Some people like to be the center of attention and some people prefer to blend into the background. What does it mean to admit that I enjoy being the leader, in front of people, taking charge and being a slight ham at times… especially when there is a camera before us?
We just returned from a week long family vacation at the beach… with 17 other people all in one house.
Let me break this down…
Vacation = wonderful … so thankful to be able to take a vacation
Family = I love my family and our family unit (the five of us) are tight knit, supportive, easy going/relaxed and fun. If you peal away the disorder being around extended family is wonderful – they are fun loving, smart and enjoyable. I love our family. But we know you can’t just simply shed the disorder – or we would!
So… I’m used to eating in front of my family unit, and even with that comfort I often “apologize” or explain why I’m eating (as if they are thinking anything other than… yea – all good! Go for it). That means there were 13 others living with me day in and out for the week, who I am not comfortable enough with to push through the struggle and not let restriction try to take over.
At the beach = is this a surprise that this would be a stressor for someone who has battled eating or exercise disorders? Clearly not.
Before the trip my anxiety levels and disordered thoughts were firing on all cylinders. A good and bad thing about this trip is that our routine is to make most of our meals in the house – we grocery shop, make our own food throughout the day and then have family meals for dinner. It is helpful that I was able to have control over some of the grocery list. Helpful because for myself and many who’s disorder makes them feel more comfortable in restrictive mode will use any excuse not to eat. Mine has always been… well there’s nothing here I can eat. “Nothing I can eat” is simply not true but the disorder justifies it. What it really means is I don’t feel safe eating it. I do have a dairy allergy so my disorder loves to use that as an excuse as well.
Family dinner meals are the hardest. The disorder has given me very rigid routines… times to eat, foods to eat, and exercise needed to justify the meal. All of that has to go out the window and a BIG part of going through this long road of recovery is to function each day without this strict routine.
Here comes the all eyes on me moments…
We all sit down for a meal (or the meals all week). It happens to be a type of food I truly don’t like – not that the disorder doesn’t like – I just don’t. All eyes feel to be on me as I pass on the main dish and gingerly take a few green beans… I know in my mind I’ll eat some of “my food” later … but feel the questioning eyes. In reality no one probably even noticed but my disorder liked to “feed” on this feeling.
Later I quietly made a small meal. All was going fine and I felt like I was making some progress, albeit baby steps, I fought the desire to eat in my bedroom in private and that made me feel like I was moving the disorder mountain. All good until… one family member said… “having a second dinner??” Oh my goodness. The comment was innocent on their part and goes to show that when I thought all eyes were on me during dinner I was being more self centered than anything because this person hadn’t noticed at all that I hadn’t eaten before. BUT I felt like I’d just been gut punched. The sergeant fired up and wanted me to put the meal down… I immediately started thinking… well they all saw my crazy hard workout this morning. Maybe I don’t need this… I could just stop eating. NO… I was hungry and I wanted to win. I didn’t want to just go to sleep, I wanted to have energy for the next day, I wanted to play with the girls, I WANTED TO BEAT the disorder.
Fighting an ongoing battle with the sergeant is what I’ve signed up for and I will quiet him. Something that has helped me and maybe it will help you too is to find things to focus on as motivation for getting better. Mine are my young daughters. I want them to have a healthy and happy mom who is a positive and healthy role model. I am driven by them, but the action has to be from within.
I share this experience because the fear of it was almost paralyzing before the trip. At times, facing it while on vacation was exhausting, but all in all, it all passes and I not only survived, I loved the memory making and laughter filled week.
You, too, can survive what scares you and continue to make strides to beat whatever disorder you’re battling through. Stay strong…
Here are my motivations … what are yours?