NEDA walk in Denver
Hello, Dr. Anita Johnson here. I am at the NEDA walk in Denver, which is an amazing event for people who are struggling, and family and friends, to come and celebrate, share recovery stories, encourage each other, and support each other. Thank you for joining me here at the NEDA walk in Denver.
I first want to express what an honor it is to be here. NEDA is an amazing organization. You are amazing people because by showing up here today, you are NEDA. I’m honored because I get to do what I like to do more than anything else in the world, which is talk to people and tell them, “People get better. Recovery is possible.” I’ve been in the field a long time. I know of thousands, truly thousands who have done so. I get emails and letters from around the world. I meet former clients of mine all the time. It is absolutely totally possible to recover.
What I want to share with you is just a little metaphor I shared a long time ago with a client of mine who was EDA What was involved and how could she possibly do it? It calls for a little bit of an imagination, because recovery begins with imagining recovery in the first place.
I want you to imagine. Imagine that you are on the banks of a raging river. It is pouring down rain. You slip and fall in. And you’re drowning. You’re getting pulled down through the rapids. Along comes a big log and you grab on. The log saves your life. It keeps your head above water when surely you would have drowned. Eventually, it carries you to a place in the river where the water is calm and you can see the shoreline from there, but you cannot get there (and this is the tricky part) because of the log! So, you’re trying to swim and hold onto the log at the same time.
The eating disorder is the log. Make no mistake about it. It has served a function, a very important function, and it would behoove you to find out what that function is. The problem is that it gets quite complicated — because there is always somebody on the river bank going, “Let go of the log! Let go of the log!” You may feel like an absolute idiot because you cannot let go of the log. The way I see it, letting go of the log may not be the best thing to do initially. Because, what happens if you say, “OK” and you let go of the log, start to swim to shore, get halfway there, and realize, “Oh shoot. I don’t have the strength to make it.” That means you don’t have the strength and confidence to make it back to the log either. And you’re really sunk. So, what do you do instead?
Let go of the log and try floating! As soon as you start to sink, grab back on. Then, you let go of the log and you tread water. When you get tired, you grab back on. Then, you let go of the log, and you swim around it once, grab back on. Twice, grab back on. Ten times, grab back on. Twenty times, one hundred times. Whatever it takes for you to have the strength and confidence to make it to shore, and then you let go of the log.
The recovery process isn’t something where you just wake up one morning, and Ta Da! You’re recovered. Rather, it’s a process of learning a certain skill set that is required especially if you happen to be one of those thin skinned people that are living in a thick skinned culture. There are certain skills that a person needs to be able to maneuver safely, confidently, and joyfully. Developing those skills is what the recovery process entails.
The good news is: Long after the eating disorder is gone, you’ll have an amazing skill set that is going to get you through life, no matter what life sends your way. And Life will send all kinds of stuff your way, but you’ll have the skills to deal with it.
What are those skills? Thank goodness there’s not 1,001! There’s a small handful.
For each of us, we’ve got our “regular issues” that keep coming up. They require things like media literacy – you have to understand the cultural soup we’re living in.
Emotional literacy – you’ll have to be able to identify your feelings. Proprioceptive awareness – learning how to listen to your body, and knowing when to eat, when to stop eating, when to move, when to rest. ‘
Then, the big skill (I’ve never seen anyone ever recover without this skill, and I’ve seen lots of people recover) is Assertive Communication – the capacity to take your feelings, put them into words, express them in the kindest, clearest way possible.
These skills are like learning how to swim, drive a car, or ride a bike. You can learn them. You can learn to do this — with practice. For those of you who are struggling, for those of you with family members and friends that are struggling, know that. There are skills. And learning any skill takes practice; it will be a little clumsy in the beginning, but you can do it. Recovery is absolutely possible.
Thank you. Thank you for sharing this day with me and for showing up for yourself and for those you care about. From the Light of the Moon Café at the NEDA walk in Denver, Colorado. Thank you for joining me.
I would love to hear what you think, share a comment below!
Until next time. Thank you for joining me at the Light of the Moon Cafe.