Recovery Resolutions for 2016

Posted by on Dec 31, 2015

recovery resolutions


Recovery Resolutions

I get pretty sentimental around holidays. And since there’s not much else that says “New Year’s Eve” like resolutions and reminiscing on the past year, that’s what this post is about!

The year 2015 has been difficult, but in very different ways than 2014 was. In 2014, everything was new to me — health was new, weight restoration was new, honoring my thoughts and feelings was new, relationships were new, even my voice was new (or, perhaps, renewed). The highs were high and the lows were low, but there was something exhilarating about that. The newness of it all kept me going.

By 2015, the newness of recovery wore off. This year brought a rapid succession of reality checks, and I realized that I’d have to work very hard to keep my eating disorder (and other self-harming behaviors) in check. I slipped up more than once. I returned to treatment, which made me feel like a failure. I left treatment not with the new, exciting insights that I gained from the first two rounds, but rather with the understanding that this stage of recovery meant plodding forward even when the work was arduous.

It wasn’t a bad year, though. I’m moving into 2016 knowing where I need to go next in this process. So, in my last post of the year, I wanted to share some of my recovery resolutions for the New Year.

1. Do yoga therapy

Many people in the eating disorder world say that “body image is the last to go.” For me, that’s an understatement. After two solid years in therapy (three if you include the outpatient therapy I did before entering eating disorder treatment), I’ve processed almost as much as I can rationally and emotionally process. (I say “almost” because of course there is always more on can do.) I’ve arrived at the edge of new territory, which is the body-based work.

I’ve spent the last 13 years (maybe more) working to keep myself numb to my feelings and experiences. I’ve run the gamut of self-harming behaviors. These no longer work for me. In fact, it’s precisely these desperate, last-ditch attempts to avoid feeling the painful realities of recovery that keep me in this middle ground. I know too much to ever go back to that hell, yet there is still something that keeps me from moving forward.

The catch is that I’m at a loss as to what it is I need to accept or understand or do in order to move forward and get out of this middle ground.

That’s what I resolve to change in 2016. I need to think and act creatively and boldly if I’m to finally understand why and how this decade of self-destruction happened. Thinking and processing got me this far, and now I need to unlock the somatic information — that is, the memories, feelings, sensations, etc. that are directly linked to my body. I recently tried yoga therapy, and it’s been extraordinarily helpful. The emphasis is on direct, physical experience rather than logical thinking, which means that I’m able to access new insights that thinking alone couldn’t afford me.

It’s important to note that while this phase unfolds, the hard work of recovery has to continue. I have to keep up with the things I’ve been practicing for the last two years: following a meal plan, exercising only in healthy amounts, avoiding self-harm (in whatever form that takes). If I wait for that “one last piece” to click into place, it’s never going to happen. Recovery involves a lot of thinking and processing, but the majority of it is plain ol’ hard work.

2. Work on body image

On the other hand, the “image” part of the “body image” problem also has yet to be dealt with. My eating disorder has always been more about coping with painful feelings than about ascribing to a certain “thin ideal.” But eating disorders are parasites that grow and evolve over time. The things that now trigger my disordered thinking/behaving are not the same as they were years ago.

So, I do have some body image-related work to do, particularly around the fact that I’ve hinged my self-worth on to the militaristic self-discipline I thought anorexia required. (It turns out that recovery requires so much more of that so-called self-discipline.) I need to reevaluate my ideals of beauty and get comfortable in this weight-restored body.

3. Meditate

I need to start practicing this. Plain and simple.

4. Drink less

One day I will be brave enough to write about the way I’ve abused substances in aid of both my eating disorder and my willful attempts to numb. I’ve only just begun to work on this area, however, and still feel a great deal of shame around it. I’m not ready to write about it yet, but that’s a goal of mine in 2016.

5. Volunteer more (sort of)

I went a little volunteer-crazy in 2014 and 2015 with the eating disorder community. (I just got really excited to find it!) I’m realizing that there are certain things I cannot offer the eating disorder world just yet, simply because my recovery is still fragile.

Instead, I will focus on just one or two things that I can do — specifically, on lobbying and advocacy. I’m going to become more involved in the National Eating Disorders Association’s STAR program (Solutions Through Advocacy and Reform) here in New York City this year, and will of course continue lobbying in Washington with the Eating Disorders Coalition. This is work I can do without compromising my recovery.

6. Resume graduate school work

I had to put school on hold between July and December to go back to treatment — but I’m back for 2016! I’m excited, because I’ve always found fulfillment in intellectual pursuits. The trick, though, is to use it to bolster my health, not damage it. (Which means not going overboard on coursework and perfectionism.)

7. Improve this blog

If I don’t pace myself — especially when I write too often — I burn out quickly. As a result, I end up posting very rarely. So, I’m going to come up with a better schedule for posting in 2016. Stay tuned!

A final note…

Finally, I wish all of you a happy, healthy, fulfilling New Year. I realize that 2015 was very challenging for many of you. But you survived it, and that’s awesome! Please know that I truly value your comments, emails, and loyalty. You are a big part of why I love having this blog.

If we stick together, we can make 2016 a great year.

Much love,
Joanna


189 Days | 16 Hours | 40 Minutes | 25 Seconds


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