"It is a journey, a dance, a direction, and we have a choice every day, every bite, every thought, to change the course of our path..."
I spent a few months of my early recovery at the Renfrew Center of Philadelphia. I was 26 years old, working in New York City, and Renfrew had just opened a recovery facility for eating disorders in this neighboring state. James Taylor’s album, Never Die Young, had just been released. It became a favorite, and a fitting title for me, given that I was inpatient for an eating disorder that, left untreated,
could have killed me.
I arrived at Renfrew following the wise advice of a caring friend, “you have to make your recovery the most important thing or nothing else is going to matter.” This awareness had been on the fringes of my consciousness but no one had ever said it aloud. I was blessed with an “aha” moment that day and within a few weeks found myself alone, on a train to Renfrew, surprisingly wondering what I had done. Was this really happening? Was I actually going inpatient? Would I never be able to eat chocolate again?
My chosen stay at this facility was fruitful, I gained useful tools and more knowledge of myself and why I had developed an eating disorder. I participated in different therapeutic groups, became aware of my family dynamics, and got physically and emotionally healthier. As I ended my stay at Renfrew, with my tool box now full of tools, I was asked to say good bye to the Renfrew community as was customary for
all Renfrew clients upon exit. I played the song, Home By Another Way from James Taylor’s album, to my Renfrew audience. It represented my passage through recovery versus a more Biblical interpretation of the song. The fact that James Taylor had also struggled with addiction made me feel like he might have been describing struggles he had at one time in his life. It was the perfect choice for the journey I started at Renfrew and became the theme song of my life over the next few decades.
My interpretation of these lyrics? “King Herod is always out there," (the eating disorder remains a part of us), and "has our card on file," (waiting in the wings if we don’t living a balanced life), but I also believe we can choose to go “home by another way," (choosing a different path than the destructive one of an eating disorder). “Tomorrow is a brand new day,” (in spite of the inevitability of imperfect recovery).
When I hear this song today, I still well up with emotion, tears fill my eyes every time. Twenty-five years ago I didn't imagine the life I have today, I didn't even know how to imagine. When I state that recovery is possible, as I often do, I know it is accessible for even those who seem incurable, and nothing short of wondrous--“They tell me that life is a miracle and I figure that they’re right." It doesn't happen in a minute, or even, necessarily, following a stay at an inpatient facility or a certain amount of therapy. It is a journey, a dance, a direction and we have a choice every day, every bite, every thought, to change the course of our path. I encourage you, “to be wise men and women too, and go “home by another way.”