Hard Truth: Recovery is Not Guaranteed

I do believe that I have some humble pie to eat tonight…

Which is ironic, given the topic of tonight’s post: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Spoiler alert: it’s this week.

And the theme this year is: Strength through Experience and Knowledge: It’s Time for Change.

Taken from the NEDA website: “#EDAW 2023 is an opportunity to center on lived experiences and eating disorder education, which are the essential catalysts for awareness and change.”

Lived experiences.”

I read that once and I had to close my laptop, frustrated at the “woke” word salad jargon that has now made its way into Eating Disorder recovery verbiage.

You see, the whole obsession with “lived experiences” that has taken hold of our country over the last four years is absolutely infuriating. Because what it does is, in essence, allows people to make super outlandish claims that usually contradict common sense/moral norms that our country has stood for for centuries, all because of someone’s “my truth.”

But as I sat there in my annoyance, I began to have a realization: sharing my own lived experience with anorexia was the entire reason I started this blog eight years ago back in February 2015.

You see, back in 2015, there just weren’t any resources out there for those in recovery or their loved ones, other than Portia Degeneres’ incredibly triggering book: Unbearable Lightness. So I wanted to provide an unfiltered, raw and oftentimes disgracefully honest glimpse into what anorexia actually is like for those suffering, so as to offer insight for loved ones who are unable to reach their struggling daughter.

So I started my blog. And for the first 4 months or so, I wrote it like a book: Documenting how it developed, what it was like, the destructive mental tapes running through my head, inpatient treatment, recovery, relapse and finally true recovery. And yeah, a lot of it is incredibly dark. But that’s the reality of an eating disorder: is that it is allowing your disorder of despair to overtake who you are, what you believe, how you think, the way you act and who you want to become. It overtakes you: mind, body and spirit.

And realizing this, I came to the conclusion that I can’t scoff at NEDA Week’s theme this year, focusing on lived experiences, because that’s exactly what I’ve been doing all along. Hello Pot, meet Kettle.

You know, I do think that God allows us to go through things so as to help others. Not that that’s the purpose for going through trials and tribulations…but I do think that when we surrender our cross to Him to redeem, that He places an unquenchable desire in our hearts to share what He has done for us, so as to help others in the same situation.

I remember staying up until 3–4 in the morning night after night when my blog was starting, because I just couldn’t get the words out fast enough. I allowed that flood gate to open — which I had bottled up for almost eight years — and the words just flew onto the page faster than I could type.

I wanted to provide the answers that my loved ones desperately were searching for — and unable to find — when I was going through it. They would always tell me how helpless they felt, watching me waste away right in front of their eyes, yet no matter what length or what end-of-the-earth they went to to find solutions or to get through to me, they just couldn’t.

So if I could prevent that for even one family and one sufferer…then I knew that what I was doing was good.

I want to close tonight by sharing a brief memory from inpatient that I think encapsulates something very important that is never talked about in recovery circles.

Going to inpatient, while it didn’t cure my eating disorder…it did save my life. And it did open my eyes the hardest truths of eating disorder recovery:

Recovery is not a sure bet.

And reading that on an ED recovery blog is probably not what you were hoping to hear. But I’ve never been anything but honest with you. Allow me to expound upon that upsetting truth.

Inpatient was like some sort of jarring vortex. There were all these women — from me at 18 to others in their 50s and 60s — who were all in this kindergarden-like environment. We couldn’t watch TV or do anything with even the slightest hint of physical activity, and of course, no going outside. Most books and magazines were considered contraband, and so we had to find ways to occupy ourselves in this rec-room (complete with cubbies) all day. And so you had these grown women coloring in coloring books, doing arts and crafts, playing cards and other board games, reading Highlights (yes the magazine at every pediatric dentist’s office in the nineties) or reading the Bible. It was a very surreal experience.

But like I said, there were women who were there in their 50’s. And, attending group therapy sessions with everyone 3 times a week, I definitely got to hear these women’s stories and the trauma or abuse many often suffered. Many of them had been in and out of inpatient treatment facilities for their entire lives. Some battling anorexia or bulimia for over 40 years. Forty years.

So heart breaking.

And being the youngest in the clinic, they all would tell me, “You’re lucky to have ‘caught it’ early so that it doesn’t take over and ruin your life. You don’t want to be like me…”

Recovery from an eating disorder is not guaranteed.

And if I were trying to muscle it out all by myself, I’m sure my story would look a lot different.

