Healthy Coping Skills: A Reminder

One the first blogs I wrote was about surrender twice . Surrender is integral to working the 12 steps of any anonymous program. Surrendering my ‘control’ over food is my surrender today and every day I live in recovery.

Yesterday was not a day of recovery for me. It was not a day of surrender for me. It was a day of being taking back my perceived power. It was me thinking I can have ‘just a bit’ of this and ‘just a bit’ of that.

It is a truism of recovery that remains true for me today as it did when it first manifested in my life:

My disease is doing push-ups while I am working my program.

The moment I stop working my program, disease moves in and set ups shop in my heart and mind. I begin to think I am exempt from abstaining from my compulsive food behaviors. I begin to think I can nibble while cooking, that I can eat spoonfuls while hiding, that I can obsess about getting more and more and more. I begin to think that a little bit more won’t hurt.

This thinking always ends where it ended last night: hiding in the kitchen eating myself sick.

Yes, I was upset yesterday about my therapy work to heal from sexual trauma. Yes, I was upset, and I chose to take comfort in food instead of in the healthy coping skills I have learned while in recovery and therapy.

So I remind myself of the coping skills that WORK for ME:

  • Art Therapy – drawing, coloring, playing with clay or play dough
  • Writing – journaling, step writing; I was going to include therapy writing, but I realized writing about my rape recovery work triggers me. So for me, writing for sexual healing will now be done when feeling stable, not edgy.
  • Yoga – being on the mat is so freeing and integrative for me
  • Talking – calling trusted friends and family, talking to my husband, talking to sponsor
  • Sleep – my self destruction typically calls to me at night, so sleep is a powerful coping skill. I sometimes find it hard to sleep, so I take melatonin as needed.
  • Screaming – I can do this in the car. Good skill for me. I haven’t ever used this at night, but it is a good idea that just came to me. If my husband is home, I can leave our kid with him and drive around to scream.
  • Prayer & Meditation – I am surprised and not surprised this is not higher on the list. When I started rape recovery work earlier this year, the influx of memories dimmed my connection with my Higher Power, my source of comfort. When I stopped the work, Higher Power slowly came back to me. And now restarting the therapy work once more dims the connection. Happily, I learned from my experience earlier this year that the connection is not broken, it is simply dimmed. Only continuing recovery work will heal the connection completely AND heal me.

Overall, I learned a lot this year. And like so much in life, I may have to relearn certain lessons from time to time. Yesterday, I relearned my powerlessness. Yesterday, I relearned the essential power of working the steps and being in contact with my sponsor – especially when my Higher Power connection isn’t strong – like now. I hadn’t fully admitted to myself that my connection is dimming again, so the realization of this fact is important. Again, I will incorporate the ‘acting as if’ methodology into my life. And once again, I remind myself that this too shall pass.

What shall not pass is the fact that I am powerless over food. What shall not pass is the fact that working my program and being in contact with my sponsor sustain me in times of spiritual cloudiness. What shall not pass is that fact that I am a compulsive eater, can not manage my own life or my food. What shall not pass is the fact that I am loved, and I am lovable.


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