Last Thursday I was driving home and just sitting at a stop light, not thinking about anything. I went to change the song, and I realized that it was the 12th. I haven’t self-harmed in ten months, the 12th of June was my last time. And I sat there at that stop light, and I thought, “Wow I’m really about to hit a year. I’ll be a year clean.”
Finding Gratitude in Recovery
One thing I learned about recovering from self-harm (among other things) is that recovery (much like everything else in life) isn’t one big thing, it’s a million small things. Sometimes I’ll be out in public, and I’ll be on the verge of a panic attack, and I’m able to calm myself down by distracting myself or just talking to my boyfriend or grandma. I’m grateful that I’ve learned how to manage my anxiety.
I had to learn that every little thing in life counts because that’s where I find my joy. When the kids I work with all turnaround and say, “Good morning!” when I walk into the room, it’s a small thing that makes my day. Going to breakfast on Sunday after 8 a.m church with my grandma is something small that makes me feel like I’ve been given a gift I never deserved. Counting every little thing in my life that goes right (by some divine miracle) is how I managed the first few months. This just happened, I closed all the tabs on my computer while I’m typing this up and when I went back to re-open them all my writing was still there. By some miracle, I didn’t have to re-type this all up.
Making Milestones One Day at a Time
I’ve somehow made it day by day without self-harming. At first, it was mostly just counting the short-term goals. “Be clean for a week. Be clean for two weeks.” because saying, “Alright never self-harm for the rest of your life” was out of the question. Even as I’m writing this my mindset is still somewhat short term – I’m telling myself to stay clean for two months. Then it’ll be a year, and I’ll go out and have some pizza to celebrate.
The thing about my recovery is that when one part seems balanced, the other side isn’t. Gratitude for my eating disorder recovery is not easy. Seven years and it’s still a battle with calories and the calculator in my head whenever I eat. I can tell you this, I have learned how to be grateful that I can exercise like an average person once again. I used to work out for hours a day; now I can walk half a mile three to four times a week and be satisfied. I never thought this would be possible but it is, and I am grateful. Little milestones that turn into big ones are what my recovery has been about thus far.