By Judy Krasna, F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
Two mothers are waiting outside of dance class. One mother says to the other, “Are you the mother of the girl who always falls?” The other mother responded, “No, I’m the mother of the one who always gets up.”
I don’t know the source of this, but I saw it on social media and thought that it was a really powerful way to reframe a situation.
Eating disorder journeys are rocky. The ground is uneven and challenging to navigate. The climbs are steep and exhausting.
Falls are inevitable. Sometimes it’s from lower ground, and other times it’s from higher ground, which hurts so much more.
Falls are disheartening. I used to feel like I was living a game of Chutes and Ladders, and that my daughter’s eating disorder would either be taking us up a ladder toward the win or dropping us unceremoniously down a chute back to a place where I had already been and hoped to never return to again. That feeling of falling was just horrific.
Falls are infuriating. Every millimeter of ground that we gained was so hard to conquer. Why is falling so easy while moving forward and staying upright is so hard?
I don’t know anyone who made it through the recovery process without any falls. Expect them. Cushion them to whatever degree you can. Accept them, even though it’s so hard to lose ground. Reframe them; getting up time and time again represents resilience, will, and fortitude. Yours and theirs.
Do you remember when your child was a toddler and just starting to walk? Remember how many times they fell down as they struggled to stay upright and move forward? Remember how you had to hold their hand as they walked? Back then, we never had any doubts about whether they would stop falling. We knew that falling was part of the process, and that they would overcome it. We were confident that in time, our child would walk without stumbling. It may seem like a giant leap of faith right now for some of you, but I encourage you to envision that toddler. Then take that leap and believe that even though your child may be falling down a lot now, it’s part of the recovery process; eventually, they will stop falling.
I believe that it’s not about how many times your loved one falls, it’s about how many times they (and you) get up. It’s about hope. It’s about believing that the day will come when the falls will end and the ground will become smooth and even, with an end to the journey in sight.
I know so many recovered people who fell time and time again throughout their journey. They fell often, and they fell hard.
And they recovered.
Be the parent of the one who always gets up, especially when you feel like the parent of the one who always falls. In my experience, that little nuance, that small adjustment in perspective, can go a very long way, especially on a very long journey.