Thanksgiving....a holiday I for one have never understood. First off, no way in hell did Pilgrims and Indians sit down for some peaceful dinner meal. Second, why the heck do we celebrate people coming over to slaughter a native population. Third, why has America made a holiday so freaking hard for eating disorder people to overcome?
The first and second confusion...I still don't have an answer for, but that third point...my mind has begun to see past it. I had a big realization. Every year I tend to freak out about thanksgiving...what will people think of me, how will people judge the special dishes I have to bring, what if I eat too much, should I restrict breakfast just in case....all of these thoughts constantly swirl in my mind. But this Thanksgiving...I have a strange peace about me...all because of a realization I had.
You see, Thanksgiving has never been about the food. I could say that America has made it about the food, but even then its not about the food. If the turkey burns, or the dressing sucks, we still celebrate Thanksgiving. Because Thanksgiving isn't about the food, it's about family or whoever you spend it with. It's about stopping for one second all the ego-centric, selfish thoughts we as Americans focus on over what we don't have and replace them with thankfulness for what we do. True, the unity and thankfulness comes with a large meal, but the fact that we have food we can eat is something to be thankful for.
Somehow I have lost this meaning of Thanksgiving. I have always gone into it so scared of the meal and so filled with regret after the meal that I forget to enjoy the time with my family and to be thankful for being able to be with them another year. But not this Thanksgiving, this Thanksgiving my mission isn't to challenge myself at dinner, or to eat a normal amount, or to restrict, or anything food related, it's just to enjoy the time with my family and let what happens with food happen. Will I struggle, probably, but I will remind myself the focus. I will remind myself to enjoy the time with family and there won't be room for ED at that table, my family are the only ones who will fit there.
Perhaps the thought of the food will creep in, but luckily I am bringing some foods with me I know I can eat. The reality is I have a medical condition that keeps me from eating certain things (lack of gallbladder caused complications), but I also have a medical condition that requires me to eat. So I need to adapt and bring stuff with me I know I can eat, no matter what people may say.
But for those who don't have that option here is something else I realized. This is one meal, one meal out of the 365 days in a year. Let's say you eat 3 meals a day (many people in recovery eats 6 times a day though)....that's 1,095 meals in a years. So that is one meal out of 1,095 meals....we really think that 1 meal is going to cause some momumental change in our weight. It won't. Think about it...to even gain a pound is 3,500 extra calories and I don't think we will be having that much turkey and stuffing ;). And if we do, again it's one meal, there are 1,094 other ones that won't be that way and the weight will go away.
But what won't go away is the memories of how that Thanksgiving is spent. You never know what may happen to prevent one next year, or when a loved one won't be able to come to Thanksgiving anymore (RIP Aunt Jenny and Grandma Ruth). So you have this one day, this one moment, this one meal to enjoy their company. To just put food aside, put the feelings aside, and just experience this time with your loved ones. Sure the feelings will come up and that's okay, but just for this one meal, this one day...perhaps we could all let the feelings come, feel them, but not react to them. Just remind yourself it's just for this one meal. I have a feeling we will all be so thrilled with the feeling of freedom, that it may last more than this one day. No matter what though, if we choose to make the focus of Thanksgiving family and not food, communion and not calories, experience and not exercise.....then we will have something to be thankful for. We can be thankful for the courage and strength we have to overcome our ED. For me this courage and strength will come through constant prayer that day, and perhaps some texts to my friends in recovery, but I will fight for my Thanksgiving to be one I will be thankful for. Who wants to join me?