"How do I begin recovery from an eating disorder?" That question haunts women's hearts and minds. Letters, e-mails, tweets, blogs, discussion groups and forums are filled with bewildered voices in pain struggling to know how to end their eating disorder way of living.
If you are asking this question you know the answer isdifficult to find because of your own self criticism and impossibly high demands you make of yourself. You may condemn yourself for needing help. You may feel that you are a failure because you can't "figure out" what to do to help yourself. You may feel weak and incompetent because you can't simply "stop" your eating disorder behaviors.
You may feel that you have no direction. You may be certain that you see no signs that point to where you need to be going and what you need to be doing. You come up with a blank feeling at the best of times and and hopeless depair at the worst.
An answer does exist. It's the same answer for all of us yet different for each of us. The answer is, you begin where you are. That's why you don't see arrows. Beginning your healing isn't about going somewhere. It's about being here, right where you are.
So, where are you? The major task you face is to look down and see your feet and where you are standing.
Look carefully at where you are. And when you thoroughly accept where you are, then you take a step toward what is good for you. You move one foot forward.
This is a metaphor, but it's a real metaphor. Where are you? Are you standing on a scale? Are you alone in an apartment? Are you in a home with husband and children? Are you in school? Are you living in a friend's house or with your parents? Do you have a job? Do you like it? Are you in any kind of danger? Are you being hurt, stalked, frightened, threatened? Is someone abusing you?
Are you sacrificing your dreams and goals for yourself because you are trying to please someone else or because you feel guilty or foolish for having those dreams? Do your heartfelt dreams seem impossible to reach or impossible to even try for? Do you feel it's too late to go after your dreams?
And what do dreams or abuse or where you live have to do with your eating disorder?
If you think about what triggers your eating disorder behavior and are precise and honest about documenting your triggers, you will discover that you act out to stop unbearable pain. To ignore what you genuinely care about is terribly painful.
The first step you take from where you are right now that is in your own best interests is your step toward eating disorder recovery. You may not address eating behavior for quite a while. But your beginning is to look at where you are in your life and take a small action to improve the quality of your life.
That might mean saying "no" to someone. It might mean locking a door. It might mean going on job interviews or taking a class in something you like but have been neglecting. It might mean dividing up chores differently. It might mean making moves to live in a safer environment. It might mean writing a journal or going to church. It might mean taking a shower and going for a walk.
If you look carefully and honestly at where you are you will recognize what your first step needs to be. After you take that step you will be in a new here and now. And again, from where you are you take your next step.
What's a step you can take now to start improving the quality of your life?