Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

“I’m afraid I’m letting you down.”

I’ve been an advocate for many women seeking treatment for eating disorders and self-injury, helping them find appropriate treatment centers and helping them know what to ask (or even who to call) when calling their insurance companies.  I’ll admit that I love watching these young women (I’m sorry, but I’ve never worked with a male before, but I am fully aware that these illnesses do not discriminate between sexes) grow in recovery–be it in leaps and bounds or small victories.  Every step forward is, indeed, a step forward.

A few days ago, one such person commented to me that she was afraid that was was letting me down because she was having a difficult time adjusting to being in treatment.  Although this worries me on a couple levels, the most important one I want to mention is that your recovery is your recovery. It is not mine; it is not your friends; it is not your therapist’s or doctor’s; and it is not your parents’.  It is yours.

I think a lot of us grew up trying to live up to the expectations of other people, and the guilt that sets in when we think we’ve let them down can sometimes be crushing.  Recovery is the last place you should feel the need to please people.  Everyone’s journey of recovery looks different.  I can only tell you what has worked for me, what has helped me along the way.  I cannot promise you that it will work for you.  And if you happen to do something different than me, I will not feel disappointed.

I will not feel disappointed if you have rough days or if you have those moments where you want to throw in the towel. Are you still trying?  Are you still taking some small step forward in some part of your life?  Are you willing to consider the possibility of recovery?  Are you willing to still listen to people who have been there?  Are you willing to pick up the pieces and give it another shot, no matter how sucky this day was?  If you can answer yes, how could I ever be disappointed?  You’re alive.  You’re fighting.

But on the other side of things: Have you given up completely and walked away from all treatment professionals and supportive friends?  have you literally told us all to “Fuck off” and “Mind your own business”?  Have you decided that the eating disorder is the only way you can live and are unwilling to consider another possibility?  If you answer yes, you haven’t disappointed me, but you may want to see if you are disappointing yourself.

Because this isn’t about me.  It’s about you.  You get to claim all of the hard work you’ve done along the way, the discoveries you’ve made, the knowledge you’ve gained.  That’s not mine.  It’s yours.  And once it’s yours, no one can take it away from you.


September 18, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity, recovery, self harm, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. This entry couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m having a hard time changing behaviors and I was worried that I was disappointing my therapist. But hearing it from your side, it makes sense. Ultimately, our choices are for us, no one else. Yet it is very hard to get over trying to please everyone.

    Comment by Jen K. | September 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thank you very much! I was writting off this whole recovery thing yesterday. Woke up today and have a new outlook. But I still felt so bad writing it out in my integrty list for my therapist. I hate to disapoint her and am so worried that I’ll get fired for not getting better.

    Comment by Recovery Man | September 18, 2009 | Reply

    • Recovery Man, I hope you don’t write off recovery. We all have days in the recovery process where it looks bleak and grim, but it really is worth all the hard effort and work. Talk to your therapist about your fears of disappointing her. Sometimes that can really open up a productive dialogue. And ask her if she’d fire you and under what circumstances. There’s a difference between working with her and still struggling and resisting any and all help offered.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | September 18, 2009 | Reply

    • Some of the most productive (and sometimes difficult) therapy sessions I have had have been a result of being open and honest with my therapist about my ambivalence about recovery. If your therapist is used to working with people with e.d.’s, I can guarantee you that you’re not the first client she’s had that’s debated throwing in the towel! Also, I know that for me, being able to be honest with my therapist about my doubts and fears regarding recovery, and seeing that she was willing to “hold” and work with that, really helped me trust her. 🙂

      Comment by sayhealth | September 20, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi. I’m new to your blog, and I LOVE this entry! I’m in e.d. recovery myself.

    I have had – and still sometimes do have – HUGE fears about disappointing my treatment team. From some of my past experience, and from the experiences of my friends, I get worried that if I make progress and then backslide (which, frankly, is totally typical of recovery), they will be disappointed at best or refuse to keep seeing me at worst. Some of the most healing experiences I’ve had with my team have been those times when they have promised me (and they continue to do so, as I need it) that they are not disappointed in me, they understand that recovery has ups AND downs, and that every recovery is unique.

    Comment by sayhealth | September 20, 2009 | Reply

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