“Recovery often seemed to us like the Polaris: We saw that it existed, and we kept our eyes fixed on its steady light, but no matter how long we trekked through the dark, it seemed to never draw closer.”
It wasn’t the first time this worry had come up. On the verge of tears, Eileen confessed in group therapy this weekend that she was beginning to doubt she would ever recover from her long history of an eating disorder. She had been assured over and over again that recovery takes time, but all she felt was defeated.
Much like the eating disorder, recovery is both a gradual and deeply private journey. What characterizes recovery for one person will not necessarily apply to another. And to further complicate things, the line that divides recovery from the eating disorder is blurry, which makes it difficult, maybe impossible, to tell where one ends and the other begins.
In the uneasy silence of the group session, I thought about the months of treatment I had undergone and the moves back and forth between higher and lower levels of care. Surely I know something about what recovery is. Nevertheless, despite the fact that I consider myself “in recovery” from anorexia, I realized that I couldn’t even begin to elucidate this enigma for Eileen, let alone offer encouragement about how she could approach it herself.
So I tried a different question: How do I feel now compared to a year ago? That one was far easier to answer.
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