As I was parking at the grocery store today, there were no spots up front, so I decided to park in the back near the buggy drop off- as a mom of littles, it is easier/safer that way. After I parked, I noticed a woman creeping down the aisle obviously looking for a front row spot. I got Anna Blue out, and the woman slowly passed by again, visibly frustrated. Then it was Graham’s turn, and we snagged a cart next to the car. AGAIN the woman came down the aisle and proceeded to honk at me when I was crossing in front of her to go into the store. She threw her hands up at me, said some words I would not want to repeat, and banged her fists on her wheel in sheer anger. Guess the parking lot fairy, as my mom says, was not being kind to her today. I waved, walked me and my children into the store and went on with our shopping. What is my point? Let me get to it…
That woman paced the parking lot at least 4 times looking for a front row spot. I went to an open spot in the back, parked, got my kids out, and walked in the store in the amount of time it took her to get good and mad and she STILL did not make any progress in her task at hand of shopping. You have seen this scenario play out in many different ways, shapes, and forms in your own experience, but did you stop to think about it in reference to recovery? There are no short cuts. If you try to cut corners in treatment, you will only prolong the process and end up frustrated and behind. Let’s look at two specifics.
When I first started to see a nutritionist about 8 months before I entered inpatient hospitalization I was put on a meal plan to attempt to help me balance out and bulk up my food intake. I was so skewed in my perception of what I was actually eating that I would log that I ate two servings of fruit when I actually only had half of one, and I would lie outright about my fats and carbs. When I would walk into the dietitian’s office I would look like gold on paper, but my weight was steadily dropping. Obviously, I am not the first client to do this, so after 6 months of me lying, cheating, and manipulating my meal plan, it was determined that I needed a higher level of care. I thought my team was delusional; I was not even thin in my mind, so I just stopped eating. As I was drug crying into the Carolina house (a residential eating disorder center) I still had opposing opinions about the meal plan that was put in place for me. I knew what was good for me, and that was not what I was there for; didn’t they get that?!? (Insert eye roll towards my disordered self here) I was flabbergasted by the portion size and thought they were truly trying to kill me. The dietitian finally took me aside after a few days of my protesting and griping, and she said, “Brooke, we are only following the plan your dietitian had in place in Atlanta. Didn’t you follow this before?” With my hands clinched in fists and tears in my eyes, I slammed my hands on the couch and said, “Hell no! I cheated like a mug! Why do you think I am here?!?!”
Do you see the comparison playing out? I was the lady searching for the front row space in the parking lot. If I had listened to my dietitian from the beginning, did the hard, diligent work of following a meal plan (along with the obvious therapy that I needed) I may have been able to park and go on into the store without making any detours. But, that was not in the cards for me. I didn’t want to put in the work. I wanted to cheat the system. I was not willing to change my ways short term to ultimately get better mentally and physically in the long run. I wasted so many years trying to cheat my way out of fully healing. Turns out, all that avoidance, stubbornness, and unwillingness to work only landed me deeper in my disorder. There are no escalators on the climb to recovery… only stairs. You cannot wait around for the elevator that does not even exist… you just have to hike up your boots and start climbing.
Phew, this is a tough subject. There are so many scenarios, hardships, hurdles, and circumstances that come along with this topic, but such is life. There is no such thing as a free lunch (pun intended), and recovery will never come free, both metaphorically and literally. Let’s discuss the literal in my journey- my husband and I are teachers, have great insurance, and get paid a decent monthly salary. We would be considered lower middle class, had (before my treatment) zero debt, and we follow the Dave Ramsey rules of “if you live like no one else today, you’ll live like no one else tomorrow.” Why am I giving you my personal financial business? Because when I was told that I would have to go to inpatient treatment to fight the disorder that was killing me, even though insurance would cover 70% of my medical needs, that still left us with a $27,000 bill that we did not have the money for and me out of work for 6 months without pay. Gulp. So what did we do? We made it happen. We applied for medical loan after medical loan until someone covered us. We maxed out our credit card. We sold whatever we could of value in our home. We cut the cable. My husband took extra jobs coaching and driving a bus. We grinded for the money because my life is worth more than the $27,000 it would take to get me the help I needed.
Honestly, my point is a little tougher to swallow. Nothing worth having comes easy. Because we did, and still are working to pay off that debt (we are down to $15,000 after 12 months of hard work! Whoo Hoo!), because it was not handed to me, to us, we do not take the weight and value of recovery lightly. It is all too easy to set up a go-fund me page and beg for someone to take the financial burden away from you, and there are cases where that is needed and that is the best option/blessing there is, but it also takes that I earned this aspect out of recovery. I had a colleague that placed her daughter in an anxiety/depression recovery program, and her sweet daughter asked to help pay for the cost by working and paying her mom back for the treatment. My friend said, “Brooke, there is no way I can allow her to do that. She is my daughter and I would do anything for her health and well-being!” My response was, “What if her taking responsibility for the financial part of her recovery will be the factor that makes her appreciate the hard work she is doing to live free from her demons that much more?” Get my point? It is like buying a kid a cell phone verses making them earn money to buy one on their own. Let’s be honest, the kid that worked for that phone will always be the kid that understands its worth. Recovery is no different.
Another point I want to throw out there is that it is always easier to help to someone who is working his/her damndest to make a way for his/her self. I have learned that first hand. We have had help along the way, but that help was never asked for, it was always given through God prompts on our loved one’s hearts after they saw our diligence, hard work, and dedication to work so honestly and hard for my health and freedom from ED. Derrick and I never stopped tithing or giving to others throughout our own struggle, and God provided tenfold for us. Even in months that we were going to be $1,200 in the hold solely from bills alone; somehow we always ended up with the exact amount of money that we needed to survive and provide for our family that month. This may seem like a cliché, sing-song pitch, but it is simply the law of attraction. What you put out there is what you get back; give and it shall be given to you. Don’t wait around feeling sorry for yourself or think it’s not worth it… I am not worth it… because you are. You are more than worth a free life, even if you have to work like hell for it. It pays off in the end… and I am proof of that.
My point… you can’t have a million dollar dream on minimum wage effort. Recovery will never be handed to you. It will never be the front row spot. It will never be the million dollar power ball. It will come from blood, sweat and tears. It will come from the long hours of extra and grueling work. It will come from the sacrifices, the faced fears, and the digging deep. But I can tell you this… the sooner you get to work, the sooner freedom comes. Waiting is just accepting where you are in misery instead of demanding a better life for yourself. Recovery is not a privilege, it earned. So get started. It is worth it, Fighter.