What's the defintion of "recovery"? Does it mean never again engaging in eating disorder behaviors? Being totally in love with your body? Attaining perfect physical and emotional health? For a population already prone to hyper-perfectionism, achieving complete recovery may seem overwhelming or even impossible.
Some professionals claim that anyone who engages in eating behaviors is still active in the eating disorder. Others see recovery as continuum. Their clients are "practicing recovery", and an occasional slip or relapse is just part of the process. They're in recovery until they're not.
Recovery is simply the difference between engaging in eating disorder behaviors or practicing recovery without the eating disorder behaviors. We can push back against the compulsions if we're constantly challenging ourselves and the eating disorder voice.
Unfortunately, an eating disorder is not just about the food! It affects every area of our lives — spiritually, emotionally, physically, intellectually and sexually.
A perfect recovery is never about being perfect. Individuals practicing recovery may still have negative thoughts about food. They may not love their bodies every minute of every day. Recovery involves healing oneself emotionally and learning to be loving and caring towards oneself — choosing to develop a healthier physical and psychological state of being and incorporating it into your daily life.
Many people don't realize that recovery includes a grieving process. It's normal to grieve the loss of the "BFF" that gave them an identity — albeit a very unhealthy and dangerous one. Recovering means developing a new identity and a new sense of self.
Eating disorder recovery is a journey. It may be "two steps forward and one back", but it's always in a forward direction. You may find it works best to undertake recovery in stages. Please be kind to your emerging but imperfect healthy self along the way.