Anyone that knows me can tell you two things: 1) I am the proud owner of a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix, which, due to its large size, is ironically nicknamed “Little Red” and 2) I’m not a fan of crawling critters (in specific spiders and snakes). This story combines two of those things, minus the snakes thank goodness. One glorious morning I found myself caught in a spider web while trying to get in my car to go to work. After the immediate panic of thinking a spider was on my person and frantic brushing to get the silken strands off my face, I looked around to find the home of the offending creature. What I found was an intricately woven web that extended from my side view mirror, to my driver’s side window and then to the side of the pick-up that had parked next to me. While I had completely busted through the connecting part, the web on my actual car was still intact. Call it a moment of compassion, but I decided to spare this spider’s home the fate that had become its extension wing on the pick-up. Later in the day, a thunderstorm wiped out the web I was too kind to destroy hours before, and that was the end of that.
The next day, after running into the web, panicking and finding the same thing I had found the day before, I decided that the spider was too tenacious to be deterred from its web building. I decided to never destroy its web. It clearly found a home on my car and who am I to destroy it…that was over two months ago. The web has been destroyed too many times to remember, my car has been driving back and forth to Cincinnati at unnecessary high speeds (…because, hey, speeding is ok, right?) and it’s been subjected to the elements. Yet every morning, this spider had a new web knit between my side view mirror and my window. Never once have I seen this spider, but every morning I see evidence of its hard work, determination and unwillingness to relent to the demands my car puts upon it. Despite what I can only assume (and only want to imagine) being a few ounces in weight, this spider has shown me the power of perseverance. Despite the constant destruction of its home, each day, without complaint (I can only imagine, as I don’t claim to be the “spider whisperer”) it does what it needs to do to get by. I’ve been so caught up in my all-or-nothing mindset of recovery that I’ve failed to see what progress I’ve made. Unlike the spider, when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to, I immediately throw up my hands, claim everything is too hard, and go running back to ED behaviors. Whereas this tiny little spider may have uttered a few spider curse words related to its hard work had been ruined, but it kept on; not getting caught up in the negativity or giving up on trying. This spider clearly doesn’t care that its home is destroyed on a near daily basis, and continues to live its little spider life anxiety free. Unlike me, the spider does not bend or yield to the demands of the outside world and merely continues doing what it knows in its heart is the right thing to do. Instead of running to ED behaviors and then continuing them because I thought that one slip-up meant my recovery was ruined forever, I need to find healthy ways of dealing with stress, find new ways to persevere towards my recovery goals and to acknowledge relapses for what they are without dwelling on them or continuing them. Healthy stress relief behaviors are so much more productive and beneficial than ED behaviors…just ask my little spider buddy.