Top 4 Things Recovery Has Taught Me

I feel like recently, Facebook has taken it upon itself to make me feel as old as possible. Haha

I kid you not, every day it seems like I’m getting a notification that “so and so and I have been friends for 9 years!” Or “this happened 8 years ago today!” And it assaults you with a grainy photograph that reminds you that you’re no longer a spring chicken.

Just me?


But it’s actually really quite interesting, having all these old pictures get unearthed and thrown at me like an N’Sync jam at a present day wedding reception. Out of left field, and slightly jarring.

Because with each of these photos, I can remember exactly where I was in my recovery. I can remember how I felt about myself, what my exercise/food regimen was at the time (which for a long time into my recovery was still an unhealthy relationship), and the state of my mental wellbeing.

These photos don’t just capture a moment in time. They tell a story. There’s a history that can be seen in the pupils of my eyes…that only I truly know.

But seeing these images everyday, whether I like it or not, they make me reflect on my recovery. On the journey thus far. Revisiting the ups and downs that have gotten me to the place I am today.

So I wanted to share a few things that recovery has taught me. And I know I’ve written about this before, but like I said…recovery is a journey, and I honestly learn something new every day. Or come to a new realization every day…or at least when bombarded by a visual reminder of stops along the way.

1) Just Do the Next Right Thing

This is far and away the number one phrase that got me through a lot of the tough days (and yes, there were many) of recovery. This little gem, offered to me by my mother, helped me through many-a difficult moments. Sometimes, seeing the big picture is like staring a mountain straight in the face. Daunting. Unconscionable. Discouraging. That’s where this little phrase comes in.

Baby steps add up to big steps which add up to real progress. And sometimes a baby step is all you can muster.

Which leads me to my second point…

2) That’s okay.

One of the biggest things I had to learn right out of the gate when it came to recovery was that I need to be patient with myself. And give myself permission to take the time I need to do the work. As much as I would like to say that my full recovery was an overnight phenomenon that happened Day 3 at inpatient, it was a slow go. A series of baby steps. And the Type A/Perfectionist/Over-Achiever/Never-Had-to-Struggle-a-Day-in-my-Life girl in me had to come to terms with that. I had to learn to say, This is where I’m at, and that’s okay.

3) Let People In.

Thinking back to when I was in my disease, one thing stands out from all the rest…and I’m not talking about the glaringly obvious physical difference. It’s how alone I was. Or rather, how self-inflictedly alone. How isolated I made myself.

For years, I would not answer the phone when my friends would call. I wouldn’t return texts. Declined invitations. As my body wasted away, I withdrew further and further into reclusion – not wanting anyone to see how truly sick I was. Once a vibrant, socially flourishing young girl, I now just wanted to be left alone to self-destruct with ED. And that, honestly, more than anything, is one of the most devastating aspects of an eating disorder: the toll it takes on your relationships.

There is freedom in opening your heart to others. One of the greatest gifts that has come out of my recovery is the true value I now have for the relationships in my life, and how I cherish the people I love.

Friendship is a gift. But you have to show up, and let people get close to the real and messy you.


4) My Body is Part of Me, Not All of Me.

I’ll keep this short…

I have a body. A body which allows me to think and run and dance and do all the cliched things that advertisers like to depict in tampon commercials.


There is more to me than this body. And there is more to life than this body.

And as soon as I realized that, and stopped focusing on it, the healthier my relationship with it became.

So yes, I celebrate the fact that I am a confident, healthy and yes, beautiful, young woman, but I realize that my body is only part of that equation.

I am a work of art, made by the most accomplished of Artists. And that is what is truly the most beautiful and most celebratory thing about me. It’s the soul inside my body. The soul that seeks to know and worship the King.

So sure, when it comes to Facebook, maybe it’s a little jarring to come face to face with a forgotten photo from the deep and dark abyss of the inter webs from the early 2000’s. But honestly, I don’t need a fuzzy photo to see just how far I’ve come. I’m my own living, breathing embodiment of the freedom I have, and the healing that’s taken place. It’s written on my heart. And today, that’s what’s in the pupils of my eyes.

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180 responses to “Top 4 Things Recovery Has Taught Me”

  1. This is such a beautiful post, I love everything about it from the gorgeous selfie to the four things you learned in recovery. You always do such a nice job with your posts, I truly look forward to reading them each week! Keep it up!

