Don’t know what to wear to the holiday gathering? Is everything uncomfortable? You’re not alone.
Feeling anxiety and frustration about your family giving you the “how are you doing” look and head tilt? You’re not alone.
Overcome with worry about food and calories? You’re not alone.
Filling your plate and acting like everything is okay (but not even knowing what “okay” even looks like)? You’re not alone.
Never really able to join conversations – at least not sincerely since the moment you saw the food? You’re not alone.
Not able to fully listen to the exciting news about your loved ones because ED is just too loud? You’re not alone.
Is your family hugging you and each other in sorrow and prayer for you – yet you don’t even feel any emotion? You can’t even feel anything. You’re not alone.
So far – yet so close
While writing about these old emotions five years into recovery, it still feels like it was yesterday. Even though each person is unique and their eating disorders may look very different, we sometimes share some of the same emotions. Many of these emotions take a long time to go away.
The holidays are here – they just seem to creep up quicker each year. Yet, they don’t have to be a scary or lonely time for me anymore. The words above are just a glimpse into the pain, the shame and hours I missed out on during this special time of year back then.
During treatment, I had to learn coping skills to get through these difficult times.
And most importantly, when I was out of treatment, I needed to put into action all the things I had learned. And because I made a decision to surrender what I thought was best, my holidays look totally different now.
Here are some of the skills I find most helpful during this time of year (please feel free to steal!):
- Try feeding the homeless on special holidays. It can help remind you to appreciation food.
Make food items to share with your family.
Have dinners with others in recovery before the holiday – kind of like a dry run.
Find some fun crafts to make and give away. It’s a great way to “get out of your head” and think more about others.
Read through your goals and aspirations to remind yourself why you work so hard to
achieve full recovery.
Look up quotes to use as affirmations. It’s a great distraction and helps reframe your thoughts.
Watch one of your favorite TV shows. Hopefully it’s one that can make you smile and calm your nerves.
Write a list of foods you used to really enjoy during this holiday before your eating disorder. Write why you enjoyed those foods when you were younger.
- Say affirmations out loud to yourself in the mirror. It can seem kind of ridiculous at first, but with time it will really help you begin to believe what you’re saying.
You can enjoy holidays one day – I’m proof.
Today, I see the food and genuinely enjoy the flavors and love put into it. Now I know what’s going on with my family and the exciting news each one has to share.
Today, I have new and exciting news to share as well.
Today, I am one of the last people to leave at holiday gatherings. I’m able to help clean up and appreciate each minute I have with the people who have watched me grow into the woman they always knew I could be.
My holidays are now filled with gratitude, love, life and freedom. Today, when my loved ones give me hugs goodbye, they are not feeling fear, pain or sorrow, but rather pride, joy and peace.
Recovery is hard. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done. But, IT IS POSSIBLE.
Through the hard work I did in treatment I learned more about myself than I ever knew was possible. Some of the greatest experiences and memories of my life happened during treatment. I met people who are lifelong friends and inspirations. I got to be my own inspiration.
Everyone should be able to learn who they genuinely are and how to love and accept themselves, flaws included. Some things that I saw as flaws became my greatest assets in life.
Treatment taught me to trust, to not be afraid, and to walk through anxiety with an armor of steel. That armor is made up of the amazing woman who taught me how to live a life of healing.
Was recovery painful and extremely hard? Yes. But it was worth every second of life without ED.
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. ― Theodore Roosevelt