But the fact of the matter is, you’ve got to find strength to recover from someone or something other than yourself. Because on hard days when the rubber meets the road, no “mantra” or positive self talk, no meditation practice or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) exercise is going to push you over the finish line to stick with your recovery. Not when those days hit when you’re at the end of your rope….and those days definitely happen.

The only way I have maintained my recovery is that I surrendered it to Christ.

I knew that my human weakness was no match for the eating disorder. If left to my own devices, I would have found ways to skirt the system and to sneak little pieces of my eating disorder back into my life. That’s a humbling thing to admit.

It is only through placing my entire recovery — and my entire life — into the hands of Jesus, that I have found true healing, true recovery.

Because a recovery rooted in Jesus is unshifting. It’s stable. It isn’t reliant upon my own emotions or whims or dedication or strength. It is founded upon a firm foundation: one that is rooted in THE Truth…not “my” truth. THE Truth that says I am loved. I am forgiven. I am known. I am worthy of recovery. I am redeemed. I am free.

Because on those hard days, I know that He is carrying me through them. Not me – not my strength or will power…only His. Even if I’m only hanging on by the microscopic-ist of threads…His strong, study Hand upholds me.

The fact of the matter is that every single day, I have to wake up and choose recovery. I have to choose to say, “Lord, today I choose You.” Because anything other than totally and completely choosing Him is choosing ED…choosing the enemy.

Recovery is the greatest blessing of my life.

And though this trial has taken me to the depths of the depths and nearly cost me literally everything…God has taught me some of the most important lessons I will ever learn…lessons that my salvation depends on. Namely: learning to trust and depend wholly on God.

I am nothing without Him. My recovery is non-existant without Him.

And that is what they don’t tell you at inpatient. That is why people are struggling with 40 years of strangulation by ED. Is that at the end of the day, the one and only place to find freedom is in the loving, forgiving arms of our Lord.

To hear my story, click here.

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36 responses to “Hard Truth: Recovery is Not Guaranteed”

    • thank you Ims πŸ™‚ 133 days! that is truly something to celebrate. praying for you! πŸ™‚ Hugs and love xox

  1. Wow, you are such an amazing, strong woman, Caralyn! I love the photo of you and Steven, frame it. β€οΈπŸ™πŸ»

  2. “The fact of the matter is that every single day, I have to wake up and choose recovery. I have to choose to say, β€œLord, today I choose You.” Because anything other than totally and completely choosing Him is choosing ED…choosing the enemy.”

    Wow, C! That was awesome! And very humbling and convicting. That would apply to many areas of this life. Not choosing Him is choosing the enemy. Thanks for that.

    But I disagree with the humble pie thing. What the world does and says with “my truth” and their “lived experiences” is to somehow give credence to their twisted way of thinking. Like whatever they come up with is just as valid as what God says. And that’s crock.

    What you do and have done by sharing your lived experiences is to tell the truth, as raw and dark as it may be, and to show that only God can handle the messes we make. I’m so glad He impressed on you the desire to share what He brought you through. You have been and continue to be a great instrument He chooses to work through. πŸ€—πŸ™πŸ’›

    • Thank you Kenneth for this powerful encouragement. you’re right about that – society tends to twist “lived experiences” into validating truths that go against God’s word. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, so thank you. And gosh, I am humbled by your kind words. God is good. hope you have a wonderful weekend. Hugs and love xox

  3. Well said; you have a gift for communicating. Keep telling your story. Keep looking to the Lord. Your story and your focus on your faith is what all addicts, of all types, need. Continue to walk in faith and thanks for all of the stories.

    • Thank you David! i really appreciate this generous encouragement. Amen – we must continually chase after God. πŸ™‚ Hugs and love xox

  4. Great post! And I think your spot on about the “woke” word salad jargon that we too often hear these days. So don’t be too hard on yourself! πŸ™‚ One day you’ll know how many other people you’ve helped.. Keep it up.

    • Thank you Myron! I really appreciate that – you’re right … that word salads that we are being served these day!!! πŸ™‚ hehe i’m humbled by your kindness. Hugs and love xox

  5. I love this!! β€œBecause a recovery rooted in Jesus is unshifting. It’s stable. It isn’t reliant upon my own emotions or whims or dedication or strength. It is founded upon a firm foundation: one that is rooted in THE Truth…not “my” truth. THE Truth that says I am loved. I am forgiven. I am known. I am worthy of recovery. I am redeemed. I am free.”

    It is only through Jesus that I am free today! It is only when we walk our identity as a child of God that we will be an overcomer of our past! I appreciate your honesty and realness.

    I see in my life how God used all I went through for His Glory and to help lead others to redemption.

