…Because, likely, if you have an eating disorder you love Thanksgiving- but hate Thanksgiving food.
Personally, I have no problem admitting I am the scrooge of Thanksgiving (okay, fine. And Halloween… Costumes and Body Dysmorphia just DO NOT fly with me no matter if I dress like a slutty nurse or a Pentecostal nun.)
Give me your pilgrims, your Indians, your Thanksgiving Charlie Brown VHS, The corporate Vacation Days, Family small talk, The sweet smell of doughy rolls-
But my God, keep your stuffing, your pecan pie, your cranberry sides, your corn pudding like 1000 feet away from me.
There are times I wish I could use a get-out-of-jail-free card on my eating disorder; Thanksgiving is one of them.
If it were up to me, I’d sit at the ”kid table” far far away from the buffet of food and play airplane while someone feeds me a spoonful of carrot mash alongside my cousin’s 1-year old.
Alas, recovery- however- doesn’t exactly approve of carrot mash (although it might just be the ONE food item I actually don’t know the calorie count on…)
Anywho, despite my silent protesting- Thanksgiving feast occurs again- as it did last year and the year before etc., etc.
I wrote about ”Holidays in Wackadoodle Land” last Easter when I was panicking over chocolate eggs and bunny marshmallows – but I figured it’d be worth writing about them again given that we’re headed into the eye of the holiday storm.
Like I’ve said, communicating openly continues to keep me in recovery.
So what about the food? What will you do this year?
As I stated in my previous post, I have generally 4 concrete “ideas” for surviving holiday food festivities- and now that wine is off the table completely, I’m interested to see how well they work out given that this will be the first sober Thanksgiving I’ve had in -oh- my twenties.
What will (1) #carpEDiem-ing my eating disorder look like now that I won’t have the hazy comfort of wine waiting for me before the meal? How will I prepare?
Likely, I’ll run; perhaps take a bike ride. Take a moment to reflect on how 3 years ago I ran a 10k Turkey Trot the morning of Thanksgiving after binging an entire bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos the night before.
Dehydrated, bloated, and running off two cigs, I- of course- finished the race because what was I if not a “runner” but I felt absolutely horrendous the rest of that day. I physically still cringe remembering how much pain shot through my back and legs as I laid slumped on the sofa that afternoon after our Thanksgiving meal.
Didn’t matter to me though- the tightness in my legs proved I was burning calories- the Charlie Horses that woke me from my sleep every night meant I was getting “stronger”- so I propped my legs up and laid an ice pack on them and ignored the voice in my head saying ”you know something’s wrong with your shins and it’s getting worse.”
It had been getting worse. I’d suffered with shin splints and stress fractures since college due to excessive cardio exercise but it wasn’t enough to stop me cold turkey (punny). Often, I could run through it and the painful sensation dulled until the moment I stepped off the treadmill. Funny how our bodies work to protect us- yet we spend so much time self-inflicting pain on them.
Regardless, I’m hoping I find it easier to “seize the day” so to speak without alcohol. As I’ve been cooking for weeks now, I offered to help my Mom this year with some of the sides.
Will I eat them all necessarily? Probably not. I don’t love cranberry jello-whatever-it-is and I don’t really care for rolls.
But I’m going help make them because I have to actively push myself and I refuse to live my life avoiding holiday traditions.
That being said, I will admit that I do, however, still very much plan on utilizing my (2) “Little Lord Fauntleroy Move.”
Truth is, I still just don’t trust myself with buffets. I don’t trust myself to get enough food. I don’t trust that it won’t put me in an absolutely foul mood where I shut down and chew on my finger till it’s bleeding.
Two years after rehab and yes, I will continue to ask my parents to fix my plate for me because it works. One of them asks which food items I’d prefer, I tell them, and they go through and get it for me.
Again, is it awkward at first? Sure. But I do not do well when I’m forced to walk down a line of random foods. I feel my little “wackadoodle neurotransmitters” misfiring and I tend to either freeze and give up before I’m done, or more likely than not get too little food on my plate.
As I stated at Easter, I don’t like the idea that people are watching me fill my plate; that every eye is looking down thinking potentially ”Oh… she sure had herself a HEARTY scoop of stuffing this year…” and I have the tick in my head that’s hissing at me to be cautious of how much I get because I won’t have any clue how many calories are in what portion.
I have my healthy mind, yes, but I can’t always stop the wack part of me from taking over so instead of making my life harder than it needs to be, I just ask.
At the end of the day, people WANT to help you, but oftentimes those closest to you are so utterly baffled as to how to go about doing it that they simply just stay quiet for fear of making it worse.
My beautiful lil roommate (and also former coworker) once got me a plate of food at an office party without even asking because she had read my post and knew what some of my trigger signs are.
If you’re in recovery, you have a responsibility to speak up. People can’t cater to your eating disorder because they simply don’t know how to. You can’t expect people to mind-read your needs. They won’t. I was (unfairly) resentful of my friends and family for years because I was “so sure” they were purposely trying to make me eat too much, or put me in situations that I didn’t know how to handle.
They don’t know- they don’t live on planet wackadoodle.
The more you’re open about what you need for recovery the more you realize that your family and friends are learning right along side you.
So hey- go easy on them- (3) “Let them eat cake.”
Literally, let them.
As I wrote in my Easter post, I feel the urge to binge a lot more when I’m already feeling “too full.”
I get this thought in my head like “FINE. I’VE ALREADY EATEN MYSELF INTO OBLIVION. WHY NOT EAT EVERYTHING. IT’S USELESS. YOU’LL NEVER GET IT OFF. EAT EVERYTHING.”
