The Liminal Space by Mariam Kamal

Written by Mariam Kamal

Have you ever asked yourself why recovery seems so hard?

Sometimes, the answer is that your eating disorder made you picture the greener grass, then, you discovered that its reality was anything but that, so you kept procrastinating and sticking to your comfort zone because you didn't want to start over.

You are not alone. 

 In fact, recovery is hard. It's a path toward uncertainty where we face hesitation, perplexity and sometimes fear.

These uncomfortable emotions might lead us to question the whole process, which in turn, could prompt us to stop or regress. could prompt us to stop or regress. But here is the truth about this critical phase: recovery is a liminal space.

What is Liminal Space?

According to Merriam – Webster, "Liminal" is a sensory threshold or an intermediate state, phase, or condition.

Anyone will go through this space in their life – but because we inherently have a predictive mind that can't easily cope with change, the transition or the liminal phase would be the worst.

Why is recovery a liminal space?

When we decide to recover from an eating disorder, we actually choose to grow out of our comfort zone and head to the middle of nowhere.

I experienced that phase at the beginning of my journey to full recovery. It was a phase where my mind was full of "what-if" questions and worst-case scenarios.

I had to unlearn what I believed in for about 5 years, I had to face a belief system that glorifies unrealistic standards, I had to ignore what others said or noticed, and I had to commit to the uncertainty

And this is the meaning of the liminal phase: you are looking forward to a new and promising beginning while living with the unknown.

So, here is what I have learned from living in that space;

1-Focus on the “now”:

You don't have to know everything to begin your journey to recovery. Just start, go all-in, and commit to the process.

Remember that the past has passed and we can't predict what will happen.

2-Embrace gratitude:

If you feel that you can't accept the present moment because it is full of resentment or remorse, you can begin to be more grateful for what you already have. Gratitude brings satisfaction and satisfaction is the key to happiness

3-Practice self-compassion:

Stop being hard on yourself. We all make mistakes and we should never feel ashamed of that. Instead, try to listen to your authentic self, treat yourself with something you really enjoy, and forgive yourself for whatever you have done

4-Accept uncomfortable emotions:

Just because something feels bad doesn't mean it is bad. So, whenever you experience painful emotions, try to notice them, stay with them, be curious about them, and then, let them go. Our painful emotions are here for a reason, so your attempts to push them away will backfire

5-Never trust Ed's thoughts:

The more you commit to recovery, the louder your Ed's thoughts will be. In fact, it means that you are on the right path.

So, whenever you experience any unhelpful thoughts about restriction, earning, or burning off your meals, do the opposite

6-Trust your body:

Our bodies and minds are connected. By listening to our bodies' needs, we are sending a message to our minds that we are aware and we will listen and respond.

7- Perplexity will never last forever:

You will go through confusion, doubts, and unanswered questions. But remember that your liminal phase is just a temporary period. It's like a cloud before clarity.

8-Find a ritual:

Rituals have structures, so it's the best answer to break the vicious cycle of anxiety. Create a ritual where you do whatever brings you joy and remember to shake it off occasionally.

9-Remember your worth:

Eating disorders are manipulators. They can convince you that you are nothing without their rules. But you already know that these rules are detrimental to your body and mind and say nothing about you.

Give yourself permission to eat well and honor your spirit

10-Be creative:

Although it is an unsettling phase, creativity can take the driver's seat. Write about what you are going through; rebuild your values, renew your boundaries, and create your affirmations

You don't have to be perfect when starting your journey, even if the road looks gloomy, even if Ed's thoughts are overwhelming, just remind yourself that you are growing and that recovery is worth