This season is meant to be one of joy and celebration, and for many there are moments that match the hopes with true sentiment. Even so, a time of year with so much riding on it can lead to disappointment or disagreement, argument or worse. It's a time of year when people come together and families or groups cope with a host of mixed, often intense feelings.
For people in recovery from an eating disorder, this season brings a mixture of regret about the past and time lost and also hope for change in the future. Often surpassing the celebratory moments can be the extra pressure on recovery to somehow take a giant leap forward or even magically leave the struggle of the eating disorder thoughts and behaviors behind.
Clearly, the nature of recovery is neither kind nor forgiving. Progress comes from hard and steady work. Changing ingrained thoughts and patterns around food, a necessary component of survival, involves refashioning behaviors deeply imprinted in our most basic brain function. It's almost like learning how to walk again when every ounce of your body wants to sit forever. No holiday or new year will speed the process.
What this time can bring is the peace to find steady ground around those people closest to us. The antidote to an eating disorder is not strict rules or tough love but about connection, meaning and forgiving love. The way to find peace from an unrelenting eating disorder is to create a foundation of true connection and bonds. Those pillars limit the space for an eating disorder in one's life.
Although there may be a desire to push people away, the real benefit comes from knowing people are on your side. Feeling as if there are people supporting the cause can galvanize recovery and strengthen the sense of a healthy future more than anything else.