Which then just leads me to think:
“AT LEAST I’LL HAVE AN EXCUSE TO THROW IT UP LATER IF I EAT 15,000 CALORIES.”
Due to sobriety, I think it should be a lot easier for me this year to wait to have my inevitable Thanksgiving dessert. If I let my fullness adjust- my stomach quiet- I’ll enjoy it instead of eating it like a frantic human vacuum sucking in dust.
However, I’ve got to keep in perspective that if my family wants cake before me, fine. That is okay. It is my choice just as much as it is theirs.
And I will have my dessert when I know I can enjoy it.
Last but not least, I mentioned “therapizing” yourself (whatta word) in my other post… or in other, more frank terms:
(4) “Yo Linds- STOP pretending like you’re ABOVE OA/AA ’cause ya ain’t.'”
I am always justifying a reason to not sit in a room full of people and talk about who’s feeling low and who’s relapsing and who’s life sucks worse.
But the reality is that OA/AA has stuck around for as long as it has because on various levels it works.
Naturally, you have to be receptive to it, and consciously aware of the fact that some people sitting at OA/AA might be physically “sober” but are still emotionally an addict.
But there is something to be said about surrounding yourself with people who have the same base desire to improve their lives in the type of way you are trying to improve yours.
Personally, I prefer OA since I am first and foremost, a product of disordered eating, but I have a friend currently in rehab who is out on a 24-hour pass Wednesday night and he called and asked if I’d like to catch up.
”We could go to an AA meeting,” he suggested sheepishly. I don’t know why, but I find myself doing the same when I talk about OA/AA. With that same sheepish tone.
Maybe it has something to do with the concreteness of it. Like if you’re attending AA/OA then you REALLY are publicly proclaiming that you are vulnerable and self-destructive.
Anyway, back to the point- he asked and I lit up. “Love it,” I said- much to his surprise. ”I’m down. Let’s do it. I’ve never gone to a Fort Worth meeting.”
“They’re okay,” he sighed. “I prefer others but I’ve gone to a couple and they’re fine.”
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “Just gotta show up.”
And show up we will-
Because at the end of the day, it’s not about giant extreme leaps and proclamations of sobriety-
It’s about tiny adjustments that will make you feel like you’re taking the active steps to improve your shiz.
My friend asked me last night- his voice shaky as he sat in his rehab phone booth:
“How do you do it Linds?”
“I don’t know always,” I said. “I just spout off thinking I know this or that and sometimes it’s accurate and other times I have to redefine.”
“But you’re okay,” he said. “3 years ago you were awful,” he paused. “And now you’re just okay- you’re consistently okay- and I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how to avoid the temptation. I don’t know what keeps you going.”
“Yeah well,” I paused. “I don’t always either, and I definitely still eat too much granola.”
I heard him snort through the phone.
“But I don’t know,” I reiterated. “Not truly. I just made a choice. I went to rehab ’cause I knew I was missing a lot of my life and I didn’t want to do it anymore,” I paused. “And I’m okay with who I’m becoming I guess, and I wasn’t before.”
He paused- we were silent on the phone.
“You’ll get your shit together,” I said quietly.
“I don’t know anymore,” he said. “I don’t trust myself.”
“You shouldn’t,” I said. “But you can eventually- and it’s really f-ing hard.”
“You have to be honest,” I said. “Like brutally honest. With yourself. With everyone. And it really sucks when you’re doing it.”
“I’ve never been honest,” he sighed.
”I know,” I agreed. “I dated you – remember?”
“Knew that’d come up. We were 16.”
I smiled. “Look,” I paused again- contemplating the last two years. “It was pretty simple honestly. At the end of the day I just didn’t want to hurt myself anymore. I was tired of it,” I said. “And maybe it’s idealistic and stupid and innocent but I know I’m gonna die, ya know? I’m gonna die and maybe I’ll be reincarnated or I’ll go to heaven or maybe I’ll be dirt on the ground- but I just want to have a life,” I said. “I just wanna leave some little mark on a few people and then poof- I’m outta here.”
“You always were idealistic,” I heard him smile. “But I’m proud of you Linds.”
“We do have good lives, ya know? You have the ability to have a happy one.”
“Once you trust yourself again, you’ll figure out what you need.”
“A new life,” he sighed.
“Naw,” I said. “The one you have is just fine. You’ll see.”
“Lez hope,” he said.
We said our goodbyes.
“See ya at AA,” I smiled.
“Yep-Thanksgiving for the crazies.”
“Who would’ve known at 16?” I chuckled. “But life is a tricky lil bastard.”
“Night Linds,” he said. “Keep on doin’ your thing.”
-And that I will, lil boy-
Happy Thanksgiving All!
*Would love to hear from any of you on your plans for Thanksgiving and how you manage recovery!
3 thoughts on “Holidaze: Surviving The #Blessed Season With An Eating Disorder”
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Finally maybe admitting to my family when they start the comments on how they’d wish I’d gain weight, that “I’m working on it.” And by working on it I have an awesome therapist, dietician, and physician and we’ll get there eventually but maybe the random comments during a jovial time aren’t really necessary since it’s obviously not going to be a mind blowing convo where I open up and you guys feel good that you brought it up. Lolol
Once again, kudos on the post. It is therapeutic for you to write but just as therapeutic for me to read. I relate to the “I am already full, I might as well eat more to give me a reason to purge.” etc, mentality. I don’ t think my family would make my plate..instead they would just sigh and take it as an indication that I am abnormal. They aren’t very understanding and still act as if I should just get over it. Sigh. .thank you for writing.