Contributor: Courtney Howard, B.A., Director of Operations & Business Development at Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope.
Eating disorders can make you question a lot about who you are and what matters to you most.
They can make you lose faith in yourself, your loved ones, and your higher power, as your eating disorder rules become the commandments by which you live.
In recovery, relearning how to trust on these different levels can be important for your own mental health while helping rebuild relationships that were damaged when you were sick.
Trusting Yourself and Living Intuitively
Eating disorders thrive on an individual’s self-doubt. While deep in your eating disorder, you likely not only lost trust in your body, but also in your own basic abilities, talents, and intuition.
Learning to trust your body again can be a long process when you have had an eating disorder, but it is key to full recovery. Eating intuitively is often the goal when first starting out in recovery, but it is often not realistic until you have come further in your relationship with yourself. This is why meal plans are encouraged during this time.
Similarly, it can be beneficial to start living intuitively. This means trusting your gut, listening to what your body and mind are telling you in certain situations. Living intuitively can relate to personal relationships, career decisions, life choices, and even deciding what coping skill to reach for when you are triggered in the moment. Getting in tune with what your basic needs are, including those that are unrelated to food, can be so affirming in recovery.
The more confident you become in yourself and your own self-love, the weaker your eating disorder voice will become.
Rebuilding Relationships with Loved Ones
By nature, eating disorders are very isolating. They are even compared to abusive relationships in the sense that an abusive partner will isolate you from your friends and family members until you feel dependent on them for everything. Eating disorders often do the same thing to your brain until you believe they are the only thing you can trust.
This can be especially true when loved ones realize that you are sick and want to help. Then it becomes loved one versus eating disorder, and until you are truly ready to recover, the eating disorder will always win that battle.
However, once you are in recovery, you can begin to rebuild your relationships and place the trust you put in your eating disorder back onto your loved ones. Similarly, they have probably lost their trust in you to a degree, since eating disorders are so secretive and probably led to dishonesty at one point or another. Showing them that you want to reach out and regain that trust on both ends of the relationship is the first step.
Reaching out to your support people when triggered can be immensely helpful and potentially prevent relapse. Placing trust in your support people might be most important when your eating disorder voice starts to creep in.
Meeting New People
Just as interactions with loved ones can be manipulated by your eating disorder, it can also feel scary to meet new people while struggling with disordered behaviors.
Social anxiety often co-occurs with eating disorders and can be especially prevalent when meeting new people. You might feel uncomfortable letting people into your life, even questioning their motives or letting your self-doubt project onto them by assuming they are judging you or don’t really like spending time with you.
In recovery, allowing yourself to meet new people and start new relationships, whether friendships or romantic relationships, can be empowering. It is still important to protect yourself from people who do not respect your boundaries or are not good for your recovery, but try to remain open to the possibility of meeting new people who love and appreciate the real you.
Trust in Your Higher Power
Whether you believe in God or a different higher power, you might have lost sight of this relationship while in recovery. Often, times you are struggling can be the hardest to keep faith in your higher power and trust that there is a larger plan. However, those are typically the times that you could benefit from this relationship the most.
Many benefit from rebuilding spirituality and letting that element of their lives back into their hearts in recovery. It might take time, but if your religion and/or spirituality has ever been important in your life, it can be worth exploring. Even if you maintained faith during your eating disorder, there are probably ways you can strengthen your relationship with your higher power in recovery.
Regardless of what form it takes, placing your trust back in the people and things that are going to build you up in recovery from your eating disorder can be empowering and support you on your journey. This begins with you, as you learn that you can trust yourself and your body despite what your eating disorder has been telling you.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
In what ways have you learned how to trust again while in eating disorder recovery? What has been most helpful in this aspect of your journey?
About the Author: Courtney Howard is the Director of Operations & Business Development at Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from San Diego State University, holds a paralegal certificate in Family Law, and is a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. After obtaining her certification as a life coach, Courtney launched Lionheart Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching in 2015 and continues to be a passionate advocate for awareness and recovery.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 18, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com