Book writing as recovery journey
- Category: Psychotherapy and Recovery Work
Writing a book about eating disorder recovery seems to parallel the recovery journey itself.
Conari Press liked my book proposal and so did I. Now that I'm actually working on the book I feel that the proposal left out the heart and soul of recovery work. I'm rethinking and rewriting and expanding my overall plan so I have a work that integrates tasks, thinking, behaviors and heart and soul.
Well, that's the task of recovering from an eating disorder too. So I believe I'm on the right track. At least I'm on my track.
It would be so simple if we could just follow a list of tasks or exercises in a tidy order and reach our recovery. But anyone who has attempted this knows that it rarely works. You may get some real benefits from the tasks, but the eating disorder will still flare.
The logical work and the following of a treatment course needs to be integrated with heart and soul. Before that can happen we have to recognize, value and honor heart and soul. Before we can do that we may need some non integrated behavioral recovery.
For sustained and thorough recovery we need our minds clear so we can honor our deepest self. Eating disorder behavior distorts thinking. We need our deepest self to bring up our courage and life force. Eating disorder behavior blocks our access to our deep self.
So we can't focus on one or the other. Eating disorder recovery happens when we honor all aspects of ourselves and work to integrate as much as possible.
That's what I'm trying to do with this book too. This process mirrors recovery work.
In terms of mind/behavior and heart/soul have you had experience working on one but not the other? How did it turn out for you? Have you been able to integrate?
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The work I've done on mind/behavior and heart/soul has had such duality that I have despaired of integrating body/mind experience with spiritual insights. I could go on week long silent meditation retreats and believe that some genuine insight was manifested and then reattach myself to rigid food rules upon returning home. Likewise I could successfully change my eating behaviors and find myself in unyielding judgment and anxiety. The progress I've made in both areas has been real but, hard as it is to accept, integration of mind and heart is not under my absolute control. Everything comes into place but in a timing that isn't a carbon copy of the recovery described in my books. Giving myself credit and allowing myself joy for the small steps has been missing and is so essential. To be willing to live with less than perfect and to let myself rest in not-knowing is easy to be glib about but is wrenchingly hard to experience. Diane
You are on the path. The struggle you describe is a necessary part of the journey. As hard as it may be to accept, you are giving yourself the opportunity to integrate.
What happens, from my experience, is that integration isn't what we think it is. One and one is two. That's combining, but not necessarily integrating. Adding or mixing together isn't it either.
You are on track when you talk about allowing yourself joy for the small steps.
Spiritual insights can be wonderful. They can be like a lightning flash on a dark night where suddenly everything is illuminated. So we get a quick glimpse that
can guide our thinking, our behavior and influence our emotions. We still have to live out the many little moments of our life. We have to reconfirm, nourish, honor and tend what we experienced in that flash.
And that we do in the many little small steps, the many small tasks, even tiny tasks we don't even acknowledge yet.
It's a challenge to write or talk about these things. Sharing nonverbal experiences takes a lot of words!
Creating art is a way of resting in the not-knowing. You can create based on your feelings, principles and your knowledge of the medium. So your energy is directed. Yet the finished work can often be beautiful and a surprise because so many elements came together in ways that were not in your conscious awareness.
That's when you can get a clear experience who you are and what you can accomplish while you are in the not-knowing and not even know you are in the not-knowing.
Does this reach you? It's such a challenge to talk in an understandable way about these things.