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Radical Acceptance

In the partial hospitalization program I went to in the beginning of my recovery we were taught many different coping strategies. We were taught DBT skills (dialectical behavior therapy) to help deal with the urges and distorted thinking that comes along with an eating disorder. Many have been very helpful for me, however there was one that always set me off. "Radical Acceptance" was a DBT skill that I was always quite offended by. Whenever my therapists would suggest trying radical acceptance I would get pissed off and be done with the session. Radical acceptance is exactly what it sounds like- accepting the situation for what it is and stop responding to it in a negative way. I always perceived this skill as someone telling me to "just get over it." To me, if everything could be solved with radical acceptance then there was no need for me to be in therapy. I took it the same way I take it when someone says "just relax" when they find out I am anxious, or those very "special" people that exist in the world that say that people with anorexia just "need to eat something." I didn't find it helpful whatsoever and openly thought it was the dumbest skill on the list.

However, over the years I have found situations in my life to utilize this skill. For example, when my mom started dating again and I was struggling to accept it, I eventually resorted to radical acceptance. My negative responses to the situation were doing nothing to help either of us navigate the new reality. The only thing I could do was accept the discomfort of the situation and work through it as best as possible.

This past weekend I had another moment in my life where radical acceptance was the only DBT skill to deal with the situation at hand. I encountered a scale. Even at my strongest, fighting the urge to step on a scale when given the opportunity is very, very difficult, but when I am in my weakest moments it is near impossible. Without much thought, I stripped down to my undies and stepped on, bracing myself for what I would see. After many weeks of engaging in eating disorder behaviors I expected to see something that reflected such behaviors. When I didn't, I was shocked and confused. In that moment, the stupid and offensive DBT skill that I had spent years bashing in therapy sessions had stepped up and hushed the voice of ED. In the past, this exact situation would have made me believe that "I was not restricting enough, I needed to find more ways to cut back", but this time was different, and I thank God for that!

This time I really started to think and reflect. The past few weeks I had been so exhausted from lack of nutrition that doing the bare minimum in the day wiped me out. My brain was constantly consumed with thoughts of food and body checks that I hadn't had time to think about anything else. All of these things were happening that I didn't enjoy and nothing was changing the number on the scale. Instead of thinking "I need to try harder" I thought "then what am I doing this for?" I realized in that moment that I could continue to engage in behaviors and be tired, sick, and a bore to be around or I could put in the work to eat to my meal plan and enjoy life. My body in that moment was telling me that what you see is what you get. Abusing my body was not getting the "desired result."

I continued reflecting that night about why the number on the scale even matters. I preach to everyone I love that the number on the scale doesn't matter, it doesn't define you, it is no measure of who you are. I need to preach this to myself.

Then I found this affirmation that really hit my soul:

"Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are"

I read it over and over because it really reminds me that my body deserves my love because I have put it through hell and it has not given up on me.

Does this mean that I am suddenly not struggling with urges and distorted thoughts? I WISH! No, I am still battling those every single day, the difference now is I am motivated and have the energy to fight back.

<3 Stay Strong and Beautiful

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