To the Mom Dealing With an Eating Disorder: It's Okay To Feel Stuck
“The obstacle is not in your way, the obstacle is the way.”
The turning of the calendar into a new year brings unspoken pressures as a clean slate looms. So much hope and possibility for change, for creating something different. But when you have struggled with an eating disorder, the unknown future can be daunting. Will this be the year where you can finally put all the eating disorder struggles behind you? Will you find a way out of the battles you’ve faced with food and your body?
While others are making resolutions for losing weight or making more money, you might be grasping with your reality. Maybe you aren’t where you want to be. Maybe you feel frustrated that another year has passed, and with it, countless of moments and memories lost; yet you remain stuck in the vicious cycle of an eating disorder. Maybe you’re exhausted and feeling hopeless that things will ever change.
I understand, mama, because I used to be there, too.
Eating disorders are a stronghold that can persist for years at a time, often morphing into a different shape with the underlying issues remaining the same. You may have tried many different things to bring down the walls, only to feel like you’re back at square one - maybe even a few steps back from where you started. You may have felt like you were making progress in your eating disorder recovery for awhile until something changed your life, like pregnancy, a new baby, the postpartum phase, or the stressors that come with motherhood. You may feel stuck and all alone.
But here’s the thing, mama. You are not alone in this, and you are not hopeless.
You may recognize where you’d like to be or how you would change, if you could. The gap between where you are and where you long to be can feel like a chasm that is impossible to cross. No matter what you’ve tried, things never seem to change.
You know what? It’s okay to feel stuck.
It’s okay (and normal) to feel like you haven’t made any progress recovering from an eating disorder. It’s okay to take two steps forward and five steps back. It’s okay to not have it all figured out or to know exactly how to find your way through. It’s okay, mama.
What’s not okay is to give up.
Feeling stuck and giving up - these are two different things. The feeling of being stuck is not parallel to your progress on your journey. Nor does it reflect what you are capable of or the possibility for freedom from your eating disorder.
Feeling stuck is a normal part of the process, it’s a natural resistance to shifting and change. So when that feeling hits you hard and pushes against you as you march forward, don’t let it knock you down or cause you to give up. Lean into it fearlessly. Understand why it’s there and recognize that you’re stronger than feeling stuck. You aren’t limited to what you feel today or tomorrow.
Take a step back so you can see the forest clearly through the trees. Celebrate the little things along the way, because it’s the little things that help you scale the mountain peaks - no matter how high or far away they might seem.
Stay the course. Don’t lose your way by looking to the right or the left. Just because you’re not where someone else is doesn’t mean you’re not exactly where you need to be.
Commit to fighting the good fight, day after day, even when your feelings don’t lend you support. Even when you’re weary and tired, don’t give up. Keep one foot in front of the other. Remember who and what you are fighting for, and ask yourself: “What is the next right thing I can be doing for myself, for my recovery today?”
Be it big or small, monumental or repeated action - it is forward MOTION that keeps you going. Keeping you from getting stuck. Day by day, the clouds will lift. You will breathe again and discover what it means to be free. Until then, don’t give up hope, mama. You deserve freedom. Your kids deserve a mom who is free. You won’t always feel stuck in this place. In the meantime, protect your recovery. Fiercely protect it, for yourself and those you are mothering.
You’ve got this.