Jesse asked me a very thought-provoking question, which I thought was very important to post it publicly and let it be open for discussion. This is what she asked:
“Recovery is a looooooong road with potholes here and there… i.e. relapses. When ED’s voice is annoyingly strong…what keeps you going? When you fall down, how do you pick yourself up instead of sliding backwards?”
- Before I give my own answer, I need to remind all of you that I am in the recovery process of an eating disorder myself, so please do not take my answer as “expert” or “professional” advice. This is just an answer based upon my experiences in the course of my struggles, and I would be very appreciative and interested to hear your own suggestions and experiences on this.
“Recovery is indeed a bitch, ain’t it? It’s not a simple wound that can be treated or a cold that goes away after a few bowls of chicken soup. Just like it took a long process for our minds to become more and more disordered, it’s also a long, slow process for our minds to detangle itself from all the disordered accusations and obsessions that has encroached our every thoughts, speech, and actions. But first of all, what is recovery?
Recovery, I realized, is not just about gaining weight, or eating a bit more/less, or even stopping all binging and purging. Recovery is about getting to the root of the problem, and that is simply our inability to love ourselves and to be satisfied/thankful for what we have now. You can’t truly recover unless you address these two underlying problems which caused the eating disorder in the first place. Unfortunately, being able to love ourselves and be thankful for everything is a lifelong process and a lifetime goal, something with which practically everybody else in the world struggles, whether they have an eating disorder or not. People express their symptoms in different ways. I just happened to express them through my eating.
That said, I found out that what’s more important than achieving the goal of recovery is actually the whole process of recovery. Yes, I have a specific goal in mind, a picture of myself free and happy from my eating disorder as my ultimate source of motivation, but I get my practical, consistent feed of strength and will-power from the daily progress of recovery. What keeps me going is the overwhelming joy and triumph I feel from the little steps I make each day towards the positive direction, no matter how teeny they are. There truly is nothing that tastes sweeter than victory, and I delight in each and every single little victory that I can reap. Why? Because they give me hope. Hope is key in recovery. Without hope there can be no victory.
In a way life is a constant battlefield, and each day is filled with its own challenges and trials, so I just try to focus on one day a a time, for each day has enough worries of its own.
But! You have first got to accept the fact that there will be times of failures. I’m not perfect. Hell, if I were, I wouldn’t be human in the first place, I would be up there playing ping-pong with God. As I said, recovery is learning to love yourself, so beating yourself up for a moment of weakness is just going to spiral you in the opposite direction of recovery. In fact, that’s the worst thing you can ever do. ED loves to prey on your guilt to accuse you, dishearten you, and ultimately convince you that the fight is fruitless and useless. I know, because I’ve relapsed before. I let my own guilt tear away all my remaining hope, and told myself, Why bother? Why get all tired and weary over a fruitless fight? Might as well surrender and just accept that I will have ED in my life no matter what, and live as comfortably as I can in my little ED bubble until I die. Needless to say, I fell even deeper into my eating disordered world and ended up in a worse state than before.
So when you find yourself giving up to temptation and having a slip-up, just tell yourself: “It’s okay. I fell once, but what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. Tomorrow is a fresh new day. I still have many more days full of opportunities to be successful ahead. No point in wasting all my time and energy crying over split milk when there are greater and better challenges ahead.”
Last but not least, my ultimate source of encouragement and comfort is God. I cannot imagine leading my life without Him. He is a firm, unwavering pillar in my life, for no matter how much my circumstances and situations may change, I know for certain that His unconditional love and glorious plans for me will never change. I do not intend to try to evangelize here, but I’m just stating my honest opinion and experiences, and I highly recommend getting in touch with your spiritual side. We humans are not just made of temporary, aging flesh, but also of everlasting spirits.
I wish you all the best on your fight, Jesse, that you will never lack in hope, spirit, motivation, and strength and that you will come out all the more stronger and wiser from this whole process.”
So that’s my personal take on recovery. Thank you, Jesse, for asking this wonderful question. It has been awfully helpful in making me think and reflect more on the elements, essentials, and insights of not just recovery but life in general. I like this question so much I think I may post this several times so I can receive more feedback from all of you out there. So please, share your own opinions, experiences, suggestions, or advices in the comment page. Leave it anonymously or just e-mail me if you want to, but I think an open sharing on this will be beneficial to many, and not just to the ones with an eating disorder. Everyone struggles with these issues.
