog because you’re so real. I too often avoid reading because I know that you identify and bring to the forefront issues that I struggle with as well. It is not okay for me to ignore them though. It’s just not. I, too, worry about what would happen if I just let go. Believe me, I think about it often enough, but somehow I feel as if I could never bounce back. Not that I’d need to, recovery is supposed to be great! As if it could ever be that easy *sigh*. It’s hard getting comments to my blog from people who don’t understand that recovery is a process, and definitely not one that is all on the up and up. It is full of bumps and we learn from those. I’d be a bit worried that I was suppressing something if it was all easy.
    Jenni Schaefer has his knack for writing and touching those who read her work as if she has written it just for them. I’ve read the recovery books, I read the blogs, and I think somehow, that I am the exception, that it won’t work for me, that I couldn’t possibly be happy with myself, because it hasn’t happened yet. To tell you the truth, I think I’m scared of what it might mean for life if I actually began to be committed. It might mean putting school on hold in my last semester, not getting a job, freaking out daily, crying, tearing my family apart, and it might not. But the fact that I don’t know, this fear of the unknown and thus uncontrollable, is something that I cannot cope with. And so I suppose I, too, am waiting. Waiting until I know what things will be like. But I cannot know and at some point, I will have to give in to something and let fly.
    Wishing you luck and sending you fond wishes. You’re doing SOMETHING right by writing these posts CJ. Insightful as ever. xx Hannah

    • Hannah, This was such a sweet comment. I appreciate your kind words about my writing and my blog, and I can COMPLETELY relate to feeling like you are the “exception” in recovery. A lot of times I convince myself recovery isnt even possible for me so why try? Why put in the effort when things will never be better? You would think, hearing from pretty much everyone who is ACTUALLY healthy after this nightmare, telling me how much BETTER it is, I would listen. But I am the same as you…fear…..fear…fear….that is what holds me back; the fear of the unknawn is terrifying. We are in this together hun. If you need anything please let me know. ❤ lots of love and courage sent your way!

  2. CJ,
    thanks for posting this. 10 years after my diagnosis, I’m certainly “Recovered” but those thoughts still come and go. On a morning where I counted the calories of peanut butter I put in my oatmeal, reading something like this is refreshing. It’s a beautiful day and I want to live my life to its fullest and not obsess over tiny stupid little things!
    Hope you’re ok ❤

    • What a beautiful message Amy! I am so glad you are doing well in your recovery, even if you measured out you peanut butter for your oats! My goal is to also live life to the fullest, but as you know sometimes that is very much easier said than done 😦 sending you lots of love!

  3. I actually plan on reading her books this summer. I have more of a problem with binging than anything else but I have heard great things about her books. That is an awesome piece. It’s so true that you have to be FULLY committed to anything in order to get through it, and that means getting through the uncomfortable in order to be fully comfortable.

  4. I really like how honest you are in your recovery journey. I go from thinking I am progressing so much in recovery and then when I go out with friends or family I find myself so concentrated on just wanting to get back home to my comforts and its like no matter what I’m doing food is always on my mind. Or an aspect of recovery is. This is not normal and its hard to figure out how to move from these thoughts. I definitely worry in just “letting go” because I think who will I be without this disorder, and sine I have such black and white thinking, I assume I’m going to just blow up if I give up the disorder fully. It is such a tricky disorder. Its definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through as well. I’ve read jenni schaefer’s books and I love them, she sends out such a great message for those of us who are recovering. I have to stop waiting and reading on recovery and just push my butt to actually do it! Make the changes I know I need to to totally recover! I hope you are doing okay with everything!

    • I hope you are doing ok! we are sometimes our own worst enemies when it comes to persuading ourselves how well we are doing…i definitely overestimate my progress and try to make it seem as if i am doing well when i am not. this is such a journey, girl, but you are not alone. ❤

  5. Pingback: Falling Apart « Healthy, Happy, Whole

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