Last week a friend showed me some pictures from his vacation to San Diego. The above picture immediately grabbed my attention. I loved it because the way the light shines through the trees reminded me how important it is to see the forest for the trees. Sometimes, especially during recovery, I get so wrapped up in the details that I miss the big picture. I miss the forest. For me, the forest is Recovered. So I made a mental note to print off the picture and keep it on my desk as a reminder. Then Harrison started screaming because Wyatt looked at him funny and I forgot all about the picture and over the next three days I proceeded to completely lose my mind in all the damn trees.

It began soon after I hit “Publish” on The Dialogue. I thought I could get the final two writing assignments for Key 2 written and posted on the blog by Wednesday. One was about positive self statements and the other a goodbye letter to my eating disorder self. I have a ton of positive self statements at the ready and I felt pretty good about saying goodbye to ED Ali, so I started writing. But nothing happened. No matter what I wrote, nothing felt right.  I’d write and write then delete and delete.

I was also in a horrible mood. I felt off. Uncomfortable, unfocused, untethered. ANXIOUS. I had no patience with boys, I was short with Steve, I couldn’t get the laundry done, I couldn’t keep the house clean, I couldn’t make a decision on our Christmas cards, I couldn’t decide who to invite to Wyatt’s birthday party (I am marginally embarrassed to admit how stressed I got over a 5 year old’s birthday party), I didn’t have time to read, I didn’t have enough time to write. It felt like I was doing a lot but accomplishing nothing.

As the days passed my anxiety meter kept rising and my go-to anxiety diffusers were not working. I knew I needed uninterrupted time to process what I was feeling but I never seemed to get enough time. By Thursday, something had to give because I was seriously about to lose my mind. After three full days at DEFCON 1, I needed a release.

Then I got one. The picture. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten about it (I never printed it off). There it was on my phone. The light, the branches, the leaves, the colors, the forest…. As I focused on the beauty of the forest, I realized that I had gotten so swept up in the minutia of all the anxiety that I had missed the big picture. And once I stopped to take a look at my big picture, I noticed something was missing.

At no time during those three days at DEFCON 1 did I ever think eating disorder thoughts or use ED behaviors to relieve my anxiety. In addition, rather than berate myself for not being good enough to handle the anxiety, I was upset because I wasn’t getting the time I knew I needed to process my feelings.

It hit me. She was gone. For the first time in over thirty years, ED Ali was gone. I wrote our goodbye in The Dialogue but it never dawned on me that she might actually leave. But she did. Unfortunately, I was too distracted by the aftershocks of her absence to even notice. I wish I could say that when I finally realized she was gone it felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders and suddenly everything was sunshine and rainbows. But it didn’t and it wasn’t. ED Ali had been an anchor so when she left I felt untethered and uncertain.

However, now that I had the big picture in focus, I knew adjusting to her departure was a necessary step to get me closer to Recovered. So I started talking about it. To my Dad, who was supportive and encouraged me to keep writing. To my Mom, who wisely recommended that instead of focusing on the goodbye letter, I focus on writing about what happened when I realized that ED Ali was gone. To Steve, who took the boys for the whole weekend so I had the time and space I needed to process my feelings. To Jamie, who made me feel needed and appreciated. To Liz, who listened and helped me see how far I’ve come. And to Abbie, who listened and shared and helped me discover new things about myself. I also shared more of my story with friends and that felt wonderful. After sharing and showing up with all those wonderful people, I started writing and was able to find my voice again. And to me, that feels like sunshine and rainbows.

Recovery is a work in progress and I just took a big step forward. I am trying to be as honest and transparent as I can and it’s hard because I am still actively working through it. Recovery is messy and it hurts but as long as I focus on working towards Recovered, I know I will get there.

I should also probably print off a copy of that picture….







1 Comment

  1. Your “voice” has returned, and it’s all you. Your openness and honesty are very courageous. Good on you.

  2. Pingback: I Forgave, but I Will Not Forget – Road to Recovered

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