And also, if you don’t mind, please mention this topic in your blog so that we can get more participants in this discussion.
Phew! That’s enough philosophy and analyzing for today. On to the more casual stuff…FOOD!
Remember my Green Pilaf? Well, I might have bought a bit too much cilantro for my cilantro “pesto” and I knew I had to use them up before they withered away in the fridge. So I decided to experiment making green sauces again.
I was in the mood for a sandwich, so I wanted something that would spread well on toast and be versatile enough to complement different fillings. And of course being too lazy to look up for a recipe, I just threw a whole bunch of random stuff together to make (so the measurements are just an estimate)…
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
- 1/4 small green bell pepper
- a few pieces of pineapple
- a small wedge of mango
- lime juice from 1 small lime
- 1 tsp each sweetener, salt
- pinch of garam marsala
I just dumped all the ingredients into my Magic Bullet and blended away until smooth. This made a pretty big quantity, and I stored some away into an empty jam jar:
Look at that lovely GREEN! How can you not love something so deliciously green?
I spread a heaping amount of this cilantro-coconut spread onto two pieces of whole wheat bread. I topped one piece with roasted winter squash, and the other with black beans and raw red onions:
What a combination! This was another great yin-yang combo, what with the fresh, sharp tropical jolt from the cilantro-coconut combo, mixed with the warm, autumn flavor of the squash and beans.
To tell the truth, I got a bit uptight about the high amount of carbs in ratio to protein in this sandwich, but then I figured that I need all the energy I can get from carbs to get my brain pumping for more creative ideas in the kitchen.
So it all works out good…
And super delicious.
Lunch today, however, was not meant to be innovative at all. I just simply wanted to get rid of all the little scraps in the fridge. I had random bits and bites of black beans, squash, bell pepper, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and pineapple leftover, all taking up tons of space in the fridge. Also, I could tell that they were all close to expiry, and I hate to throw food away. So I decided to slap them all together into a single dish, and came up with this idea:
Trop-Mex Shepherd’s Pie
I just basically did the same Trop-Mex filling for the souffle-omelet I made here, but tripled the quantity, and added mushrooms and chicken sausages to the mix, while omitting the mango and cilantro.
Since I’ve already posted the recipe for this, I’ll just quickly list out all the ingredients that went into this: onions, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, tomato, tomato sauce, black beans, roasted squash, chicken sausages, pineapple, cumin, lime juice, salt, pepper.
Whew! What a truckload of flavors! But to jazz it up even more, I started messing with the traditional mashed potato that crowns every shepherd’s pie:
Green Mashed Potatoes
First I boiled and mashed 4 huge potatoes, then added:
- 2 tablespoons yogurt
- 3 tablespoons almond milk
- spoonful of my cilantro-coconut spread
- chopped green onion
- salt & pepper
I then dumped the Trop-Mex filling into a baking dish, spooned the green mashed potatoes on top, and then scattered 1/2 cup cheddar cheese on top:
In the oven it went…
And out it came looking and smelling heavenly!
I could barely wait to spoon out a big hunk for myself:
WHAT A FIESTA of flavors! The ingredient list was quite long, but none of the ingredients were extraneous. I thought every single one of them played a crucial part in this dish.
I just get a kick out of adding pineapples to everything. They add such a juicy, zesty bite!
I also really liked how the cumin added just the right touch of smokiness to the dish.
Don’t you just love the green hue of the potatoes? I wish it could have been greener, but I didn’t want to overdo with the cilantro-coconut flavor. I still wanted my potatoes to taste like potatoes!
Not only was this a freaking delicious lunch, it also cleared out all the leftovers I mentioned above! Hooray for a clean fridge! Now I get to go and fill it up again with fresher stuff.
Oh, and another great news:
Wow. This is yet another freaking long post. Mainly because of my long response to Jesse’s question. But totally worth it, in my opinion.
No question of the day for today, except another pleading reminder for your comments, experiences, advice, and suggestions in regards to today’s Q&A!!!