Riding the Waves of Recovery

I grew up near the ocean, where we were taught to pay close attention to the waves and the rolling tide. The movements of the sea held clues to impending weather, and to when it was safe for us to test the waters (and, conversely, when it was best to stay dry on the shore.)

It feels appropriate, then, that our own emotions are felt and frequently described as waves: They can grow and crash without warning, or gently rock us, or urgently pull us past where we intended to go. Learning how to navigate these waves is part of being human—and, even more so, part of the recovery process.

The Ocean

Anyone who has waded through choppy waters knows that trying to fight your way through waves doesn’t work; you wind up with a mouth full of salt water. Instead, we must learn to work with the waves, allowing them to buoy and carry us to the other side.

In recovery, as in all tumultuous times, we must learn to ride the waves of our emotions as they roll in, crest, and eventually pass. We must learn to see the ocean for its entirety, not just the passing storm. There are high tides and low tides. Sometimes the water is peaceful and still, and sometimes it’s rocky. The water isn’t always transparent or predictable—but there is always a place beneath the surface, deep down, where we can dive to when things get rough. And when we do, we realize that we are not the waves. We are the ocean.

The Sky

The ocean and the sky have a close relationship, pulling and influencing one another. As the tide ebbs and flows, clouds pass across the sky like thoughts through our mind, taking shape and affecting the waves. To recover, we must observe those thoughts and the shapes we think they form. Are we interpreting them correctly, or is there another way to see what we believe to be true? Which thoughts should we pay attention to, and which should we allow to pass swiftly across the sky?

Like the ocean, the sky also goes through phases. Sometimes it’s sunny and bright. Sometimes it’s dark, overcast, and stormy. Nothing is permanent—not the weather, and not our emotional or mental state. Just as we learn to ride the waves, we learn to let the clouds pass. We are not the clouds. We are the sky.

You are so much more than your emotions and your thoughts. You are the one who notices them, rolls with them, and eventually lets them pass so that you can move on. And it is this awareness that will bring recovery into your life.

Now it's your turn, I would love to hear from you! How have you experienced the waves during your recovery?



  • I choose to read this topic, because I am in a difficult and delicate situation. After two years and a half of recovery, I’m still back to bulimia behavior. Not so often and intense as it used to be, but it is still a chance in my mind. In the last 2 years, I have been able to watch the thoughts that are planning a bulimia crisis without giving them the energy to act and during the time they were shrinking. To be honest, my relationship with food it has always remained delicate, maybe restricting on some foods or craving for others, but bulimia was not there.
    I notice that a lot it has to do with this planning in the thoughts and in being able to catch the thought quite in advance, otherwise the action can follow without finding any dam. For sure the thought which planning a crisis is not coming out of the blue… And here emotions and their waves are arriving…. To create some space and question myself would be a great idea and tool. I noticed that sometimes the planning thought is arriving when I’m busy and so I need to put it aside, but then it keeps on working, ready to jump up later, quite big and loud.
    Often, when tired, or busy or when cores are filling up all my time, it is more difficult to find this space to breathe and to ask questions…
    The feeling of loneliness is also getting worse because of the pandemic situation.
    Anyhow…. I wish myself and all to give energy to my breathing in a broader sense, to ride the waves of life, giving myself the space to feel and not using food as an answer.
    Thank you for listening

  • I used to run from the waves. They were not safe as a young girl for me to experience.
    I survived in the desert for many years then.
    Always thirsty but nothing I drank quelled my thirst for long. I became parched, completely dry and empty.
    One sleepless night I cried out to God and asked Him to help me. I didn’t know if it would even matter or if this “god” even heard me but it was a last attempt to try and help myself.
    From that place then I,
    Very slowly began to see MY true self.
    The “All” of me.
    My Emotions, Thoughts, Beliefs, Hungers.
    At times this hurts too much and I run back to the desert. But my time there isn’t long before I remember it isn’t really what I need or want anymore so I pick myself up and come back.
    The journey back is important too.
    Remembering where I was, seeing where I am now and all the progress I have made.
    This somehow strengthens me to keep moving towards the ocean once again.
    This new place I’ve discovered and been in for 2 years now since stumbling across “Eating in the Light of the Moon.
    When I arrive I see the beauty of all the colors displayed in the ocean and in the sky.
    So I decide to sit, to wait, to watch.
    And I realize there is so much more to see and experience here.
    So I stay.

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