Transparency in Recovery

Those entering recovery embark on a new journey. Feeling like a different person, they experience original thoughts and perspectives, new goals for their lives, a healing body and a renewing spirit. It is a time of challenges and individuality. Most of all, it is a time of unknowing.

Transparency in recovery implies openness and communication with vulnerability. Accountability is paramount as is conducting oneself in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. This form of transparency builds trust.

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Why is this important? Many of those I work with have lived with the pull of the eating disorder longer than they can imagine having recovery. They want recovery. They want a better, different, more purposeful life. This desire leaves them incredibly vulnerable to this introspective process.

Wanting to share their feelings with friends and family, without being judged, they ask themselves if others will understand. What if everyone expected them to be “fixed”?  And the ever-terrifying question they all face: what if I fail?

Transparency in striving to achieve recovery means allowing oneself to be honest and present with the unknown. At times it means trusting the experiences without certainty.  As someone once described to me, transparency is being visible to the beautiful truth of life. Both with highs and lows, successes and disappointments, transparency keeps the person honest and builds present-moment resilience.

Transparency for the support system, usually consisting of family and friends, is an invitation to be a part of the process. This includes the physical and emotional shifts and transitions. This experience is very new to both the person in recovery and her support system.  Both parties will not always have the right answer and will probably make mistakes. Communication is critical. Both sides must ask questions about the uncertainty, being curious, and be willing to share their thoughts with each other.

I hear many of the same questions from support systems. What do I say to them when they are sharing their thoughts and feelings? Do I tell them it will be okay, even if I don’t know it will be? Do I try to fix it?

It takes time for a person to become entrenched in an eating disorder; it takes time to recover. It is as simple as it is complex; it means to trust, to be present to the human experience of recovery. For so long the disorder dictated the relationship with the person, closing the door on the possibility of change, thus imprisoning the person deeper in the disorder.

For all individuals involved in the recovery process it is not a “one size fits all” approach, it is a process that requires an open mind and open heart, it is truly a day-to-day experience. If everyone shows up to the recovery process each day without an agenda or a set of requirements, maintaining a true sense of transparency, the recovery process will unfold and trusting this process is the best means to achieve success.