Each time I have attempted recovery I went into it with the idea that I would have the “perfect” recovery – whether that meant following my meal plan to the letter or exercising a certain way for a certain time, I wanted to be perfect. I spent over a decade trying to be perfect in my eating disorder, and failing.
Lapses are a normal part of recovery, there a shitty part, but completely normal. My first lapse, I came to my therapist almost in tears I was so ashamed. I told her how sorry I was for “ruining” my recovery. I thought I was all over because I engaged in eating disorder behaviours. I couldn’t have been more wrong! As I went through treatment and made more friends in recovery, I realized we all struggle, we all trip, we all fuck up. And that is ok.
This isn’t just for ED recovery, no matter what you are recovering from: PTSD, depression, OCD, etc. Slip-ups are normal, the main this is that we learn to cope with our struggles in a healthy way. After a lapse, it can be easy to beat ourselves up, feel like we have failed – we haven’t.
Often people with eating disorders, anxiety disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have perfectionistic tendencies anyway, so when we bravely attempt recovery and then slip up, it normal react strongly.
Lapses are terrible, confusing and scary. Lapses also give us the opportunity to reassess our needs, to practice self -care and to fight even harder for recovery. If you lapse, the best thing to do it is reach out to a friend who you can trust and remember that you are human and perfection is impossible.
We will never be perfect in our illness and we will never be perfect in our recovery. We find who we are through our imperfections, there is more to life than striving for perfection. Trying to be perfect through recovery will only hurt progress. Let yourself be human.