The marathon of recovery

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
–Thomas EdisonThis isn’t an ode to Father’s Day post. I have issues with Father’s Day. I have issues with fathers. I plain have issues. But I digress. As I think I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m training for a marathon. In doing so, I complete a long run once a week where I train and add to my mileage. I will spare you the numbers, pace, speed, etc. I know many of you suffer with eating disorders, and I don’t want to trigger you. But I will say on my long runs there is ample time to reflect and think and meditate. (When I’m in the middle of a run I don’t often stop to take pictures, but today was different. Want to see where I meditate?)
Beautiful, isn’t it? Anyway, as I was running, it occurred to me how much recovery (from anything, i.e. eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, OCD, BPD) is like a marathon. Recovery is not a sprint, nor is it over once you are weight restored, followed your meal plan, been self-mutilation free, or sober for X amount of days. Yes, that is an accomplishment, but recovery isn’t over at that point. That’s when the marathon of recovery BEGINS. I was obsessively reading on-line recently that many runners train and race with injuries. (I’ve run on many aches and pains myself. I’m still waiting for the feeling to return to my legs after today’s run.) What I thought interesting about these runners was that they alter some aspect of their training to facilitate the healing of their injury. Maybe they include a few more rest days. Maybe they run their next jaunt a little slower. Maybe they do more physical therapy. But they do SOMETHING to ensure their health and their ability to continue to run. Why should recovery be any different? We may have sustained our own injuries along the way. Some of us may be injured by abuse, poor family dynamics, relationship issues, or whatever. Why should that detract us from our ultimate goal of recovery? If anything, these “injuries” should be learning experiences that help us see what in our training we need to tweak. Just like the runner, these moments provide reflection to see what aspect of our training we need to alter so that we may continue our marathon of recovery. Just like running, recovery also happens at different speeds. When I run a race, I make it a point to start out slow. I conserve my energy for later in the race when I’m getting weak and tired and need all the energy I can muster to complete the race. Sure, I will see people pass me in the beginning. That doesn’t mean they will run a better or more fulfilling race, because, experience has shown me, I will pass them later in the race since I’ve conserved my energy and they spent theirs in the beginning. Recovery is the same. We may see people who pass us on the journey. It might appear that it is easier for them to follow their meal plan or to make friends or talk about painful subjects. But that doesn’t mean their marathon is more productive or they’ll reach the figurative finish line before we do. It’s been my experience that those who jump at the start of the race gun end up burning out and relapsing. (My thoughts were so much more coherent and eloquent this morning when I was running. That’s what oxygenated blood flow and humidity will do for you.) The point I’m laboring to make is that recovery is a marathon. We are in a rigorous, demanding, and challenging training program to lead a life free from our disease, our obsessions, and our disorders. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of training to get recovery. But slow and steady wins the race. We may have to pace ourselves more than others. Take things a bit slower. But if we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we will eventually win the race. Now go get your run on.

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