(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)

During my recovery, I knew I was taking steps forward, but sometimes it felt like I wasn’t moving at all. I had a hard time seeing progress when it seemed like I was mostly working on learning to eat and handle difficult feelings. Plus, I wanted to be done already! I wanted recovery now!


So to help me stay focused on taking positive steps and to see the progress I really was making, I created lists of goals for myself: short term (from one day to two weeks) and long term (anything over three weeks). Then, to help me achieve those goals, I listed the steps I would need to take to accomplish each one.


Putting it all down on paper made the steps to recovery feel real and within my grasp. Checking off each step to a final goal gave me the inspiration and confidence to keep going. I could see the progress I was making, even if I couldn’t feel it.


Having a “plan” was especially helpful when Ed would start in on me. I had concrete things to work towards, to visualize as aspects of my new, healthy life. And when I achieved them, I knew I was moving forward and kicking Ed’s butt. That put a smile on my face!


I utilized my treatment team, friends and family to help me come up with a list of goals, along with the steps necessary to achieve each one. Here is an example of one of my goals and steps I took to get there:


Goal: Eat a fear food

Steps to achieve the goal:

  1. With support (from my nutritionist, Amy, and Rachel), make a list of fear foods
  1. Pick one fear food and select which meal or snack (the next day) I will eat it
  1. Ask Rachel to come to the grocery store with me
  2. Hold, touch and purchase fear food
  3. Prepare fear food with Rachel
  4. Write in journal to express feelings before eating
  5. Ask Rachel to sit and eat meal with me
  6. Use positive self-talk, dogs as a distraction, and conversation feelings around completing the goal

during meal

  1. Eat and savor fear food
  2. Journal, talk to Rachel and/or call therapist to express
  1. Make commitment to complete goal again
  2. Success! Yeah!

Validating your progress in recovery is empowering. Setting goals and achieving them is a great way to see that movement and feel that power. Make a list of goals for your recovery. For example, you might want to make an appointment with a nutritionist or therapist, eat a fear food or 100% of a meal, practice self-care, or buy something for yourself. Then, with a member of your support team (family, friend or professional) brainstorm on the steps to achieve that goal. Get creative and push yourself. Don’t hold back. Then commit to a goal and show Ed you are strong, you don’t need him, and you deserve recovery. What will your next step be?


With health, hope and strength… Cheryl