February 4, 2011 Jeanne Rust

Love and Recovery

love and recovery The approach of Valentine's Day reminded me of the importance of love in recovery from an eating disorder or any other addiction. I have counseled many clients who, on the surface, appeared to be making great progress. They followed their meal plans, kept appointments with their dietitian and courageously explored family of origin issues. But while they were right on track with recovery from their eating disorders, their personal lives were derailed by the impression that they were leading empty, meaningless lives.

It takes time to develop a sense of the woman you can become without an eating disorder, and it's tempting to look outside yourself for meaning and purpose. Many addicts in early recovery will leap into a new relationship – or a new addiction – in the search for something that will make them feel whole.

But love is a verb, not a noun. And each of us chooses every day whether we're going to live in a world of love or a world of fear.

Rick Hansen, an expert in neurotherapy, has greatly influenced my opinion of love and recovery. He says we can consider ourselves "at home" when our brains are in their resting state. The resting state is the brain when it's not stressed, in pain, or feeling threatened. In the resting state, we are grounded in love.

We can easily be made "homeless" by something such as a critical remark in a public setting or a frown from our spouse. In that "homeless" state, we can get caught up in feelings of fear and anger. Our task is to return home, where we'll find nothing but love around us. The love we have in our hearts will energize and protect us.

When our hearts are full of love — expressed one way or another, including generosity, kindness, patience, affection, and caring — it's impossible for an eating disorder to put its foot in the door.