By: Laura Deneen
As a little girl, I begged my parents to buy me a new bike that I had my eye on. It was decked out with pink streamers, glitter, training wheels, and a basket in which I could place my finest 5-year old gadgets and toys. As I remember, a few of these toys included a Polly Pocket Watch and my walking pony. Anyway, when I started riding that bike, I felt like I could do anything and be anyone. My twin brother and I raced along the driveway, pedaling as fast as our 5-year old legs could take us. You see, I wasn’t afraid as long as I had my training wheels promising to keep me afloat. One day, I tried riding without the training wheels in the grass. Fortunately, when I fell, the lush grass was a kind rescuer. On days when I was feeling more adventurous, I attempted the pavement. This did not go as well. There were many days when I came home with bruises or a scraped knee.
In the beginning stages of recovery, it may be difficult to follow meal plan, or it may be tempting to go back to eating disorder behaviors. (Like scraping your knee, falling, or not being able to maneuver your bike). Our culture is inundated with diets, restrictive eating, compulsive exercise, and fatphobia, and may be whispering lies in your ear that make it feel easy to abandon your recovery process. However, just like that little girl who was determined to learn to ride her pink bike without training wheels, you can also live in freedom from your eating disorder. “Falling off your bike” ....aka the process of learning what does and doesn’t work in your recovery process is a normal part of this work. What actually matters is that you give yourself the permission and freedom to put your helmet back on (very important) and get back on the bike. From a recovery standpoint, this would look like following your meal plan or eating intuitively (if that is where you are in this process), keeping appointments with your therapist, dietitian, and physician, and reaching out to your support network. Falling off your bike when you are in recovery is a part of the process. Each time you get back on the “recovery bike,” you are not only honoring yourself instead of the eating disorder, but also challenging its roots and loosening its grip on you.
Recently, I took a vacation to the beach and rode my bike everyday with my husband. As I breathed in the salt air, I remembered how much I loved my pink bike with streamers. I also recognize that this metaphor may not resonate with everyone, so I would encourage you to take with you what you can relate to, and to discover what you need to commit to your recovery process.
Sending you hope,
The clinicians of Anchored Counseling Co. are authors of the blog, which includes content on eating disorders and co-occurring issues.