Who is “ED” and why doesn’t he want me to choose recovery?
ED is an acronym for eating disorder and became popularized by the book “Life Without ED” by Jenni Schaeffer. I highly recommend this book specifically as it relates to the topic we are addressing in this article. I’m sure that many of you are familiar with pop-psychology terms like “inner critic, self-care, etc.” While understanding these concepts is critically important in recovery, many clients have shared that these terms are so overused that it has become confusing to understand what it means to apply them to recovery from an eating disorder.
Think about the most critical person or people you have encountered throughout your life and the messages they have conveyed to you over the years. Over time, these messages become deeply embedded in our psyche and oulla! The inner critic is created. Most people don’t even realize how or why these intrusive, negative thoughts about ourselves are there and truly believe that these thoughts are absolute truths. It is human nature to take in and believe the messages that we consistently hear which is why there is typically so much resistance to questioning the veracity of these beliefs. One of the key tenets of recovery is a willingness to reexamine these beliefs, where they originate from, and to begin to accept them as distortions that are no longer serving you.
This lays the foundation for beginning to distinguish between the “healthy voice” vs the “unhealthy voice.” The healthy voice is the awareness that you deserve to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. It is a mentality that tells you even on your most challenging days that it is OK to treat yourself with kindness and respect. So why does it often feel easier to completely disregard yourself and continue to mistreat yourself?
An eating disorder cannot survive and thrive without an emotional investment in the belief that you are not worth it. For many of you, when you have experienced emotional pain that feels unbearable it probably feels like ED has been there for you. ED has allowed you to disconnect from uncomfortable feelings, uncomfortable situations, etc. It has been a way of coping for so long that is can seem impossible that you can live without it. Therein lies one of the biggest distortions! Many clients have shared that as their eating disorder progressed, their lives became smaller and smaller. ED doesn’t allow for deeply connected relationships, enjoying hobbies, or pursuing ones dreams. ED is all consuming.
Identifying the unhealthy voice is one of the first and most important steps you will take. Just noticing the negative thoughts and considering the possibility that they are not your truth is a tremendous victory. I encourage you to start to become an observer of your unhealthy voice and the messages it sends you. You will most likely notice themes around not being good enough.
As you begin to bring these messages into your awareness, you have empowered yourself to identify them as something separate from you that no longer serves you. It starts by simply saying to yourself “There goes ED again.” Now what would I like to do with that message? You may not choose to stand up to ED at times but there will be victories when you do and these are the defining moments and events where true recovery begins to happen and you begin to reconnect with yourself and the world around you.