Sometimes the biggest and worst feeling curve-balls from the universe are actually amazing opportunities to reframe your thoughts and move forward.
Yesterday, during my coincidentally perfectly scheduled treatment team, I found out that, as of that day, my insurance was no longer going to cover the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for eating disorders. The treatment team was surprised/outraged and offered suggestions, like getting a lawyer and trying to talk to the program administrators to see what kind of out of pocket rate I could get.
The news sent me into a bit of a tailspin, because I immediately tightly wrapped myself in all-or-nothing thinking. If I can’t “complete” the program, I will never get to have recovery. Without the support from this program, I will never be brave or strong enough to let go of my disorder, my crutch. I also very quickly found ways to blame myself for this happening. I didn’t progress fast enough. I’m not doing it right. I don’t deserve to be here, because I’m not sick enough. I’m not serious enough. Also, I felt if I wasn’t willing to rack up a huge bill, I must not want it badly enough. I amazingly see the distortion so clearly right now. All of these thoughts come from the single root: I am not enough.
But then something amazing happened (and I may have gotten a little push in this direction from my individual therapist), I realized that there is more than one way to skin a cat. My grandmother used to say that. As figurative speeches go, that one seems pretty gruesome, in retrospect. Then again, this process is not always comfortable, so it kinda feels appropriate.
Anyway, I had a couple of really big revelations. You might call them epiphanies. First, people recover outside of intensive outpatient programs all the time. Second, I have been using my required 10 hours of group a week as an excuse to talk the talk (because that’s what you do in group) instead of walking the walk. Third, and this is the one my therapist helped with a little, nobody leaves the program CURED.
This kind of program is supposed to give you a foundation to build on. Skills to apply. Tools to use. And as I ran through the gamut of emotions about this loss (because that is really what it IS), I was identifying the distortions and reframing the thoughts and figuring out what I needed and then asking for it. Suddenly, this gut punch felt like an amazing opportunity to move forward. To walk the walk. To honor the lessons I learned, the work I did and the relationships I built.
I can no longer say that I’m doing the work just by showing up at group and working through some theories. I actually have to REACH OUT and ASK FOR SUPPORT when I need it, rather than just rolling around in the safety net that is group therapy. I have to work on maintaining connections/relationships, because we’re not just going to see each other three times a week. I have to be authentic and assertive in real life, an uncontrolled environment.
As hard and sad as it is to say goodbye (actually see you later) to people you have become very attached to, we got to have an amazing closure group. It almost felt like a ceremony. And I truly got to see how far we all have come together. I get to take their voices with me, the voices that gently, caringly challenge me and question my distortions. I get to think about how much they all deserve recovery and self acceptance and support, how much I want it for them and how I can show myself that same kindness.
My only regret is not knowing what lessons I will be missing in the future. Other than that, I have gone from complete turmoil and desperation to calm confidence and clarity in just over 24 hours. If that is not an amazing glimpse of recovery, I don’t know what would be.