Friday, May 22, 2009

The H.O.W. of Recovery (beating ana - part 2)

An eating disorder places a curiously strong yet invisible barrier between you and your life. In the Alcoholics Anonymous tradition, it is said that there are three key ingredients you must cultivate in order to do this. These three things are the "H.O.W." of recovery. They are, in this order: 

1- Honesty: objectively looking at your life and seeing what is broken and who can fix it.
2- Openness: being open to believing that the way life has been doesn't dictate the future.
3- Willingness: the "I will do whatever it takes" attitude that sustained recovery requires.

We take action when we have the honesty to admit that things are still broken, despite our best efforts otherwise. We take action when we hold ourselves continually open to new techniques, remaining resolutely receptive to new sources of support and new feeds of information. We take action when we are willing, in each new moment, to try again. 

H.O.W. are you going to overcome your eating disorder?For this assignment, write about these three elements, asking yourself whether or not you feel that you have each quality and have it in sufficient measure to commit to healing and to your own life.

1- Honesty: This is a really tough one for me. But it is something that I am continually trying to work on. So, I need to be honest about my life - what is broken - and who can fix it... 
I realize that my life is spiraling and unmanageable and not even close to where I want it to be, but I guess the problem is that I am not even sure where I want it to be really. I have lived with this distorted and deceiving illness for so long that it has left me confused and unprepared for life.
The thing that is broken is ME

And finally, who can fix it is me along with lots of help, protection, guidance, & the trust of my treatment team. I KNOW that I need more intensive treatment, right now, than I am getting. How do I know this? Because if I am being honest with myself (and listening to everyone around me) - I can see that I am sliding backwards, and I have been for a while, at a rapid pace. I can deny this all I want - but until I am able to be honest about it, things are only going to get worse, not better! 

2- Openness: I need to be open to believe that the way my life has been -  doesn't have to be my life in the future. I really want to believe this! And I guess this exercise is telling me that I don't necessarily have to believe that right now, I just have to be open to the idea, until I am able to really believe it. I want to believe that my life is so much more than my eating disorder and my past - but it's difficult (seemingly impossible) for me to believe right now... but I will work on trying to be more open to this. Because I need to believe that I am more than my eating disorder!!

3- Willingness: is the "I will do whatever it takes" attitude that sustained recovery requires. This one is tough, because I feel like sometimes I have it and sometimes I don't. It's hard to have this attitude when you are really struggling and easier to have this attitude when things are going better. But I guess that is the challenge here, to try and have this attitude all the time (or as much as you can) especially when you are feeling the hopelessness, exhaustion, and beaten down feelings e.d. can consume you with.
To sum this assignment looks like I have a lot to work on, but I feel that it was helpful to think about these things and where I feel I am at in each of these categories. I wrote them all down on an index card that I am going to carry with me and read and think about often.


  1. LOVE this post! And totally love your honesty. I don't think anyone could doubt your sincerity in wanting to change your life and fight ED. You go girl!

  2. It's hard to think about disrupting your life for XX days to go inpatient treatment. That's a huge decision. I know. I was an IP drop out (lasted 10 days). But there were a lot of reasons that went into that. I don't know if I could ever do that again.

    I don't know what's available to you, but is there an IOP program you could do, or a night program? Or do you think that at this point, the only thing to do is go IP?

  3. Thanks for the support and kind words. :)

    I am probably going to to IOP but my insurance only covers so much and so many days - so it's like we are trying to decide what I can afford and what I might benefit most from...if that makes sense. I have done those IOP and inpatient before so, it's just hard to make the decision. And it's hard to leave my life AGAIN for this because I feel like right now, especially with work, I am not in a position to leave and go inpatient despite the fact that that is where everyone thinks I need to be...oh it's just frusterating!