Sunday, January 5, 2014

Goal for 2014: Be Me-sponsible

It's a new year. And a lot of resolutions are being passed around with a slogan of "new year, new you." Most of these resolutions have to do with dieting, weight loss, exercising more... You get the picture. I for one am ridiculously sick of hearing and seeing all of those commercials advertising for these products "guaranteed" to change your life or the products that are shaming you for "indulging" over the holidays and convincing you that you need to lose those five pounds that you put on over the past month or so.

I'm over all of it. I didn't stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop because I was in bed by 11. I didn't make any New Year's resolutions because I know that I will not achieve them because honestly, who does? Also, it's not necessarily in my best interests to make resolutions right now. I was reading this blog post the other day about how resolutions can be kind of iffy in the world of ED recovery and that “Resolutions can trigger perfectionistic behaviors and all-or-nothing thinking. Recovery is a reality when we are compassionate with ourselves and focus on the thoughts and behaviors that are in line with what is satisfying for us, deep in our hearts.”

In treatment, I'm beginning to focus more on what I ultimately want out of my life--where I see my ideal self, what makes my life a life worth living. As a group, we're going through life values and setting goals in all aspects of life. And through this process, I have learned that a lot of my goals in the areas that I value can and will only be achieved once I have reached a healthy and recovered place in life. So individually, I've been working on developing this idea of recovery--what it looks like for me, what it means for me, what it is on a very operational level. And I think that article put it well:

Recovery is a reality when we are compassionate with ourselves and focus on the thoughts and behaviors that are in line with what is satisfying for us, deep in our hearts.

At this time of year, everyone around me is making New Year's Resolutions, mostly around eating less and exercising more and losing X pounds, in hopes of making their lives happier or themselves more successful or healthy or thinner or what-have-you. And I'm stuck in this place of trying to figure out what I want my recovery to look like, what I want my life to look like, who I, in a world without an ED, want to be.

Right now, New Year's Resolutions are not even on my radar. Resolutions are so final and not malleable. You set them and that's it--you either achieve success or failure. There is no in between, no middle ground, no grey area.

I've been spending my time making goals for myself--goals that involve having what we refer to in treatment as a "life worth living." Goals that involve going back to Gettysburg in the fall, having healthy and deep relationships, being recovered and healthy and not eating disordered. Goals of pursuing a PhD program in clinical psychology and eventually becoming and ED therapist, researcher, and activist.

It's unrealistic for me to achieve all of these things in the upcoming year, even if I break them down into smaller, more specific goals.

Life doesn't go according to my plans, I've realized. I will set goals and not achieve them. I will make plans and not follow through. I will not live up to my expectations. I will have bad days and lapses and relapses in recovery. I will fail and I will make mistakes. Becoming a better person, developing my character, recovering--all of these things take much longer than year.

And although I have been and will continue to set goals for the upcoming days, weeks, months, and year, I have no expectations of what the year will look like. Will I be back at Gettysburg in the fall? I don't know. Will I be "recovered" by the end of this year? I don't know. Will I know who I am and how I fit into this world? I have no idea. The only thing that I can be certain of is that life is filled with uncertainty. And I can make plans and goals and dreams, but there is only a minute degree to which I can control the environment around me.

What I can control is myself. I can wake up every morning with a fresh start for a new day. I can learn how to be more caring and compassionate to myself. But most importantly, regardless of the situation, I can live each and every day to a degree that satisfies my soul.

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. 
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.
So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.
Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever."
-- Neil Gaiman