See if you can find where you are in this design.
People call and write me, sharing their pain, hope and frustration as they look for a way out of an eating disorder and into a life of freedom. In looking for various structures that can help them see where they are in their eating disorder experience I came upon the basic and familiar outline of a classic play. A classic play consists of Act I, Act II, Act III.
The plea for help from a bewildered and frightened person struggling to find release and recovery from an eating disorder, in my immediate way of thinking, comes from Act II. We can't skip Act II. And just about any playwright will tell you Act II always gives the writer, the producer and the director trouble. Are you in Act II of your recovery?
You live a life "normal" to you with an ongoing eating disorder. The eating disorder is part of your way of life and helps you cope with your daily challenges. By the end of your Act I your normal way of living doesn't work anymore. Your eating disorder symptoms escalate or collapse. Either way, you can't live the way you lived anymore. Now you set out for your recovery path.
End of Act I. Sound familiar?
With pain and fear you strike out to discover your way to recovery. Your failures increase. Your attempted solutions don't work. You reach out for help. Some helpers give you valid guidance. Some so called helpers exploit you. Some helpers believe they are giving you good suggestions out of ignorance and their advice is neutral or harmful. Some helpers give you excellent guidance you are not ready or able to take in.
The balance of your life was based on the presence of your eating disorder. Without it your life flounders in unexpected ways.
With it the consequences become more dangerous and costly. Partial measures (that you believe are the most you can do)
offer false hope and eventually fail. Your crises, painful though they may be, are more apparent than ever and more profound than you appreciate.
End of Act II. (second acts are hard to write and harder to live.)
You face the enormity of your task and go for it. You rally courage and learning from previous steps and commit to the unknown healing and way of life healing brings. Sell out options are not possible.
With a final, courageous and determined effort you grasp your freedom and make wise choices. Plus, you are brave enough to follow through. The reality of the world opens up to you. You see it and feel it whether you like it or not. You use your
knowledge and skills (much of which you learned and gathered in Act II) to make your way in life your way based on your authentic self and the signals you receive and sense that come from health. You meet your challenges and honor your life.
The end. This is where the play ends. But this is where your new life in recovery begins and continues.
What Act are you in?
When I got this insight I felt like I hit a revelation for me. I said outloud, "Oh my gosh. I don't want to die in the middle of Act II!" And then I realized, based on what I'm doing in both my personal and professional life, including writing my book, that I am in my Act III at last.
Please remember, we can't skip Act II. But we don't have to stay there. We can finish it and move to our Act III.
Here's a production from the University of Michigan. From this perspective we can't tell which act is being performed Looked at from the individual perspective that we are exploring, a person could be in her act one while she is relating to another who is in her act two or three. This raises some interesting questions about ourselves and the people we associate with. We can learn from everyone, regardless of what act they are in if everyone is committed to growing and seeing their inner dramas through to resolution.