We, as a culture of 21st century world citizens, thrive on instant gratification. Whether it is immediately snatching the camera out of friends hand after they take your photo to see how it turned out or obsessively checking the shipping status of a shirt you ordered at midnight the night before (guilty) or zipping through a drive thru because you want dinner now but do not want to wait for anything to cook. This same idea of instant gratification, I feel, can be applied to eating disorder recovery.
All too often I get wrapped up in the thought that I should be further along in my recovery than I am or that I want to eliminate thoughts/behaviors associated with ED without putting in the necessary time or effort to get there. I feel like I should be seeing tangible/visual results of my recovery now; on a time frame I want, not the time frame of God, ED or my even therapist. It is usually when I expect instant gratification in my recovery, that frustration and anger set in; two emotions that ED likes to use to entice me into relapse. There is no perfect, linear timeline for recovery and your recovery will never be at the same pace at anyone else’s. But, the most amazing thing is that that is what is so great about recovery. Each of us will have our own unique time frame and learning experiences during recovery as a means to learn different lessons, assist others or find exactly what we need out of our recovery. Our human nature of instant gratification has to take a back seat to our journey to recovery.
Case in point (ok, metaphorically, but it still serves to provide a message, I hope), I currently have a few strawberry plants in my back yard. I pretty much have an opposite of a green thumb, which is peculiar given that I worked with a gardening program for the past two years. Anyway, a farmer friend of mine gifted me these strawberry plants last summer, and said to plant them last fall so that I will have fruit this summer. I went home, dug a small hole next to my porch, and pretty much forgot about the plants until last month when they started blossoming. When my farmer friend had his annual strawberry festival at his farm this year, I was disappointed that he had so many acres of ripe strawberries and I, from the same plant stock as him, only had a few white blossoms. However, as with recovery, my plants had their own time frame in mind. For the past few days, I have been finding one or two ripe berries to pick in the morning. I go outside in my pjs; something I would never have done before I started recovery. I sit on the edge of my porch in the early morning cool, pick a strawberry off the plant, and enjoy it in the peaceful quiet of the morning. It is my moment of calm before beginning my day; a moment where ED, my schedule, my job, nothing is important other than being present in the moment. That is when I remember, my strawberries were not ready at the same time as my farmer friend’s. But, you know what, that just was not the way things were supposed to go. Likewise, my recovery may not be as fast or as slow as the person next to me, but, that is ok. There is no race to the finish line of recovery. There is no prize for having the perfect recovery; mainly because there is no such thing as a perfect recovery. There are no clear set, detailed instructions on how to achieve recovery; if there were, I would put it in book form and give it to you. Recovery is about finding YOURSELF apart from ED. And, as there is no one else like you, your recovery will not be exactly like anyone else’s recovery, and it will take time. It took time for your eating disorder to develop; it makes sense that it will take time to recover your life from it. Embrace your uniqueness. You are worthy of recovery…just do not expect instant gratification and have grace with yourself.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 11-12
1: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens
11-12: He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.