(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:
- With support (from my nutritionist, Amy, and Rachel), make a list of fear foods
- Pick one fear food and select which meal or snack (the next day) I will eat it
- Ask Rachel to come to the grocery store with me
- Hold, touch and purchase fear food
- Prepare fear food with Rachel
- Write in journal to express feelings before eating
- Ask Rachel to sit and eat meal with me
- Use positive self-talk, dogs as a distraction, and conversation feelings around completing the goal
- Eat and savor fear food
- Journal, talk to Rachel and/or call therapist to express
- Make commitment to complete goal again
- 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