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What Does Courage Really Look Like In Recovery?

Often in my practice I prepare my eating disorder clients by letting them know they are about to start climbing mount Everest. I am not sure if you have ever watched a documentary on people who climb Everest but their approach from base camp to the top is very intentional and slow work. It is one foot in front of the other, but
sometimes each step seems to take quite some time. There are different obstacles they face along the way, some they may have anticipated and others they likely didn’t. From the looks of it, regardless of how much preparing they do, how much they may have studied, it is still an extremely difficult journey filled with many fears, some intimidating moments, lots of rerouting and, at the end, a sense of accomplishment and pride that nobody can take away.

Recovery is so much like this: filled with lots of different obstacles, often overwhelming and also, the most incredible achievement. It is a journey that requires a lot of patience and understanding that when you get set back it doesn’t mean you aren’t still making your way to the top of your Everest, you’re just taking a different route.

A wonderful client of mine, knowing my affinity for the Everest metaphor, sent me this quote she found.

“See, sometimes courage isn’t climbing Mount Everest or changing the world. Sometimes your mountain to climb is made up of weekdays and months, made up of pushing yourself forward even when you want to nestle into the past. Sometimes changing the world means changing your world, as gradually as you need to, as gently as you heal, because sometimes courage isn’t made up of war, and bloodshed; sometimes courage isn’t made of combat. Sometimes courage is a quiet fight, a dim softness within you, that flickers even on your darkest days, and reminds you that you are strong, that you are growing – that there is hope.” – Bianca Sparacino

I found it quite impactful and speaks to what courage often looks like in the recovery journey. Each day can be challenging, sometimes so much so that you may need to set up camp there for a day, week or month before you feel ready to take your next step. This is so normal in recovery and yet rarely do I meet people who give themselves the space and compassion needed for the (often) excruciating journey to the other side.

My recommendation is that you celebrate yourself and your journey and the courage it takes to wake up each morning and keep trying, regardless of how long it takes. Hold onto hope of reaching that summit; it is yours for the taking when you want it.

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