During my recovery from my eating disorder, I read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I believe it was my first self-help book. I’ll admit, I became a bit obsessed with all things Franklin-Covey. I read some of his other books. I bought the planner, and eventually, some good friends bought me a Franklin-Covey leather binder. Oh my, that was my prized possession for some time! I loved just going to the stores and looking at all the organizing stuff there was. I’m not even a very organized person, but if I could buy something for my planner, then by golly, I’d organize it.
I fell away from that type of intentional living. I’m trying to get back into it, but just like it was hard to break the binging and purging cycle, it’s hard to break or create any habit. They’re like these tracks that we’ve laid, intentionally or otherwise, and when we try to veer off them, things get bumpy. There are no well-worn grooves on this new path we’re trying to go down, and we can so easily slip back into the old ones.
Recovery must be intentional. You will not get to the other side without recognizing your self-sabotaging patterns, and throw a wrench in them. We usually use that idiom in the negative. Something’s working well and we caution, don’t throw a monkey wrench in the works! Well, guess what? Your habit — that’s negatively effecting your life — is working well. I had my ED down pat. I was good at it. It was how I did life.
Napping excessively and avoiding people become my modus operandi when I fall into depression. Something upset me recently and I came home and curled up in bed. Boom, just like that, I’m back!
We call them ruts for a reason. Merriam Webster notes that the word may have derived from the French route, which means road. Etymonline.com says that it was used to describe the tracks made by wheels some 300 years before we ascribed the figurative meaning of being stuck in a routine (another word related to route). I find that fascinating, but I’m a nerd who deals with words for a living. It’s great imagery, though. I guess it’s my country girl roots, but the ruts I see when I hear that word are in dirt.
That’s right, I grew up on dirt roads. On a dirt road, you can see ruts being created by the vehicle (probably a truck) in front of you as the dust cloud rises from their tires. No one rides your bumper on a dirt road, because you can’t see anything if you follow too close. You have to leave enough room for the “dust to settle” (I’m full of idioms today), and it helps to see the ruts. If they are deep enough, you have to drive right in them or completely around them. If your tires are just riding the edges, they will dip in and you’ll feel a loss of control in the process.
That’s recovery. That’s the intentionality required. You’re not going to accidentally start moving out of your ruts. You’re not going to gently swerve out of entrenched behaviors. And you certainly won’t ride on the edge without slipping back in. Oh, but you are going to slip back in from time to time. That’s how you learn where and what they are, though. You plot out your triggers, so next time you can avoid them.
You have to discover a new road. You have to form new tracks. It takes effort. It takes work. It takes time, and the thing that I struggle with the most, it takes forgiving yourself. Forgivness for riding along in those old grooves, for tipping over into them, for finding comfort there. Yes, forgiveness is necessary, because it’s as human as breathing to do the comfortable thing you know how to do. However, pushing beyond the easy into the intentional is the rewarding thing to do.
“Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”
― Stephen R. Covey,