Throughout the recovery process, I was consistently reminded that all recovery journeys are different. Your story will not look like the person sitting next to you or the person sitting next to them. It can be harmful to compare your recovery journey to someone else’s, so instead, take what resonates and leave behind what doesn’t. Each path is richly diverse, unique and courageous — just like our bodies.
Although I wholeheartedly agree with this belief, I’d like to argue that our support systems, during this challenging process, are also vastly different — and that is OK.
For a long while, I hid in shame; not necessarily because of my eating disorder, but because of my lack of “conventional” support. I did not have an abundant support circle, a life overflowing with humans who fought beside me for my recovery, who knew what I needed when I didn’t, or who reached out when I lacked the courage or sense to do so.
I would attend groups and sit in grief and utter humiliation as I heard other members discuss what I like to refer to as a “white picket fence” recovery path.
These individuals would discuss their vast network of support. They had humans who consistently called to check in on them, ate with them and who had large success in any treatment modalities. I was terrified I would be called on and asked to explain my recovery journey. But today, I am proud to say, I no longer feel that way. I have come to recognize that all support systems, no matter how big or small, are beautiful and are a vital piece of one’s recovery.
My recovery system is made up of the most imperfectly perfect humans I know. Although I wasn’t blessed with an abundant support network, I was lucky enough to be given the best treatment team. My therapist, along with my dog Benny and three friends, have played such a critical role in my journey to healing, and the words “thank you” never quite seem to be enough. Although this may not be what a “typical” support system looks like, it is unique and authentic, full of love and life – just like me.
I am now at a place in my journey where I realize what a gift I have been given. During this process, we all have the opportunity to create our recovery family. Humans who help our heart feel love again, who encourage us and watch us as we navigate this ride, and who stand right next to us, holding our hand when we feel we can’t go on. Although my recovery family is small, it is so insanely powerful and a bright, shining light on my darkest days.
I am quite certain that through this roller coaster ride my heart has grown bigger, my love for the humans who stand by me so deep. It has helped me develop a vast appreciation for my journey and myself. Without this path, I would have never had the opportunity to develop my company, The Brave Box. Its meaning and my purpose in this life would have been obsolete.
So if you take away one thing from this story, please take away this. Your recovery journey is special and brilliant because it is yours. And sometimes families aren’t made up of those who share the same blood, sometimes they’re the humans who find you when you need them the most.
You are not alone.