  2. I have been in 12-Step recovery for my various issues for some time now. (I don’t like to state the numbers for fear of a swelled head.) I share two of these things strongly.

    “The next right thing” (in those exact words) came to me in one of my earliest meetings and changed my life. Planning is necessary, but living in the future destroys the present.

    The other important item here for me is the isolation. I don’t believe, looking back now, that I ever had a real relationship with anyone prior to recovery. I pushed people away or “faked it” (feelings) to protect my fragile inner self. I don’t have to do that any more, and my friendships and relationships enrich my life more than I can say.

    Thank you for the reminders of how blessed I am.

    • Hi friend, thank you so much for sharing this. I love that: living in the future destroys the present. That’s powerful stuff. And I’m so glad you’ve got strong and beautiful relationships in your life. You’re so right-they enrich our lives more than words can express. Congratulations of your recovery ❤️Hugs and love xox

  3. This is a beautiful life story and well told. Its great to look back and to notice how far you’ve come! I applaud you and your success 🙂 #overcome #shedidthat

  4. Well said

    Your number 1 (1) Just Do the Next Right Thing) reminds me of something we taught in prison ministry and now I teach (and use) for stressful life moments. We called it the Rule of Twos. When you’re really stressed out only concern yourself with what needs dealt with in the next two minutes. Once the next two minutes are handled then get the next two hours sorted. Once that happens move on to two days, two months, etc. If stress starts to take over back up to the last Two where it was okay and start the process over.

    Thanks for your courage, openness, and wisdom!

  5. Comments on Patreon! I will say here that Julie Andrews is my life-long crush (and why I married a Julie. ok, just kidding there). Depending on my age, I’ve been in love and/or lust with her for decades. And the hills are still alive with the sound of her music!

  6. Let people in. Let them see the real you. – This is essential to an authentic relationship and yet is takes courage to do so. I applaud your bravery and your willingness to share in a way that encourages others.

      • I came back and gave the podcast a listen. There is a lot of wisdom about embracing yourself. I know that is your general message, but it radiated more closely with me this time as I listened to the message. Thank you again for sharing your story. Although I have never wrestled with ED your words are healing. Side note…I really enjoyed the songs! Fantastic voice!!!

      • You did!!? Oh yay!! That makes me so happy:) thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed the voice version:) yeah, I feel like I write the way I speak, and sometimes that doesn’t exactly translate on paper. Haha glad you enjoyed it:) thanks again. Massive hugs xox

  7. Excellent read and good advice for healing of all kinds. These steps work for grief, as well. The journey is not a straight one, but each step is progress. And I’m learning to be kind to myself. As always, thank you for sharing.

  8. Wow what a coincidence in theme here darling princess carolyn? Just like admitting it’s taking me 5 tough years to heal to this point from a holistically messed up life to one of hollistic wellbeing – my 3 day spiritual retreat was the climax. And here let me share a power quote I learned yesterday with us all – em tying in with your point 3: “Come to know the power and authority of your graces with the same precision with which you have come to know your brokeness and pain” Caroline Myss. Have a lovely week my sister in Christ

  9. Outstanding post. Thank you for sharing this. I will try to remember your most important lessons as I go through my own process.

  10. Beautiful reminders!

    Our God is so kind to encounter us during our darkest times, but not leave us hanging there. I’m recovering from a failed marriage and a lot of these same principles ring true. One thing a faithful counselor told me is to not neglect the “little victories” that they are just as important as the big ones. It’s one of the most important pieces of advice anyone has ever given me, so I loved reading that as part of your story! In despondency just like with ED (i imagine from what i’ve read), sometimes baby steps are all you can make when you’re fighting for your life, and that’s ok 🙂 love that truth!

    I’m praying God continues to restore your identity as His Daughter, it’s been encouraging to read about your journey!

    • Thank you so much Matt. I’m so glad this resonated with you. I love that advice. It’s true – little victories are cause to celebrate. Thank you for the prayers. They mean the world. So glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

  11. Sure I’ve told you I’m in recovery too, from depression. I think that’s why what you write resonates so strongly with me. It seems no matter what we are recovering from, the issues involved cut across all lines. For what it’s worth, here are the top four things I’ve learned from recovery.
    1. God is for your recovery and healing, not against it (Isa 53:3-5).
    2. God will not kick you when you’re down (Isa 42:2-3).
    3. Some churches and spiritual leaders are good for recovery, and some are bad. Make sure you know the difference.
    4. With the right help – spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, and perhaps medically – you can live a happy and fulfilling life. You just need to learn how to stop Depression from sabotaging it.

