Sorry I didn't write as much as I said I was going to over break, but something amazing happened. I started to live. Not live as in exist. But I actually experienced and enjoyed life and my time with family. I stuck with a meal plan, ate what I wanted, challenged myself to restaraunt foods, and had the best time at home I have in....well ever. Sure some behaviors crept back in and I slipped a few times, but it didn't matter or keep me beat up for a whole day. I learned, corrected, and moved on. How? By learning to live life.
It is the first time I felt somewhat...normal. I was eating what I (not ED) deemed healthy. Meals with vibrant colors that still met my exchanges. My timing was wacky, but so is my whole families, so I still felt normal. And I ate with people...mostly my dad. The focus wasn't on the food but on conversation...and I just felt...idk...like I was enjoying time with him and food just happened to be a part of it. Not my usual meal time where food is the sole focus. It was amazing.
And when I wasn't eating, I wasn't worrying about the next meal, last meal, tomorrow's meal...I was in the moment. I enjoyed bowling with my dad, visiting my grandpa, training the guide dog I had for the week. I was, for once, truly living. I have never felt that free...I literally felt lighter. Like this burden of worry and fear had been lifted.
I didn't go into the break with a concrete plan. I didn't set up regimented routines to stick to recovery. Actually...I didn't have any time to plan ahead. I just kind of...went with it...and I think that made all the difference. Because I had to be in the moment. I had to make decisions in the moment. And without concrete plans, I was free to do as I pleased...not as I felt I ought to do. I wasn't trying to live up to some standard of how my break should go...I just...lived. I know it seems simple, but it was so freeing. To take each day as it came. To use each moment for recovery...for living. To not push myself to look recovered or to meet certain goals, but instead to just be.
I didn't realize just how amazing this week felt till the drive back to school today. All the sudden I was overcome with this instinct to turn the car around and drive back home. This has never happened for me. I am usually geared up...ready to run from the disaster of a break at home, back to the comfort of my regimented life on campus. But this time...that wasn't the feeling at all. I was scared to come back. Scared to come back to the routine. Scared to lose all the freedom I had felt over this past week. I just wanted to run back to the comfort of home.
But just as I kept up and built on the progress I made at school when I went home for break....perhaps I can maintain and build on the freedom I felt at home, here at school. But I'm not so sure. I already feel the anxiety of upcoming exams, the fear of the foods in the dining hall, the weight and burden of the schedule of classes and work, and I feel the lack of freedom.
As if that wasn't enough it hit me that I won't be having a nutritionist session to ease me back to school...or to shout for joy about the victory at home. As much as I am enjoying the freedom's my meal plan has brought...part of me also began to want more food this past week at home...and now I don't have someone telling me to eat more. I know that sounds weird coming from an anorexic..to want to eat more...but its a reality I am coping with. I just don't know how to cope with it and if I should change my meal plan.
All of these realities: coming back to school, still having 6 weeks of exams, not having a nutritionist, and having to learn to juggle this recovery back into the same life I had before I left....they are weighing me down. All my meals and snacks were a struggle today...and I know tomorrow will be hard. For one, I will have to stick to a concrete schedule with my eating in order to get everything in by the end of the night. At home this week...well the schedule got lax and I just ate when I wanted (of course this wasn't the best and had me delaying meals way too late just because didn't have appetite in morning). So tomorrow...when I have to start eating at 9 am...it's gonna be a struggle.
But no matter what I can look back on this past week and see how happy, freeing, and joyous semi-normal life can be. It's just the start of a normal life too. I know true "normal", true and complete freedom from ED will be even more joyous...and I can't even imagine that. But this past week, without even trying, I showed myself normalcy and life not controlled by food isn't something to be feared..it's something to be craved. I was a part of life, a part of family, a part of the world. I got out of my head and actually experienced life. That's why I fear going back to the isolation and traps of ritualized behaviors.
Perhaps I need to stop planning to do better at school....and just keep living. Stop trying to craft the perfect recovery plan, and just walk out recovery...one moment at a time. Perhaps the key to freedom and recovery is allowing yourself to be free enough to recover. To be free enough to make mistakes and learn. To throw away the plans, charts, goals....and just exist. I didn't go home planning on eating at restaurants but the desire came up and I followed it and did. I didn't go home planning on branching out with my food....but I did. No recovery step I made was planned...but they all happened. Maybe that's just it...I need to trust that I know what I need to do to recover, need to listen to that voice inside of me, take hold of each moment, and just keep on living. The right decisions will come when I stop forcing them and just listen to myself. The best plans will come when I stop planning them. My life will become the one He desires and one better than I can dream of if I stop holding it back and just keep living.