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Gratitude for Lessons Learned Through Recovery

Posted October 16, 2017 by by Jennifer Lagimodiere

Gratitude for Lessons Learned Through Recovery Ever wonder what it’s like to be comforted by gradually piecing together a new found appreciation for something that once so aggressively tore apart your life and completely and utterly devastated you? To take every insurmountable step, leap and bound towards being grateful for the overwhelming and uncontrollable fear and anxiety that once left you paralyzed? To intentionally breathe in gratitude for the suffocating pain, hatred and hopelessness you once endured? Well, it just so happens I do and it was through my eating disorder recovery that I learned some pretty life-changing lessons which I couldn’t be more grateful for.

At first it might seem odd or even unimaginable to be giving thanks to something that caused so much grief and hardship in my life, but the truth and the beauty of it is that our biggest hardships and our scariest challenges, can actually be our greatest and most empowering gifts. There are endless opportunities to learn, to grow, to create and to change when you make the decision to choose recovery and face your fears. Is it easy? No. Is it pleasant? Absolutely not. Is it possible? YES! Is it worth it? 100%! Now it’s not just because I’m recovered that I can say I have this appreciation for my struggle, but rather the recovery process itself helped me to create this within myself. All the time, energy and hard work I spent facing each of my challenges helped me to believe and see firsthand how incredibly grateful I was, and still am, for having been presented with these tragic “gifts” in the first place. You see, these were fundamental life lessons that not everyone is fortunate enough to learn and definitely something you don’t take for granted once you’ve learned them.

For instance, if not for all the time I spent feeling weak, sick and having my physical health suffer, I would not be so grateful for my body’s strength and ability to move, walk, climb, swim, dance, balance, build, feel, touch, nourish, restore, revitalize, rest, breathe, heal and love.

If not for all the time I spent beating myself up and putting myself down, magnifying all of my smallest mistakes and mishaps, I would not be so grateful for my patience, compassion and making the time to celebrate myself, and every small joy, success and surprise that comes my way.

If not for all the time I spent living in fear, I would not be so grateful for the courage I possess and the assurance that came with knowing I was going to be o.k. with whatever I faced.

If not for all the time I spent crying, feeling sad and alone, I would not be so grateful for the tears I shed from the laughter I share with friends and family.

If not for all the time I spent missing out on things, withdrawn and isolating myself, I would not be so grateful for involvement, interaction, belonging, companionship, friendship, family, and all the new and exciting experiences that have come from that.

If not for all the time spent in my head, worrying about every single thing, important or not, that directly affected me or not, I would not be so grateful to practice mindfulness and the ability to be more present in my life as it is and in the lives of those around me.

If not for all the time spent hiding myself, putting on a mask or being fake, I would not be so grateful for vulnerability, authenticity and for uncovering and embracing parts of myself I never knew existed, but I’m truly glad they do.

If not for all the time spent dreading what the future would bring, I would not be so grateful for my imagination that allows me to envision my dreams and aspirations and for the goals I still want to pursue.

If not for all the time I spent feeling hopeless, I would not be so grateful for the hope and optimism I have instilled in myself which allow me to be passionate about my life and to live it intentionally with meaning and purpose.

If not for all the time I spent doubting myself and my abilities, I would not be so grateful for what it truly feels like to be confident, to feel capable, to trust myself and to believe in myself.

If not for all the time spent being rigid and trying to control things, I would not be so grateful for flexibility, spontaneity and for the realization that no matter what happens in my life I can still choose to be in control with how I react to the situation.

If not for all the time I spent in my “comfort zone”, I would not be so grateful for taking chances and striving for an overall state of well-being.

If not for all the time I spent at war with myself, hating and feeling disgusted with myself, I would not be so grateful for feelings of peace, tolerance, acceptance and self-love.

If not for all the time I spent putting pressure on myself and setting unrealistic expectations, I would not be so grateful for knowing that when I try my best, that is enough; I am enough.

If not for all the time I spent in a world engulfed in black and white thoughts, I would not be so grateful for my search for and my ability to create color.

If not for all the time I spent pleasing others, I would not be so grateful for the time I selflessly spend caring for myself and asserting my own needs.

If not for all the time I spent lying to myself and others, I would not be so grateful for honesty and truth.

If not for all the time I spent being consumed by past regrets and blaming myself for creating my problems, I would not be so grateful for the understanding that an illness like an eating disorder is not a choice and that self-forgiveness can promote healing.

If not for all the time I spent holding on so hard to all the wrong things, I would not be so grateful for the ability to let go and to fiercely embrace all the things that were right.

If not for all the time I spent saying no to things I wanted to say yes to and yes to things I wanted to say no to, I would not be so grateful for trusting my heart, linking my decisions to my values and for doing what’s ultimately right for me.

If not for all the time I spent in chaos and being reckless, I would not be so grateful so balance and stability.

If not for all the time I spent feeling ashamed and fixated on my appearance, I would not be so grateful for discovering and owning the real beauty that lies within me.

If not for all the time I spent trying to be perfect, I would not be so grateful for all the things that make me unique, that make me real, that make me human, that make me, unapologetically, ME!

If not for all the time I spent feeling so helpless and thinking recovery was impossible, I would not be so grateful for having asked for help, allowing friends, family and professionals to provide me with the support I needed and that they gave so graciously and for the pure determination and perseverance that motivated me to never give up.

If not for all the time I spent feeling trapped, controlled and dependent upon the eating disorder, I would not be so grateful for my freedom and independence.

If not for all the time wasted, obsessing and ruminating, I would not be so grateful for time itself and how precious it truly can be.

If not for my eating disorder and completely losing my identity and self-worth, I would not be so grateful for having found myself, learning that I am worthy and I am more than my illness, discovering what my beliefs, interests and desires are, for standing up for what I believe in and for proudly becoming the person I was meant to be.

If not for the all the time I spent hating my eating disorder and trying to overcome all the challenges I faced in my recovery, I would not be so grateful for my life, my recovery, for these and many more valuable lessons I’ve learned and for the knowledge and insight I have gained that have profoundly enriched my life and continue to be a positive influence on my future.

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, remember that although it might not make much sense at the time when trying to figure out the reasons for your struggles, trust and believe that there are remarkable and extraordinary lessons that will be learned and will forever change you. Know that each of these lessons are truly gifts and the ones that will benefit you the greatest and make you most grateful for experiencing will come about while facing your toughest challenges. Stay the course, don’t give up, you can do this!