Recovery Requires Bravery

“To try to be brave is to be brave.” –George MacDonald

Life outside of the eating disorder feels both scary and exhilarating. I’ve had to learn to adjust to and enter the “real world” outside of my own safe nutrition-obsessed cage–which means taking on adventures that initially sound too risky for the uptight Rachael. How would I get anything done? What if this means consuming more calories than if I were to stay at home with my healthier, controlled food? And what if the whole thing goes terribly wrong, leading to boredom, discomfort–or worse, embarrassment?


Taking on adventures that don’t involve 30 bananas a day means encouraging myself to go out and actually do things rather than stay holed up with a nutrition book or on the internet trying to find the “key to happiness” through a diet. Now that I’ve recovered from the eating disorder, I have to like, you know, live. I know that the Rachael deep down wants adventure and fun without guilt–but it takes that leap of bravery to get there.

So of course, it hasn’t been easy. Taking chances to stray away from my own schedule for an adventure that could go absolutely perfect or terribly wrong is a big risk–especially for the organized, scheduling, people-pleaser Rachael. The thing is, I know that by taking chances and getting “out there” will usually make me happy in the end for at least trying it.

The tough part is taking that first step.

On a recent trip, I found myself saying “Be brave, Rachael. Be brave.” And in following those wise words of wisdom the real Rachael had permission to come out at last and enjoy what life has to offer. The eating disorder voice was drowned out by laughter and bursts of joy–that, and by fun food and drinks of course. Even the awkward or embarrassing moments that did come up ultimately made for great stories to laugh about later. I found how much of myself I could be–how fun it is to balance the hard-working, organized, productive woman with the side of me who cracks jokes, is eager to take on spontaneous adventures, and can let her passion spill over to others.


Eating disorder recovery is scary because you have to be brave, you have to be daring, and you have to get out of your comfort zone in order to find adventure for the possibility of something wonderful–or yes, even disastrous. Like I mentioned in my last post, feeling great emotion (whether it’s terrible sadness or euphoric joy) is what comes with living a great life. By just staying home to be “productive” and “in control” with food all the time there would not be much to enjoy, no memories to share, no chance for a step in a new direction. I’ve found through wonderful experimentation that the more you try out this bravery thing, the better you get–and the more fulfilling life can be.

5 replies
  1. Brent Chesley
    Brent Chesley says:

    I agree with Regan. You are brave.

    Everyone feels embarrassed at times. Review past embarrassments. Note that you lived through each one. The next time you try something new, tell yourself, “I do not have to do everything perfectly. I give myself permission to make mistakes and feel embarrassed. I will survive and learn and be better for it.”

    That’s how I’m surviving physical fitness classes in which I am the worst one in class in almost everything the first time.

  2. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I honestly never thought about any of this this way. It gave me a new perspective on what others might deal with. (Not to say that doing new things isn’t ever scary for me, it depends on what it is.) P.S. I laughed at Dr. Chesley’s comment too. Keep up the good work, Doc!

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