If there’s one theme for the past season – it would be the season of challenges.
No matter who we are, where we’re from, our background, our life situation…COVID has been the great equalizer. It has presented us all with incredible, life altering challenges.
Be it health, be it financial, be it loneliness or isolation, be it fear, be it job loss, be it separation from loved ones — COVID and the repercussions it’s brought have touched each and every one of us.
I was thinking about that when I was in Maine a few weeks ago. My friends and I had set out to hike Conners Nubble in Acadia National Park.
It is considered one of Maine’s “mountains” – even though I don’t even think it breaks 1,000 feet. But that is besides the point.
But to be honest, we had had quite ~the evening~ the night before. Think: a few bottles of wine, dancing to the Spice Girls, and tearful heart-to-hearts that are shared between friends only past midnight.
Well, anywho – we had set our alarms to hike at the crack of dawn the next morning.
And standing at the base of that mountain, a little groggy and a lot sleep deprived, the climb to the top seemed a bit insurmountable.
But once we got going, I realized – this climb is literally just putting one foot in front of the other. One step at a time. And about two hours — and probably close to ~I’m not kidding~ THIRTY stops for photo-ops later, we finally reached the top.
And let me tell you, the view was absolutely magnificent.
And on the way down, I realized how that was an exact allegory to my recovery from anorexia.
I think one of the biggest hurdles to adopting recovery in the first place, is how overwhelming it seems from the onset.
You’re at the base of this huge mountain, and you’re just completely intimidated — paralyzed, even — with the monumental task in front of you. How will I ever get to the top? It’s going to take an eternity to get there! Where do I even begin?!
Walking into inpatient with over 35 pounds to gain, the job at hand seemed insurmountable. I was terrified of gaining weight, petrified of butter, entirely addicted to exercise, and to top it all off, I refused to even admit that I had a problem, period! To say that I had my work cut out for me would be the understatement of the century.
That very first night, when I was trying to fall asleep in my makeshift cot at the nurses station, which they required me to sleep in so they could monitor my heart overnight – I read a letter that my mom had left with me when she dropped me off that morning. She and my dad flew across the country with me to Arizona where I would be in treatment for the next three months.
And lying there – wide awake: partially because I was terrified, but mainly because I had horrific insomnia because my melatonin/serotonin/Adrenalin levels were on the fritz because my nervous system was so compromised, I opened her letter.
And inside was the greatest advice I’ve ever received, that not only was the foundation for my recovery, but has become a motto in life:
Just do the next right thing.
Just like each little step led to climbing that mountain, so too does each small decision add up to reaching that seemingly insurmountable goal.
What was the next right thing I had to do that day? Finish my snack? Ask God for help? Take a deep breath? Give thanks for a second chance? Go to a meeting with my therapist?
Baby steps add up to big steps, which add up to leaps, then bounds. And with every decision I made towards my ultimate goal, I was training that muscle to act positively. Each decision got easier and more natural and less scary, and the next thing I knew, I was looking back at how far I’ve come, with the top of the mountain getting closer and closer than I could have ever dreamed at the onset.
And standing here 13 years later – 13 years strong into a recovery, and life I never thought possible, it’s safe to say that that little phrase has been a truly life changing mindset to adopt.
And so now, with COVID’s new reality presenting daunting challenges we’d have never foreseen, I have to remind myself that same advice from so long ago: just do the next right thing.
Maybe that looks like reaching out to a friend. Maybe that looks like revisiting the budget, or getting creative with financial allocations.
Because the mountain we’ve been presented with is unlike any we’ve ever seen, and truthfully, we don’t exactly know what “getting out of this alive” looks like. We’ve got to be flexible. Adaptable. Able to pivot at a moment’s notice. And for sure – be able to exercise incredible fortitude and strength in the face of relational adversity – given distance, isolation and loneliness.
And one final thing: it has been chiefly helpful to remember that, though we can feel all alone facing our individual “Goliath” — the fact of the matter is that we’re all in this together.
You, me, our loved ones and neighbors – are all collectively journeying through this frightful unknown together. And what a blessing it is to have little communities like this one to rely on – to realize that you’re not alone, and to draw strength from one another, and the bonds that unite.
Because at the end of the day, we are all one body in Christ. One family of believers. Sisters and brothers, united by crimson ties that can never EVER be broken.
I’m praying for you, and am cheering you on as we’re all putting one foot in front of the other, just doing the next right thing.
Hugs and love xox Caralyn
To hear my story, you can watch a video of one of my talks below.
And to order a copy of my recovery resource, “Bloom,” a 60-day recovery guided journal, click here.
In the words of my mother, Just do the next right thing!
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A huge shoutout to Reason Nutrition Beverage! Their all-natural, high calorie drink is not only delicious, but it has no “garbage” in it! Utilizing the wholesome goodness of coconut oil, it’s a phenomenal option for those needing to gain weight in recovery, or for those simply looking to supplement their diet with convenient and fast nutrition. Check them out!
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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