“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
I found myself sitting in Starbucks a few days ago with a woman who is walking her own eating disorder recovery journey. I respect all people who walk this journey, as they are courageous enough to fight a difficult fight, but this woman in particular. She had never met me but reached out online and asked to meet up while I was in town. Naturally, because I love sharing my story and learning about others walking a similar road, I agreed and found myself sitting across from her talking about our recovery road. That is when she asked me the question I wasn’t quite sure how to answer, “What was your motivation? I find myself wanting to give in sometimes and resorting to old behaviors.”
What was my motivation to recover?
My immediate answer was, “Vivienne, my daughter.” At least Vivienne and TJ, my husband, were the initial motivators but upon further reflection after leaving Starbucks I began to dig deeper and remember my bigger motivators when I was in the depths of the disease. Sometimes it is hard to recall what I was thinking at that time because my world was spinning so fast and I was working all day, every day to recover. My motivators changed like the tides but I boiled it down to be concise enough to fit on this post. So, to the woman I met in the coffee shop, I hope you see this post and know this is how I would answer your question if you asked me again.
External Motivation: This was the initial motivation that got me into the doors of the treatment center; the motivation that made me reach out to a therapist and dietician in the first place. I’ll admit, when I started working with Amy (therapist) and Anne (dietician) it was for external factors. My doctor said I needed a therapist to help deal with postpartum depression and eating disordered behaviors; in order to appease TJ and my doctor, I found one that worked with eating disorders, too. I knew I wasn’t being the wife and mother I could be and I needed help to figure it out. So, off to therapy I went. When I decided it was time to see a dietician I picked one that worked with eating disorders but I wanted lose weight, not necessarily deal with all the eating disordered behaviors. My external motivators that got me through the doors of both outpatient and IOP were TJ, Vivienne, my desire to lose weight, and my desire to appease people in my life. While those are not the best motivations, they did start me on the path to true recovery.
Internal Motivation: This is where my goals for myself, my family, and the dreams that extended beyond my body came to play. These motivators weren’t present in the first half of my time in IOP but really started to show themselves during the second half. Once my body was starting to replenish the much needed nutrients I began to untangle the web of myself. The eating disorder started when I was so young that I didn’t really get the chance to figure out my true likes, dreams, and personality. Once I started to see beyond the external motivating factors that got me into treatment I began to see the motivating factors within myself; my driving forces to recover. During treatment I realized the primary emotion I ever let myself feel was anger; which, as I learned during an internship with recovering drug addicts, is actually a secondary emotion. Anger always masks another feeling, and in my case anger seemed to mask every other emotion possible. IOP helped me start to experience feelings of true happiness and I wanted more of it. I began to have more positive life experiences and started figuring out my goals and passions; such as my sense of adventure (I am an adrenaline junkie) and love of helping others. Radical body acceptance was introduced and I ran with the idea of accepting my body and myself exactly as I was at any given moment. I started to let myself dream again and one of those dreams was to move to an island in the Caribbean with my little family. This was a dream my husband and I shared when we first got married, but as I drifted back to the eating disorder I slowly let myself forget about the Caribbean until I was near the end of IOP. I wanted so much more than to be sitting in weekly appointments with a therapist and dietician for the rest of my life. I wanted to be free to explore new countries, cultures, and not be afraid to try the ethnic foods of those cultures. I wanted to truly enjoy my life instead of merely existing in it.
Spiritual Motivation: God is the center of my life and marriage. I hold tightly to my Christian values and beliefs, and I believe with all my heart God is the primary factor that got me to this point where I can say I am recoverED. While I do not discount my own hard work and diligence, I looked to Christ for my strength at the times when I was my weakest. My husband and dietician were adamant God was going to use me and this struggle for a greater purpose when I was stronger, and I see now they were right all along. God has granted me with the ability to write well and the vulnerability to be completely honest about my journey; two things that, when combined, create a greater purpose for my struggle. God lit a fire in my life when He led me to this path of recovery–a fire to live a life so full of purpose that now I can live it fully for Him. I get to share this recovery story with anyone who reads this blog, follows BBA on Facebook, or meets me in person and give all glory to God in the process. God gave me a passion for sharing my story with others and some extremely big dreams for my family that could only be carried out when I was in full recovery. I am now in that place and those dreams are being fulfilled.
Musical Motivation: I’ve always been drawn to music and I love singing. My mom told me ever since I was an infant I needed music to go to sleep, so it isn’t a surprise that I created multiple recovery playlists to help motivate me. On the 45 minute drive to IOP, therapy, or appointments with my dietician I would have a recovery playlist blasting loudly through the speakers of my Honda Pilot. Songs from several different musical genres all came together on my lists: Christian hymns, Christian pop songs, country, rap, SOCA, reggae, secular pop…I have a rather eclectic music collection. Some of my favorites are as follows:
You Make Me Brave–Bethel Music and Amanda Cook (Christian)
Diamonds–Hawk Nelson (Christian)
Beautiful, Beautiful–Francesca Battistelli (Christian)
Crushed and Created–Caitlyn Smith (pop/country)
Monster–Skillet (Christian Rock)
Fight Song–Rachel Platten (pop)
Lose Yourself–Eminem (rap)
Part of Me–Katy Perry (pop)
Hearts of Warriors–Casey Montana Rogers (country)
Cleanin’ Out My Closet–Eminem (rap)
Wild Child–Kenny Chesney (country)
Ah Feeling Mehself–Patrice Roberts (SOCA)
Soul of a Sailor–Kenny Chesney (country)
Surrender All–Matt Boswell (Christian, currently playing with post)
If I could re-answer the question about where I got my motivation I would say it was (and is) three-fold with a fourth bonus.
My main motivators were
external, internal, and spiritual
but musical motivation is always a bonus!
External motivation is what got me through the doors and into treatment but internal and spiritual motivation were what kept me there for the long haul.
What motivates you in recovery and in life?
Find your fire, your passion and keep fighting for it!
With Body Love,