In recovery from an eating disorder, we often find that we have lost ourselves to the ED. We don’t know what we are good at. We haven’t been allowed to be good at anything. We do not know what we like. Liking things was an indulgence that was for weaker individuals. We become the eating disorder. It dictates how we respond to events and what we actively create.
Recovery from an eating disorder, in a very real sense, is the recovery of our true self. We must face the question, if I am not my eating disorder, then who am I?
So how do you do that? There is a neat little exercise based in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that starts the process off nicely and simply. It is called “Who am I?” and it is simply filling out the sentence “I am _______________” about 45 times.
As simple as it is, it is one of the most difficult exercises a person will find. I remember my therapist giving me a similar assignment when I was in treatment. It took me about 3 months to fill out. Seriously, 3 months!
I started with “I am a daughter.” and that sentence alone started me on the path of figuring out who I am. I remember one night wanting to use behaviors but also being determined to be more than my ED. I decided to be a daughter. Very awkwardly, I decided to go watch an episode of House with my dad, who I was living with at the time. By the time the show was over and we had gotten done talking, the urges had passed. I was shocked but for the very first time, hopeful that something in my life was going to change.
What happens when you answer “I am__________.” How do you react to the activity? What do you answer?