Thoughts on Recovery

Recovery doesn’t mean it stops being hard. Recovery is doing it anyway.

Read that again.

Now, maybe you’re thinking, Oh, this doesn’t apply to me. I’m not currently in recovery for anything. OR There’s nothing I need to recover from. But, I challenge you to read on, because—even if that’s true—I think you’ll find some application for your life.

Definition of Recovery

First, let’s define recovery.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition is: the process of combating a disorder (such as alcoholism) or a real or perceived problem.

I want to sit with this definition for a minute.

In my own life, that first part immediately hits home—”the process of combating a disorder.” After fighting and defeating a brutal eating disorder, this word—recovery—is forever part of my story. And, it’s why I believe this topic is so important to discuss.

Still, I recognize that recovery applies to far more than eating disorders. So many suffer from alcoholism (hence the definition’s example), drug addiction, other addictions, mental illness, physical illness, and the list goes on of struggles that warrant a need to recover. Struggles that fit the “real or perceived problem” part of Merriam-Webster’s definition.

If you struggle with a real or perceived problem, read on.

Definition of Recover

Wait. Didn’t we just cover this? No. Not exactly. Looking at the definition of the root word sometimes gives more insight. So, let’s look at the word recover.

Below are just a few of Merriam-Webster’s definitions. You can read the full list here.

  • to get back; regain
  • to bring back to a normal position or condition
  • to make up for
  • to find or identify again
  • to save from loss and restore to usefulness

I don’t know about you, but I am kind of awed by this list. Not only does it clarify what constitutes a need to recover, it also gives more insight into the process of recovering. Let’s break these down.

Who needs recovery?

According to Merriam-Webster, you might need recovery if you are struggling “to get back” or “regain” something you lost, or hoping to “make up for” a loss.

While a disorder or addiction fits the description, so do a LOT of other life situations. The point is, recovery is needed when your life is not running optimally.

Maybe you’ve experienced a significant loss—physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially—and you’re desperate to regain the life you had before that loss. Maybe you’ve made some choices that led to a life you don’t recognize. You’ve lost yourself in the process and are desperate to regain your identity. Going back to the definition, if you assume “normal” is an objective ideal, any situation that creates a lack of that normalcy can lead to a need for recovery.

Willingness to Recover

The first step is choosing recovery

In my experience, the first step to recovery is wanting it. You have to choose it. And even then—even after you choose it—you have to keep choosing it, over and over again, because recovery rarely happens overnight. The hard truth is, the process of recovering doesn’t get easier because you choose it.

Read that again.

The process of recovering doesn’t get easier because you choose it.

I remember naively thinking—years before my recovery—that once I made a conscious choice and effort to recover from bulimia, it would be easy. At that time, I thought the only hard part was actually wanting to change. How wrong I was! Choosing recovery was the first hard step. Recovery itself was another level of hard.

I don’t say this to discourage. Quite the opposite! I say this because starting with the expectation that recovery should be easy once you want it will likely set you up for failure, or relapse, or whatever you want to call it. I don’t want that for you. I want you to learn from my mistakes. Even if you aren’t facing an eating disorder, whatever your “real or perceived problem” is, I want you to succeed at recovery!

It starts with preparing your mind. Your willingness will be tested, and here’s one way to be ready…

What is your why in recovery?

This is an important question. You can choose recovery all day, everyday, but if you don’t know why you want to recover, it could eventually impact your motivation.

Remember the last two bullets of the recover definition?

  • to find or identify again
  • to save from loss and restore to usefulness

My why behind recovering from bulimia was wanting to (1) find myself again, and (2) stop wasting my life away. There was a point during my eating disorder when bingeing and purging was all I could envision for my future. That shook me. Hard. I knew, in that moment, I had lost myself completely—who I was, my preferences, my goals for life, everything. I knew I was living on autopilot, squandering my time, money, and gifts God gave me. While I can’t say I immediately started recovering after that revelation, it was, no doubt, the catalyst that led me to choose recovery.

Find your why and it will make a difference in your willingness and motivation to recover. I promise.

Recovery Recap

Let’s go back to the beginning: Recovery doesn’t mean it stops being hard. Recovery is doing it anyway.

Regardless of what you may need to recover from, this is true.

Maybe it’s a disorder or addiction. Maybe it’s not. It could be something you know needs to change in your life. Something just between you and God. If you’re not sure, I urge you to simply ask God.

In Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV), David prays, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If you pray it, don’t be surprised if God points out some areas of your life that seem almost normal. Things that, well, everybody seems to struggle with. I’ve certainly found that in my own life. For example, I recently realized that I complain too much, and I’m working to recover from that.

Is it easier to stop complaining because I decided I want to stop? No. Not really. What’s changed is my mindset. Because I’m more determined and intentional, I’m more quick to notice when I do complain. And, because I notice, I’m now focusing on praying about the situation—whatever it is that’s causing me to complain. It’s hard, but I’m choosing to do it anyway.

What’s my why? Two things. Staying positive and drawing closer to God.

And, while I’m not recovered from complaining, I can tell I’m making progress.

Please note: I’m not a professional when it comes to recovery. I only speak from personal experience. Depending on your recovery needs, I encourage you to seek out a licensed or certified individual who can help. My primary hope with this blog is that it will encourage you to seek recovery if you need it in your life—with a few tips and insights from someone who’s been there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s