    • Hi David, wow thank you so much for sharing this. Your “four” are so powerful and really resonate with me. Yes, they cut across all lines. So glad we’re on the journey together! Hugs and love xox

  12. I love #1! I’m going to borrow that one. You are absolutely right that often the big picture is so daunting, it can be immobilizing. Thanks for your thoughtful post. Peace!

  13. “Do the Right Thing…” such simple advice that could save so much pain, heartache, and trouble. I work with folks who sometimes have some issues with wrong thinking. I try to remind them that people who are where they are supposed to be, doing what they are supposed to be doing rarely get in trouble….. I honestly don’t always take that advice which I why I’m giving up control to Him!

    • Thanks B. Yeah sometimes it’s the simplest of things that packs the most punch. I have to remind myself this little phrase all the time. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  14. Yes, just do the next right thing and cooperate with the flow of Divine Grace in your life. Even your preparation for the reception of grace was already a work of grace. The „Prayer of Jesus“ of the eastern tradition of christianity is a very beautiful and deep way to come into alignment with that divine energy of grace. John Chrysostom says: „Continue constantly in the name of the Lord Jesus, that the heart may swallow the Lord and the Lord the heart, and that these two may be one…“

    • Thanks for this! I can always count on you for a powerful quote hat strikes the heart. I love that. Thank you for sharing it with me! Hope your week is off to a great start:) big hugs xox

      • The Jesus Prayer is also called the „Prayer of the Heart“, because it helps you to jump into the presence of God within your own heart, relax into it and move in it and discover deeper and deeper dimensions of your personal relationship with Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the fullness of life and every time you make the Jesus Prayer quickening is given to your soul. It is said, that you can reach the point, that this prayer becomes unceasing. In other words: it will not be in pronouncing words, but as a constant awareness of the Divine Presence within your heart (that’s what the apostle Paul called the „unceasing prayer“).

  15. I have learned that every experience good or bad was given to me so that I may grow in the Lord Jesus, and help others NOT to make the same mistakes I did.

    Keep on moving forward and never look back because you cannot change what happened yesterday, but you can influence tomorrow.

  16. It was wonderful reading this post. What a strong person you are! I am intrigued to read more of your story – I’ll be stopping by some more I am sure. I love the bit you wrote: “Friendship is a gift. But you have to show up, and let people get close to the real and messy you.” It’s a lesson that really hit me in the face lately; when we get hurt we can clam up for weeks, months or even years and then we wonder why we only have superficial friendships at best. If I want my friends to notice when I am having a difficult day or to know what’s going on all the time, then I need to “show up” and make myself available to spend time with them.

    • Thank you so much! Wow what a kind thing to say. Yes! Friendship is such a gift. And you’re right, I have to remind myself that too. People aren’t kind readers. I have to express my feelings. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

      • Do you find that sometimes you get negative comments on your blog? That would be sad – you have made yourself vulnerable in sharing your story and if people encourage you along the way, then it can only assist in your healing. I recommended your blog to a friend on facebook who suffers from anxiety and an eating disorder. She said she would check it out :). You will be able to help her in a way that many of her friends can’t; in reading your honest accounts and also knowing that you are a Christian, she will hopefully feel better about her struggle and see that there is hope.

      • Wow thank you for this and for passing along my blog to your friend. Thankfully I haven’t received too many negative comments. I have been so grateful for all he wonderful support. Hugs and love xox

  17. Ignore Facebook! I’m an anoretic as well. Once considered recovered, I found that I still have all the same habits, but have just internalized them. Facebook is an awful echo chamber that makes a person feel out of the loop and like they need to catch up with others. I’m lucky that I shut mine down a few years ago; it doesn’t remind me about stuff very often. I’m about to shut it down again. I find that engaging with people in real life is what helps me best. Xo

    • Hi friend, thank you for sharing this. Yeah, sometimes shutting it down is the best course of action! You’re right-real life interaction is powerful. I’m sorry that you and I have are connected through our paths, by know I am rooting for you in your recovery. We’re on the journey together:) Hugs and love xox

  18. HAHA you are old Caralyn 😛 x. Im pretty sure Im older than you I think (27 nearly 28) so thanks haha <3 x. Im proud of you so much lovely x. I might not have been there from the start but I can see the difference physically, mentally & spiritually to the point where you encourage us all, I am so thankfully for that lovely x. sending you lots of love and warm hugs!! (If you think of Olaf reading that then I love you even more hehe) xx

  19. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you. And I know what you mean – every photo there is of me (very few, I avoid photos like the plague) I know exactly where I am, what diet plan, what weight etc etc.