    • Hi Deeds! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad this resonated with you! amen! He brings true freedom! I’m so glad you have experienced that too!! πŸ™‚ sending big hugs and love xox

    • Thank you Mark, gosh – what a kind thing to say. I appreciate the encouragement. It definitely is scary to stand up for faith these days! God is good! Hugs and love xox

  6. Praise God for you. Christ is the only one who can give total recovery.

    I came across a girl on TikTok, she is struggling and seem to be suicidal from her post. She said, she can’t because of her mom and brother. Is there a way you can reach her? This is her TikTok @parispoptart
    God bless you.

  7. I’ll still agree with your word salad complaint. This is corporate speak and not written in plainer language. Accurate? Yes. But it requires to much unpacking to get to its meaning, hence your reaction. Your writing accomplishes what their word salad does not – it speaks most directly to people, which is why you have the following you do.

    I remember how your writing captured me and how I started at the beginning, reading several posts each night. When I finally caught up I was disappointed at not being able to read a new post every night in my hotel rooms. No corporate speak. Just bare, honest communication.

    • Hi Jeff! Thank you — I agree: these wok word salads are getting more and more commonplace. On the receiving end, you feel like you’re just being shoveled some emotionally manipulative powerpoint presentation. and gosh, thank you for your wonderfully encouraging words. I am humbled by your kindness. I crave honesty in life. I’ve always written how I would want to be spoken to, like a conversation with a friend. Who wants to read something meant for the masses?? You have been such an incredible source of positivity and a wonderful friend, Jeff. I’m very grateful for you! hope you have a relaxing and wonderful weekend, my friend. hugs to you and your girls! xox

      • You too. And I must say what a blessing your blog continues to be. Today I had a great conversation with Stacey, who gave a comment I made to you and then visited my site. This is the third Christian friend I’ve made through B3, including David’s Daily Dose, and Kenneth.

      • oh my gosh that makes my heart so warm to hear!!!! thanks for letting me know πŸ™‚

  8. Super powerful. Other comments clearly disagree but I think we are too quick to label things as ‘woke word salads.’ Which words we use may change, but ultimately sharing stories (or ‘lived experiences’ or ‘our truth’) is powerful. Sharing stories breaks the cycle of shame and allows people to heal. Your blog is proof of that.

    • Thank you Dan for sharing your heart on this! I do agree — sharing our story is powerful indeed. It brings people together and — yes. It definitely promotes healing. I would have to say that by sharing what I went through, it has brought even deeper healing for my family, as well as a greater understanding to something that I had suppressed deep in my heart. And by unearthing it and bringing it into the light for Jesus to redeem, I have been given greater healing as well. so glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

    • thank you Louie! you’re right about that — different manifestations but the same struggle…and the same solution/healing/freedom in Christ! so glad you stopped by. appreciate you. Hugs and love xox

  9. What a beautiful post! Truth for every single one of us who has ever struggled with any addiction – even daily sin. Only the grace of Jesus makes life possible. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • thank you Laura, what a kind thing to say. you’re right – only Jesus makes it possible!!! appreciate the encouragement! Hugs and love xox

  10. Thank you, Caralyn. I remember when I found your life-giving site many years ago. You had not yet revealed your identity; however, you shared (with every post) your heart. And that is how I will always think of & see you. ❀️ You are more than your ED which is exactly what you humbly share each and every time you post. And that honesty has “awakened” many to a call for Christ in their life, especially in their quest for “recovery” – no doubt whether suffering from their own illness or suffering as a loved one painfully standing nearby. Both sides of that “aisle” need Him. Hugs to you for always bringing Him into our midst. 😘

  11. The title is very apt. Recovery isn’t a guaranteed thing. It takes a lot of hard work, discipline, etc. There is no doubt that you’ve worked hard to be at the place you are now and you can thank God for giving you that strength and guidance. As long as you trust him and his word in everything, you can’t go wrong.

    • Thank you friend – you’re right about that: you’ve got to surrender it all!! With God all things are possible! Hugs and love xox

  12. Your words apply more broadly than you could ever imagine! Lasting victory over darkness in my own life came with total surrender too, the kind of surrender that even had to let go of my own perceived β€œright” to resist or reason my way own way out. There is no way I could have won that battle in my own strength! I had to release it ALL into the hands of Jesus. That Hebrew verb for β€œbe still” in β€œbe still and know that I am God” actually means to release or slacken your grip on something. That spoke so powerfully to me! Victory only comes when we let go and put it all in the hands of the One who has already overcome!

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