My therapist. God, I don’t know what I’d do without her. Yesterday she told me about a conference she’d recently gone to. She told me the story that the speaker had told. It hit me hard. I agreed with it so much and it made so much sense applying it to my own recovery. I’m definitely not going to explain it as well as she did, but I’m going to try. Here is the story…
The girl was swimming in a large lake. It was deep and dark and very choppy. Suddenly she saw a log. Exhausted, she grabbed hold. Everybody on shore was telling her to let go. Their yelling made her want to hold on more. She finally worked up the courage and strength to start swimming laps around the log, so that she could be strong enough to swim to shore someday. For one week, she’d swim one lap a day, the next week, she’d swim two. The people didn’t understand why she couldn’t just swim away immediately. When she finally swam to shore, some of the people had gone but most remained. They asked her, why didn’t you swim to shore sooner? Didn’t you know the log was hurting you? She said, yes, I knew, but I just needed it for a little while to gain my strength. The log sucked strength from me but gave me safety. Eventually it gave me what I needed: a new burst of bravery and energy that I can carry with me for the rest of my life. The people still didn’t understand, but the girl knew that she was ready to move on with her life. She understood and she had made it and that was all that mattered.
For me, the lake was change. The log was my eating disorder. The people on the shore are my family members and some of the people that have worked with me professionally. The swim was the recovery process. The shore was full recovery and acceptance of changes.
You see, friends? This is just one big metaphor. You simply cannot start recovery and immediately swim to the shore. You’ve got to work up your strength. You’ve got to swim around the log, sometimes grabbing back on to steady yourself. Maybe that looks like gaining weight before totally focusing on mental recovery. Maybe that means buying fear foods or binge foods and challenging yourself to eat them. Your eating disorder served a purpose. It has made you a better, stronger person. You’re going to get through this. Just keep swimming.