    I hate it. But it can remind you how far you’ve come. I just need to see it in a different light. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much. Yeah, those photos can be a pretty jabbing reminder of the pain. But also a beautiful reminder of the freedom and new life we now have:) you’re right-it’s all in how we look at it. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your heart:) I’m grateful for you! Hugs and love xox

  20. Wow!!! That was such a truthful and really honest post. Yeah, I agree–Facebook is doing this whole, “Hey guess how long YOU’VE been around” thing, and even though I am only a twenty-something adult, it can make you look back just like you wrote. You’re totally on point though–God made you a sum of parts. And all of those things you listed are huge blessings that we should all take heart in when we think of how our lives operate!

    We can have friends and have loved ones and share emotions. We have bodies that can do truly amazing things in whatever we decide to put our minds to. And most importantly, through the process of patience, we can learn from our lives and adjust and grow as people.

    Thanks for liking my content, as I am a new Christian/Fitness blogger, and I will definitely keep following you and reading your awesome content! 🙂 It’s a pleasure meeting you!

    • Thank you so much! Welcome to the wonderful and wild world of blogging! I look forward to following your journey! So true – the process of patience definitely offers some powerful lessons. Thanks again for stopping by! Big hugs xox

  21. Beautifully stated. True for all recovering from all sorts of hurts, habits and hang ups. I’m sure the King of Kings is rejoicing in how you’ve handled your journey. Beautifully.

  22. Reblogged this on ishidee and commented:
    This is a terrific article by a woman who has conquered a devastating illness. I am re-posting it to help others to understand anorexia and, also, in the hope that it will benefit those who are battling this ailment.

  23. You are such a lovely person! I have re-posted this on my blog for others to see. I remember coming into contact with a young girl of 16 in the hospital, who had anorexia, when I had broken my hip. At first, I thought that she had cancer or some other devastating illness, and that was why she was so thin. Before I was told that she had an eating disorder, I offered her a rice cake to eat, and she, immediately, backed up with horror in her eyes and said “No, no, no!”, I had never experienced anything like that before.

    She was a very sweet girl and she, also, was a very talented artist and had drawings that she shared with me. She had drawings of her family, and it was disturbing that the picture of her father was very foreboding, which made me think that she might have been abused. In any case, she was close to my heart, and I, along with other people in the hospital, were trying to reach out to her and help. It was a very complex situation and she was taken off to a specialized hospital for anorexic patients where she was not allowed to have contact with people outside of the hospital, so I lost contact with her. I have often wondered if she survived.

    I am so pleased to see your recovery and how beautiful you are! Thank you for sharing your story with others!

  24. it was really nice listening to your voice! that inspires me to do one of my own one days! thanks for sharing this I appreciate it and your help I also find it amazing that you reply to every comment that is mad crazy and real commitment

  25. I really appreciate this post–you have great insight. #3 is certainly the most difficult for me personally, but, regardless, I am working hard to try and let loved ones in.

  26. Hi there bbb! I wanted to comment on your post where you were venting about someone’s insensitive remark. But for some reason when I type in the comment box nothing shows. (Very frustrating!) So here’s my comment: Bravo to you! I applaud you for expressing your frustration so clearly and so well! And for standing up for yourself! Sometimes that is SO hard to do. I love your blog! I haven’t had the particular challenge you have, but I have my own issues, so I can relate with much of what you write. You and your blog are a blessing, and I thank you! 🙂

  27. Dear Sonja,
    Thank you for liking my blog post. These are great touchstones for anyone in any kind of recovery. My daughter’s girlfriend is in recovery from an eating disorder so I will read your blog with interest. PS it was *really* hard to find your actual name on your site! 🙂

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