One of my favorite Instagram accounts is @beatingeatingdisorders that posts different quotes about recovery. I would highly suggest following the account if you are in recovery from an eating disorder. Every single quote and/or picture is fantastic, and I often save the pictures to my phone so I can look through them when I am struggling. The other day, I came across a post that struck a chord with me. The message is something that I really need to hear right now.
“I am not defined by my relapses, but my decision to remain in recovery despite them.”
For a long time, I have always looked at my past relapses as a huge part of who I am. In my head, I have made them into a defining factor of my self-worth. I have relapsed a lot during my recovery journey, and I frequently use that as a way to compare myself to others in a negative way. One of the things I struggle with in my recovery is thinking that others are somehow better at recovery than I am. If someone has spent less time in treatment, then they somehow become superior to me. Constantly, the thoughts “I’m such a screw-up for how I always relapse. I’m so weak.” run through my head. My thoughts are typically focused on the negative and I fail to think about or acknowledge any positive things.
Seeing the above quote made me start contemplating things in a different way. There are so many times where I could have simply stopped and given up on recovering. Instead, I have always gone back and tried again, even if 99.9% of me has had no desire in letting go of my eating disorder. My first time at IDC I was told that I would not graduate from their program unless I first returned to TK for a higher level of care. I could have walked away from the program and given the whole program a middle finger. I could have decided that I did not care about having my graduation ceremony. Instead, I decided to go back to residential, and it was a challenging experience in so many ways. Despite that, I still chose to continue moving forward. Because I knew deep down that, I would be able to pick myself up again. In January I was the one who decided that I needed to return to inpatient care. So much of the time I was in the hospital, and after being there, I could only focus on how I had “failed” by having to return to treatment. No one is forcing me to continue working with AAC and BC. I could easily walk out of their offices and never come back. Somedays, that is all that I feel like doing. I feel like there is little point to me being there because of the times I have relapsed. And, I do not do that. I refuse to let my moments of crisis and self-doubt derail me from marching on.
The truth is, I am defined by the fact that I have chosen to pick up my sword over and over again. Losing a battle does not mean that you have lost the whole war. At times, my eating disorder has won, and relapse has occurred. It has happened so many damn times. That does not need to define me or keep me from focusing on the next fight I will be in. Relapses have happened, and that matter so little compared to the perseverance I have displayed in the fact that I have kept moving forward. There are many days where all I can do is just focus on surviving the next second, and there are also days where I make leaps and bounds in recovery.
I am defined by the fight inside of me.
I am defined by the effort I have put into recovering.
I am defined by continuing to let others help me recover.
I am defined by my decision to break free of my eating disorder.
I am defined by my ability to find a sense of humor even in the hard times.
I am defined by never truly stopping.
I am defined by what I choose to be defined by.
I am defined by putting one step in front of the other day after day.