Values and Recovery
Guest speaking is my FAVORITE part of what I get to do in the eating disorder recovery community! I speak at EDCare in Denver, CO often. Every time I share my journey of how my eating disorder started, what the struggles of turning away from the disorder were, the joys, happiness, courage, and strength to maintain recovery, I’m blown away by reflecting on my progress. It’s easy to forget how far I’ve come!
There are times I’m sharing my story and I remember sitting in the same chair of those currently fighting for their lives back or being curious about their identity without the eating disorder…Who will I be without you ED? I lose my breath. There were so many weeks and different times in treatment in that chair I believed my life would always be full of never ending spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical torment. I lose by breath again, but this time breathe deep, in and out. How can it be that my thoughts and the way I live my life are so different from then? How am I ok? I have so much gratitude!
Others ask how I did it? How are you ok? And, it’s not a word, phrase, tip, hint, trick, or advice. It was and is so much more. Last week, the experience caused me to pause and reflect on my values that helped and are the pillars of how I make decisions.
Defining and investigating my values were a big first step in recovery.
My top five values are:
These pictures embody my values!
Once I was able to clearly understand my priorities outside of calories, weighing myself, running, getting rid of food, and restricting, I was able to begin to challenge how Coach (name of my ED), aligned with my values. It took only passive thoughts to know, and I already did know, that Coach did not belong in my values or the identity I wanted for myself. In fact, Coach did not allow me to live from my values in any way, shape, or form. Let me describe to you below:
1. Faith – I was trying to serve two masters: God and Coach. It tortured me because the more I loved one, the more I hated the other (Matt 6:24).
2. Connection – Coach did not allow me to be authentic with other people. Therefore, my relationships were superficial and manipulative.
3. Honesty – I lied ALL the time about working out, what I had or had not eaten, where I was, or what I was doing. Most of the time I couldn’t remember who I told what to which impacted both connection and community. In general, I don’t think people want to hang around with dishonest people.
4. Community – Coach did not allow me to enjoy social events with food. He especially didn’t like it when I went to events without squeezing in a workout. He did not want me to have any sort of accountability for recovery, so he kept my connections far away which meant NO community.
5. Nature – I love the mountains. My heart glows when I think about the beauty they reflect of the Creator. Being malnourished and physically not feeling well, I couldn’t enjoy the mountains. If I did get outside, I was focused more on how many calories I was burning, how many miles, the elevation gain, and how much time. I never looked at the beauty around me. Maybe at the very top but missed the rest-the flowers, trees, smell of the pines, and waterfalls.
I hope as you read this, you think about your own values, even if you don’t have an eating disorder. We can all find it helpful in knowing our values. If you are struggling and can’t get “unstuck” maybe try listing out things that you value and see what you come up with? Is your ED getting in the way of being who you were created to be?