Today I feel more grateful than I have a long time. There is not a particular reason but a lot of small moments that make you realize, wow.
I was lucky enough to meet with a reader who made me realize how far I have come. Let me explain. There has been not one time in the past six years that I have felt comfortable meeting new people in new situations. My ED prevented me from doing that. It told me to play it safe and never cross that line of comfort. Even in the past year of recovery, I have played it safe. I have known that I needed to be aware of what triggered me and made me vulnerable so to keep me in that place of recovery. But a year has past and I am ready to start growing yet again. I realized today, I am doing that. It helped that she was someone I would want to be friends with and seemed super compatible with. (Seriously, we are planning some So You Think You Can Dance watching, I mean I wish I could explain my giddiness after meeting someone so similar!) More so, it helped I was willing to take that risk.
Blogging was a huge progress point for me. In certain points of my blogging in the last four months, I have done things I never thought I would do. I never thoughts I would discuss food or my ED past or my points of struggle. I had been a closed book to the world, even after my inpatient last year. I thought my struggle was meant to be mine and mine alone. True but I forgot one key point. I NEEDED OTHERS, it was ok to have supports and gasp friends in this process. Groundbreaking I know.
Now where from here? You all know I head home and to the Cape with mom’s entire side of the family for three days. Not a long time and granted it will be quite busy. I want to discuss something though, something I have never been proud of. Family gatherings were my weak point. My ED thrived off of them. It hurts to think about last year at the Cape. Ask anyone, I was miserable. I had just come out of inpatient and did not get used to my new body. I did not wear a bathing suit, I did not go in the water, I did not smile. I actually broke down while I was there. You are asking yourself, why the heck would you go back? Because I know I can do better.
This year, I feel a difference and I want a difference. For the first time, I told my mom to buy and bring gluten free grilling options for me so I can *gasp* actually eat food when I am there. Tessa wrote about this and it is hard to explain but when I was at my worst, I was always ok. I refused to bring safe food or even food I could eat, rather starving myself at any family gathering. It lead to guilt and unhappiness. My family hated seeing me like that and I hated being like that. I can’t describe the depression and anxiety I felt at these times. It was painful yet my ED told me I was in control. Something that is tough, is that my family still very much sees me as the ‘sick’ Alex. They provide all the ‘safe’ foods which is not always the most helpful. It is frustrating because when I am around them I still feel like I am walking on egg shells. They watch my moves to see my reactions and they are super sensitive to my actions. Worse was last year when I had to listen to the crazy diets or weight someone in my family wanted to lose. (This I know will be the hardest for me – it drives me bat shit crazy!)
This year, I am pushing myself in many ways. I know I can be in a bathing suit thanks to the first family vacation in Antigua. I know I can play with my cousins in the water without judging myself. I know I can try new food and actually like it (bacon at breakfast, bring it!). I am going to take those two short days down the Cape to completely live in the moment. This is huge for me, this is something I haven’t done in over six years. If I am feeling extra strong, who knows an alcoholic drink could be coming my way.
You see, I do have fear. I do have doubts. But I will not let them ruin this family time. I love my family more than ever and they have watched me suffer enough. I have watched myself suffer enough. Here is to celebrating a year in recovery and being a new Alex at the family gatherings.
Questions: What are you grateful for today? Do you struggle at family gatherings?