Whoever said that courage is a little voice that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’ is wrong.
Procrastination is a little voice that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.
An eating disorder is a sneaky little voice that tells you to ‘try again tomorrow’ because today isn’t the right time.
It is easy, I can tell you from personal experience, to plan miraculous recoveries; to tell yourself that this is the one and that you’re going to make the change this time. But to do that, you’ve got to start today: right now.
At no point am I saying that this is easy: there are things that I’ve been telling myself I’ll start tomorrow for years. I’ve been promising myself proper fish and chips on a Wednesday since January. Have I done it?
Why? Because I always tell myself that I’ll do it next week, or that today isn’t the right time, for a variety of fairly stupid reasons. It’s hard – really hard – to make changes, especially when nobody is telling you that you have to, but those changes are the ones that matter the most. Change that you make for you is change that will last, and change that will last is a building block in recovery.
Spontaneous, self-motivated recovery is a very courageous process. It requires you to judge each situation on its own merits, and to accept that nothing is going to be easy. It requires you to go against the voice in your head time and time again, and to accept that there is going to be a long period of time in which things that are supposed to be pleasurable will feel like using a foot file on your front teeth.
I’d also argue that there is no such thing as planning a miraculous recovery. There is no miracle about fighting through treacle for months and months, wondering whether the choice you’ve made is the right one, and there is definitely nothing miraculous about fighting against your own instincts. Recovery is not supposed to feel miraculous because it is a long, slow process, and that’s OK.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean that the whole time you are recovering is going to be filled with drudgery and foot filing your teeth. After the initial, weight gain period recovery is – and I’d argue should be – part of life: outside of recovery you can also be volunteering; being with friends; dating; working or getting dangerously addicted to Pepper Panic Saga. Learning to assimilate recovery into your life and your life into recovery is so very important.
What courage is is a acting over and over on a decision that you do not always believe in. It is deciding that you deserve a better life, and sticking to it, even when you really, really hate yourself and your slightly flabby stomach (which isn’t flabby to anybody else but you, let me promise you that). Courage is knowing that anorexia is an illness, and believing that it can be beaten. Sometimes courage is asking for help.
I have never met anybody who hasn’t been courageous.
Courage is first person, present tense.
Courage is now.
Courage is you.