Before recovery, I felt consistency was the key to feeling more in control of my life. I would think “things would be so much better if I could just be more consistent with… (fill in the blank)."
Personally, everything was based on consistency with clean eating and exercise. I would set unrealistic goals for myself, like making it to the gym six days per week, and then if I didn’t meet that consistently I was a failure. I would want to eat healthy every day, for every meal, except “cheat day”. And god forbid I had one meal off my plan during the 6 “on” days, or I was a lazy sack of shit.
I wanted everything to be black and white. I wanted it to be scheduled. I was so rigid in the way I thought I had to live my life. I thought the more rules I had, the more I stuck to them, the more in control I would be, and the easier life would be.
But that’s what eating disorders do – they make you think the more disciplined you are, the more control you exert, the better everything will be.
On a side note, I (much) later realized I was constantly setting these unattainable goals because I didn’t ever feel like I was good enough. Which is a deep seeded belief that drives many of us. That’s a talk for another time though.
Then once recovery started, I expected recovery to be consistent. I would think if I had a good day, I was done with the bad ones and was going to feel that way from then on. I felt like I had beat it. Then if I had a bad day, I felt like a total failure.
I was supposed to be doing better. This was supposed to be getting easier. How could I be happy yesterday, have such positive thoughts, feel strong and unstoppable, but then today slip right back into my old ways of thinking?
My ED voice would say:
… “You can’t do this.”
…“You’re going to be like this forever, why bother changing?”
…“This is too hard, just give up”.
…“It’s OK to start tomorrow”.
So here’s what I learned: the one expectation that will cause you to stay stuck is EXPECTING CONSISTENCY.
So in case you needed permission to be inconsistent – here it is.
Life always has been and always will be INCONSISTENT. Every day you will feel different. You must learn to ride and embrace the waves.
If you’re having a bad day, up the self-care. Do something small that makes you happy. Take a nap. Journal. Cry. Scream. Get away from everyone. Do whatever you have to do to make it through. But the most important thing is to realize IT WILL NOT STAY THIS WAY.
You have to allow yourself to be fluid.
Realize the bad and good days come and go. And soon, the good days come more often than the bad days. It’s ALL part of the ride. You can’t enjoy the ups if you never experience the downs.
Be gentle and patient with yourself.
JOURNAL PROMPT: If this resonated with you - I want you to write down ways you expect consistency and how that is holding you back from living the life you want. Then write down the ways you can become more relaxed and fluid in your life.