When caregivers have our oxygen masks on and have been practicing loads of self care, we can be like the momma bear in this video who patiently waits for and believes in her cub. It’s so tempting when our loved ones in recovery are heading back down the very slippery slope of eating disorders to go down after them. This bear knew her cub could do it. When the cub got close she tries to reach out to help but does not go back down the slope. When we are depleted, it’s much harder to watch them slide down over and over again. When we are filled up, we have more capacity to use tools for coping and can believe in them.
Animals often have more innate wisdom than humans and know they need to reserve their energy and it wouldn’t serve the cub for momma to use up all that energy to go back down and rescue it. Plus, she believes in the cub’s capacity to climb. It’s hard for us to believe in our loved one’s when they’re being held hostage by ed and often acting out and behaving in ways that are sabotaging their recovery. AND…we need to believe in their capacity. We need to show them that we will believe in recovery for them until they can believe in it for themselves.
YES! It is hard to watch them slip back down the slippery slope time and time again. AND…we can stand at the top of the hill guiding them toward recovery. If we go down the slope with them, we will wear ourselves out trying to drag them up the hill and they will feel like failures for not being able to do it.
Notice momma bear is not ranting, raving or wringing her hands. She paces back and forth a bit and yet she stays at the top of the mountain showing her cub the way. And believing in her cub. She isn’t abandoning. She is keeping very close watch.
It can feel like we are abandoning our loved one when we don’t rescue. It is actually giving them the greatest gift we can give them, our belief in them. That means we have to manage our own feelings of distress which is not possible if we are not practicing self care.
What will you take away from watching this momma bear?