I've gotten back on track after my struggles a week or two ago, and it got me thinking about the idea of momentum.The first few days of getting used to eating on a regular schedule were really difficult--stressful and anxiety-provoking. But as these positive behaviors gained momentum, it became much easier. It's still not quite as easy as before I slipped a few weeks ago, but it's getting there.
Recovery behaviors have momentum, and so do ED behaviors. How many of us have done something "just once" and really, truly meant "just this once"? My hand is raised like Hermione's. But behaviors have momentum, and just once becomes just twice becomes a routine.
I picture behavior momentum as a hill: recovery behaviors are going uphill, ED behaviors going downhill. Illustrated as follows:
I'm thinking back to my college physics class (it was a nightmare even for geeky me, so I will try to keep this as short and basic as possible) when we studied acceleration and momentum. A few days ago, I bought one of those jumbo boxes of kitty litter at Costco, and pushed it out to my car in a shopping cart. The parking lot had a slight hill, and I had to really push hard at the cart to get it started up the hill. I was fighting gravity, and I had to accelerate the cart to get it up the hill. This required no small amount of effort, also considering I had other heavy stuff in the cart. But once I got the cart going--once it had a certain amount of momentum--pushing it up the hill wasn't particularly difficult. Turning or stopping were...interesting, but just pushing in a straight line was simple.
It's the same with recovery: once you push through the initial effort, recovery behaviors gain momentum. They get easier. It doesn't take the same amount of effort to do the right thing.
Relapse behaviors are going downhill. It takes much less to get that momentum building. If I had poised my cart at the top of a hill and just given it a nudge, it would have sped off on its own. And stopping a speeding cart would have been much harder the more speed the cart gained. So it goes with an eating disorder. Relapse takes less effort and is harder to stop. It tends to gain momentum much faster than recovery.
For some reason, having that visual image in my head has really helped me. It lets me stop fixating on why recovery is so damn hard and simply focus on pushing the massive box of kitty litter up the hill. It also makes me more cautious when I'm teetering at the top of the hill. Being close to speeding off is very different from, you know, actually speeding off. In the end, it's all about building the kind of momentum you want in your life.