Transformation Tuesday: Willingness to Change
Out of the countless attempts at recovery, I was always told the same thing, “you cannot truly heal until you are ready to do so.” I have news for all those people; that is a lie. It is a myth that will destroy you and sabotage you. It is a statement that is destructive. If you are waiting to enter recovery until you feel ready, you will be waiting for the rest of your life. You will be waiting until you are on your death bed and forced to get help. You will be waiting until you have no choice anymore. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. There is no time to wait to seek help. You have to act now regardless of how sick you feel or not being thin enough to deserve help or what is going on in your life or what others are telling you. You do not have to feel ready. You do not need to have your arms wide open to embrace it; every aspect of it. You do not have to feel fully prepared for all the process will bring. I do not know one person who went into treatment smiling and fully ready to tackle every battle that would come their way, open to let go of all the behaviors that disguised themselves as lifelines and an escape. What I stress is that you just have to be willing. You have to be open to consenting to do things differently, to agree to make a change, to free yourself from reluctance. You have to be willing to do what you heart asks of you, what health requires, what recovery will give you.
In recovery for me, everything changed when I embraced the idea of switching to needing to be ready to needing to be willing. It switched my mentality to a place where I felt recovery was more approachable, less intimidating, more in my reach. I could achieve a better future today. I didn’t have to wait to wake up to live my dreams. I could choose, right in the moment, to turn things around. In the past, I kept waiting for that light bulb moment when I felt ready, when everything in me would click so that I could see I deserve recovery. I kept postponing making changes as I twiddled my thumbs hoping that inspiration would hit and my mind would fully embrace this beautiful thing called recovery that everyone bragged about. I was waiting for a moment, trying to force something, that wasn’t going to come. I stalled recovery until I reached the point where I could no longer walk, no longer had the opportunity to delay, no longer had time to waste. Even then, even when I was close to being the best person with anorexia (you only get that title by being dead), I still wasn’t ready. If that wasn’t eye opening enough, if that didn’t change my mindset, what would? Would I ever be ready?
I had to be realistic and honest answering that question. I couldn’t give the answer I thought I “should” give or people would want to hear. I couldn’t give the one that I thought everyone would think would make me an inspiration. I had to give the authentic one, the human one, the one that would ultimately set me free. No, I would never be ready. However, I would be willing. I would never be ready for the weight gain. I would never be ready to start allowing myself to feel. I would never be ready for the extreme discomfort. I would never be ready for the countless tears, the sleepless nights, the moments of extreme torture as I wanted to rip my skin off. I would never be ready for the showers in which the water would disguise the tears as I had to be exposed to myself. I would never be ready for the fear each time glancing at my reflection as I changed. I would never be ready for the day by day process of growth. I would never be ready for the strength it takes to battle the thoughts, to let go of the familiar. I would never be ready to step out of my comfort zone. I would never be ready to give myself a life that would, in the end, would make me happy. I could, despite all my fears and trepidations and hesitancy, be willing to undergo the transformation. I may not have been ready to make the first step, but I was willing to do it for the sake of my dreams, my hopes, my future, the desires of my heart.
Readiness is so hard to come by in recovery from an addiction because this illness becomes your answer, your escape, the thing you rely on to get you through this unpredictable life, your sense of control. You become so blended with the disorder that any reason you would be ready for recovery seem invisible. You become so dependent on the disorder that you fear what will happen, who you will be, what life will look like without it. The mere thought of letting go becomes all consuming. You want to delay that unknown for as long as possible, postpone the discomfort, keep the comforting thoughts with you for just one more day. Who is ever ready to relinquish the familiar even if it is killing them?
Do not be held back by this lack of readiness. I assure you that as you start to heal, as you begin to experience blessed moments of signs of happiness, random smiles, belly laughs, brief seconds of freedom, motivation will build over time. What began as willingness with great ambivalence will transform into a desire to overcome. The behavior change has to come first before the desire because your brain cannot heal until your body receives the nourishment it needs to think clearly. Deprived of the nutrients, its focus will be off and its priorities will be skewed. If you give recovery a proper chance, you will reap the benefits. You will witness why you went through all the pain and discomfort and unpredictability. You will get to proudly stand as a survivor. Your eyes will get to see that life is truly beauty full. Be open. Be willing.