Recently there was a discussion in a Facebook group for ED caregivers about what recovery looks like. A lot of the answers were the same. Stable weight. Intuitive eating. Less reliance on meal plans. Reduced ED behaviors. Or being completely behavior free.
There were other answers too. Better answers. Happier answers.
More joy and laughter. Sparks of self-confidence and reduced anxiety. Better grades. More participation. Being able to go clothes shopping. Going out to eat. Enjoying pizza and cake at a birthday party. Asking for a specific treat from the grocery store.
Later as I was thinking about what recovery really looks like to me, it struck me that recovery looked like so many other things.
Recovery looks like the night before you’re supposed to admit your kid into residency and you just want to turn the car around. But you don’t.
It looks like hours spent with your kiddo and other families in the common room in between meals and programming, watching the same movie for the third time and wishing you all could just be at home.
It looks like the endless outpatient appointments, half-eaten breakfasts, and nights with little or no sleep.
Recovery looks like the statue that slowly takes shape from a solid block of marble after days and months of chipping away with a hammer and chisel. It looks like the skyscraper that emerges from a hole in the ground. So much cement, steel, and glass assembled over time and built to last forever.
In other words, it looks like hard work. Really hard work. The hardest work your kiddo and likely you will ever do.
To be sure, there is no recovery without hard work. It doesn’t just happen. It requires effort and trust. Trusting in the plan. Trusting in your team. Trusting that your kid will buy-in and have that epiphany that they can live free of ED and shape the life they want.
Recovery looks like a teenager with a toolbox, determination, and a future that belongs to them and them alone.
Recovery is real. I see it every day.
About the Author
The author is the parent of a child with an eating disorder and walked with his child through treatment at Veritas Collaborative. He is now on a mission to give a voice – and an honest perspective – to eating disorder recovery. We encourage you to follow Dad Versus Eating Disorder on Twitter at @HopefullDadNC for more first-hand thoughts, insights, and resources related to eating disorders recovery.