Category Archives: the force awakens

5 Ways Star Wars Supports Recovery

I’m reposting this “Force Awakens” post to honor the late Carrie Fischer, who recently died of a heart attack. Bless her and her work IRL for recovery: her own, and advocating for other’s. May she rest in peace.

  1. Recovery is a hero(ine’s) journey.Leia

Star wars continues to be an epic and a classic for good reason: the hero(ine)’s journey is archetypal. It is something that has spoken to us humans cross culturally for millennium. Recovery is a hero(ine)’s journey. It follows the story of descent and return, of finding the shadow in one’s self, “slaying” the demon, and integrating it. It resolves the tension of free will: choosing to align one’s self with the force. And what is the force? 12 steppers would call this “Higher Power,” some eating disorder recovery circles call it “the part of you that knows,” Dialectical Behavioral Therapy calls it “Wise Mind.” It is the quiet voice of knowing that is always available, should you cultivate the simple but not easy practice of listening to its guidance.

  1. Do or do not. There is no try. 

Over-quoted, but good. Yoda is a good teacher because he is approached with fear and left with love. You can feel his power because he has integrated it into his Being. His wisdom, like any teacher that has walked their talk, comes from not just words, but actions and experience. He has embodied the teaching. This is one reason why it is so helpful to be working with a mentor, therapist, or sponsor who has recovered themselves. They can illuminate the way for you through the experience of the footsteps they have taken on the path.

  1. Choosing to belong now helps free you from the past.

In “The Force Awakens,” there is a scene at the bar where Rey finds Luke’s old light saber. She has a PTSD-like vision of her past and all the abandonment wounds that are still there. And the wise bar tender says:

“The belonging you seek is not in the past. It is in front of you.”

Recovery is about coming to peace with your past by living your way into the future. The only way out is through. Part of you may want to go to sleep (aka use/drink/restrict/binge/purge/go back to false innocence before trauma), but that option is gone. Once you start to wake up, you can’t go back to sleep.And the connection you want with all of the lost love(s) is here now for you to build. Heal the wounds from the past by living your way into the future, NOW.

  1. Good Leaders Hold hope, Inspire love, and Dare Greatly

I love how Leah has become a General in The Force Awakens. And I love how she starts to mentor the young Rey.  There is a beautiful moment where she tells Hans Solo with great love to bring their son back from the dark side. The force, and a mother, never gives up on hope, on love, on her child.

Unfortunately, Hans Solo ends up dying. But, as Brenee Brown rallies for in her TED talk on transforming shame, you have to be willing to get in the ring and fight, even if you fail:

If we’re going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path.And I know it’s seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself,I’m going to go in there and kick some ass when I’m bulletproof and when I’m perfect. And that is seductive. But the truth is that never happens. And even if you got as perfect as you could and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster when you got in there, that’s not what we want to see. We want you to go in. We want to be with you and across from you. And we just want, for ourselves and the people we care about and the people we work with, to dare greatly.

  1. And last but not least It’s not about the size of your body or whether you have “aged well.”

OK, I’m going to blur the character and the actress here and give a shout out to Carrie Fischer. She has grown through the years from starving herself to portray Princess Leah in 1983 slave bikini, to recovering from disordered eating and body image struggles, addiction, and Bipolar Disorder, to tweeting comebacks to criticism about her appearance in the latest film by stating:

“Please stop debating about whether or not I have aged well.”


“Youth and beauty are not accomplishments. They’re the temporary happy byproducts of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.”

Go Carrie. Go Recovery! And if they ask you to lose weight for the next film, JUST SAY NO! This is not a die-t; this is a live-it.

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