by Judy Krasna, F.E.A.S.T. Board Member and Volunteer
I am really looking forward to FEAST of Knowledge this weekend, so much so that I am considering attending the first part live, even though the program starts at midnight on Saturday in Israel.
I have an admission, though. I am a little bit nervous about attending the panel presentation on recovery titled “Stories of Hope and Inspiration—Recovery is Possible!” The topic is extremely relevant, the speakers are fantastic, the stories are sure to be powerful, and the take-away of never giving up hope is something that keeps all parents going throughout the worst of times.
That being said, as someone whose daughter has been affected by an eating disorder for the past 13 years and shows no signs of recovering, I find that for me, these presentations have me straddling the fence between tease and promise.
I love eating disorder recovery stories. I find them inspiring. They empower me. They give me hope and fill me with resolve to never give up on my daughter; not that I have considered it for a second, but still, the reinforcement doesn’t hurt. Hearing firsthand how recovery is possible at any age, after any duration of illness, is comforting. Hearing that recovery can happen at any moment, even when it’s improbable, is encouraging. Knowing that there are clinicians who do not give up on their patients, and who are truly invested in their recovery, is reassuring. Stories of recovery lift my heart, soothe my soul, and dare me to dream of my own daughter’s recovery, and of her reclamation of the life that she was meant to lead.
At the same time, stories of recovery strike a chord of sadness inside of me; because as happy as I am for the people who have recovered, and for their loving families, my daughter seems so far from that point. And listening to stories about recovery can sometimes leave me with a sense of emptiness and disappointment; because as much as I believe in the promise of my own daughter’s recovery, and I do believe in it with all of my heart, I know that it may be an unfulfilled promise. Understandably, that devastates me. It rips my heart out.
The hope that my daughter will fully recover is a double-edged sword that teases me with fierce cruelty since her recovery seems so elusive; and yet, it offers me the fulfillment of my most fervent wish and desire. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that is simultaneously exhilarating and dreadful. I can’t separate the tease from the promise; they are totally intertwined.
Despite my own ambivalence, I am pleased that “Stories of Hope and Inspiration—Recovery is Possible!” is part of the FEAST of Knowledge program. We need to keep our eye on the prize, and recovery is the prize.
I always walk away from listening to someone’s recovery story with some bit of practical guidance that I can use with my own daughter. I strongly believe in the power of lived experience to teach valuable lessons and to offer relatable and relevant messages that are extremely useful to loved ones in support roles. I know that I am going to gain insight, understanding, and wisdom about recovery from the panel at FEAST of Knowledge. And I know that it’s going to give me hope, strength, and the resolve to keep fighting for my daughter’s recovery, as elusive as it may seem.
I encourage all parents to believe that recovery is possible. Despite the lengthy duration of my daughter’s illness and the infuriating hold that her eating disorder has on her, I believe that she, and everyone else, has the potential to recover. I hold out relentless hope that one day, she will break free of the chains of her illness and start living a happy and fulfilling life. I believe that my hope has a positive impact on my daughter. I think it means something for her to know that though I am a pragmatic person who is grounded in reality, I am never, ever giving up on her recovery, even if it seems like a pipe dream. Maybe knowing that I hold hope in her recovery leads her to do the same.
When it comes to recovery stories, I am stuck straddling that fence between tease and promise, but that’s okay, I’m holding steady. My grasp is strong, I’m not going to fall. And if I can no longer straddle, if I have to choose a side, I am going to land on the side of promise and hope. Because even when it hurts, the thing about hope is that it also heals.