Tuesday, May 22, 2012


We've arrived at the final week of the Omer period!  In just a few days, we will celebrate Shavuot, the time when Hashem gave Torah to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.  That's what we've been waiting for throughout the entire counting of the Omer; that's our final destination.  So, it is fitting that the sefira for this week is the tenth and final one:  malchut.

As the last sefira in the chain, malchut receives all the other sefirot that have come before.  It is the purpose for the emanation of all the previous sefirot, the actualization of all the intention that has been building up along the way.  Put simply, malchut was what Hashem had in mind when he began the process of creating the world.  Its brilliance depends on all of the energy that goes into it, but there's no mistaking that malchut is the ultimate reflection of Hashem's glory.

For weeks, I've been writing about the other sefira and how they are analogous to various parts of the recovery journey; each one is an ingredient that is necessary to living a full and healthy life.  Malchut, then, IS recovery.  It is the reason why we embark on this process to begin with; the belief in its existence is what keeps us going.  There is nothing easy about the work of recovery.  I've always maintained that unless the end result was truly phenomenal, no one would ever put herself through the process!  What I've discovered, both through talking with other recovered individuals and through my own experience, is that recovery is absolutely, 100% worth it.  It is not perfection, but it is genuine life, the purpose for which we were created.

This is the week to celebrate our visions of recovery, to honor the ways we're living our goals and to make plans for how to achieve what we've yet to accomplish.  It's the week to remind ourselves that, yes, this IS worth it, that if we turn our intentions into actions, we can live the lives that Hashem intends for us.

My posts don't often generate a lot of comments, but I want to invite each of you to share something that recovery has allowed you to experience, something you've been able to be truly present for as a result of all your efforts in your journey.  We can all stand to benefit from the inspiration of others!

Chodesh tov, and chag sameach!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


This week of the Omer focuses on yesodYesod is considered the foundation that links all the previous sefirot to the final one, malchut (to be discussed next week!).  It's the channel for the life force that has traveled through each of the sefirot, picking up all the accumulated divine attributes along the way.  If malchut is the ultimate recipient, then yesod is what connects malchut to the awesomeness of the gift.

The way in which yesod acts as the "connector" reminds me a lot of my own process of transitioning from contemplating recovery, to truly living recovery.  I spent years in the contemplation phase, picking up nuggets of inspiration wherever I could find them.  My nutritionists taught me how to nourish my body; my therapists showed me how to manage my emotions and connect with my desires.  Other patients shared with me their own experiences and offered me advice based on their own journeys.  After years of accumulating all this wisdom, I was primed for recovery and yet not actually living it.  I knew exactly what I needed to do.  And yet, there was a disconnect--I couldn't quite bring myself to connect my intellectual understanding of recovery with the behavioral change necessary to achieve it.

This is where yesod comes in.  For me, yesod has been what has made recovery a reality.  It is how I combined all the individual ingredients (the "tool box," for all you CBT folks) into a solid foundation for the structure of a recovered life.  Yesod is what bridged the gap between my intention and my actual behavior.  All of the skills I learned over a decade of eating disorder treatment were in place, but the skills alone could not make recovery happen.  I needed a connector to help me put the knowledge into practice, to help me move from just imagining recovery to actually living it.

If you are in a position of knowing you have the tools for recovery, yet feeling unable to make behavior changes, you are probably familiar with the feelings of frustration that come along with that cognitive dissonance.  This is the time to uncover your power of yesod, to find the motivation to put recovery knowledge into action in order to create the life you want.  We all deserve to have our dreams of recovery match the realities of our lives.  This requires us to construct our foundations, one element at a time.  This week, I encourage you to think about what steps you can take to turn your positive thoughts into recovery-oriented behavior.  How can you use yesod to help you build the life you desire?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


This is the week of hod--humility--the counterpart of netzach (victory).  I'll admit that I've been having a little trouble solidifying my thoughts on humility, because I think it can be a tricky concept for people in recovery.  For those of us who struggle with "black-and-white thinking," it's easy to get on the humility train and ride it straight into relentless self-criticism and self-loathing.  It's true that part of humility is acknowledging our own shortcomings and our "smallness."  But, how can we do this while also remaining self-affirming?

In reading about hod, I found an article containing a quote that resonates with me strongly:

A full cup cannot be filled.  When you're filled with yourself and your needs, "I and nothing else," there is no room for more.  When you "empty" yourself before something greater than yourself, your capacity to receive increases beyond your previously perceived limits.   

For years, my cup was painfully empty and I relied on my eating disorder to give me an illusion of fullness.  So effective was anorexia at convincing me that my cup was full, that I shut out people and experiences that really could have enriched my life.  I had no room for relationships with people--my relationship with food was all I needed.  Going into intensive treatment required me to acknowledge the many ways in which my eating disorder had brought me to my knees.  When I was ready to recognize how empty my cup actually was, I made room for the possibility of filling it with things that would add tremendous value to my life.  By admitting how much help I needed, I opened the door for deep connection and profound learning. In recovery, I have found that people are more capable of satisfying my relational needs than I previously thought they would be.  What's more, I've found that I'm much more able to receive--and reciprocate--the love that others have to offer.   

When I think of hod, another story that keeps coming to my mind is one of my favorite Hasidic oral teachings:

A person should always have two pockets, with a note in each pocket.  On one note should be written, "For my sake was the world created."  On the other should be written, "I am but dust and ashes."

To me, this means that we each need a healthy dose of humility in our lives.  It is okay to recognize areas in which we want to improve and things we need to work on.  This is what keeps us growing and evolving.  Sometimes, it is important to acknowledge that we are really small in the grand scheme of things, and that we are part of a system that is much larger than ourselves.  But, we also need to remember that although we are small, we are significant.  Everything we are, we are because this is how Hashem wants us to be--all of our strengths, He gave us so that we could use them for the greater good. Humility is what allows us to say, "Wow--I am just one small person in this awesome universe.  But even though I am tiny, I have powers that Hashem has given me so that I might contribute to this world in a positive way."

In this week dedicated to hod, I encourage us all to do the following two things:

1) Think about the ways in which your cup is not full.  How can you open yourself to people and experiences that might enrich your life and your journey?

2) Acknowledge that you are just one life in a universe filled with Hashem's creations.  Take a moment to appreciate what it means to be one small part of a much larger system.  Then, consider your personal strengths and recognize that each one was a gift from Hashem, just for you.  How might you use your power to get the most out of this world?  How can you use it to give the most back?