There are many barriers to eating disorder recovery, but there are three that particularly wreak havoc. Recovery of any addiction requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves, take responsibility, and hold ourselves accountable. These are all things that an addict of any kind despises (How to Fight Barriers and Get to Your Safe Place). But once we can face the three barriers to eating disorder recovery that stand in our way, the road opens under our feet.
Recovery from any substance or behavioral addiction is about facing the emotions that we’ve tried to purge, starve, drink, or drug away. Food is the tool that the eating disordered person has decided upon to be our numbing agent. When we’re in the pattern it’s hard to see outside of it, sort of like trying to find your facial features in a mirror glazed over with hot shower steam. The vision is blurry.
You Can Clear the Huge Barriers to Eating Disorder Recovery
There are three main things that act as huge barriers to eating disorder recovery, like walking along a path and finding a 1000-ton tree barricading the way. It is possible to clear this tree, but first, we must inspect it in the pathway. Here are three things that make up this 1000-ton tree.
Eating Disorder Recovery Barrier #1: Lies
All addicts, including eating disordered persons, are good at lying to themselves. We tell ourselves that our disordered eating patterns are not that bad. We make excuses as to why we don’t really have a problem. We’re also good at lying to others. In fact, we become pros at lying and manipulating the truth in order to serve us.
When I was in inpatient, one of the therapists in our group told us, “If you can’t be honest with yourself, you won’t recover.”
It’s true because we must be brutally honest with compassion. We must realize that no matter what was done to us, it’s now our choice to address it and fix it in order to have the life that we want. We must hold ourselves accountable. It’s when we are honest with ourselves, with all the darkness and all our light that we are able to love ourselves and heal.
Eating Disorder Recovery Barrier #2: Secrets
Secrets fester in silence and silence is a secret’s best friend. The more we keep any addictive pattern in the shadows the stronger it grows, the more it whispers in our ears, and the louder it screams and claws at us. It’s like the little pill-like toys you’d get when you were little and when you added water, it would grow to a hand-sized dinosaur. An eating disorder is like that pill and keeping it secret is like adding drops of water until it grows so large it may kill you.
Share your secret with someone safe. I always recommend therapy with a licensed professional therapist who specializes in eating disorders.
Eating Disorder Recovery Barrier #3: Resentment
Resentment comes from the two words – “re” for “past” and “sentire,” whose Latin origin means “to feel.” If we think about going back and feeling negative emotions it can feel like a small war. We are no longer currently experiencing that memory because it is in the past, yet we keep pulling it into our present and future. With this in mind, resentment could be thought of as a past feeling or a past fighting. It’s when we continue to live in, feel, remember, and fight something that occurred in the past. We essentially keep it alive by fighting it in our minds.
Some of us have had some horrible things done to us or have been in situations that were unhealthy, which were not our fault. It’s important not to live in this state because it’s like playing the same song on a tape player over and over, playing it and rewinding it and playing it again. If we keep listening to the same tape of our past, it will not allow us to create a different future.
If you have resentment, I recommend cognitive therapy with a licensed professional therapist who specializes in eating disorders. I also recommend somatic therapy, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy to help stored trauma.
If these three main barriers to eating disorder recovery can be faced head on, the path to recovery becomes much easier to walk. Tell the truth, share your secrets, and free yourself from replaying the past.
Keep moving forward towards your eating disorder recovery.