…and I’ll cry if I want to.
Wait. That’s not how it goes, is it? Close enough.
I turned 26 on Tuesday! I survived another year — and to be sure, I was just surviving.
For the most part, my birthday was really nice. I got tons of lovely “happy birthday” messages from friends and family, went out for a banana split with my dad, and ended with beers and gifts and food at my favourite gastropub.
The middle part, however, gave me cause for worry. On my way to my dietitian appointment, I got a text message from a friend, telling me she wouldn’t be coming to my birthday celebration on Saturday and, for that matter, couldn’t really even be friends with me any more. Too much of my life right now is eating disorder and treatment and she just has no interest in being involved in that. To her credit, she has stuck with me through the worst of my eating disorder and was one of the first people to encourage me to go to residential treatment. Maybe when I’m done with treatment we can be friends again, she said.
To say I was shocked was an understatement. “Hurt” is also an understatement. I also had no idea how to process this information. I still don’t, to be honest. I cried a little as I was driving, but quickly distracted myself with music and news on the radio.
So I was already a little on-edge going into my appointment with my dietitian yesterday. I started to get weepy when she explained how my body, which used to be so easily able to restrict, is going to fight back now and demand to be fed. I kept thinking, “Why can’t I go back to restricting?” and was angry at my body for defecting once again.
Then she weighed me. Backwards, of course, since no dietitian in their right mind would let me know my weight right now. Unfortunately, as I stepped off the [digital] scale, I caught sight of the number. And commenced freaking out.
I immediately began to think about dinner — what could I eat that would do the least caloric damage? How could I get out of dessert? How could I possibly even keep my mind on the friends who were graciously giving up a Tuesday night to celebrate with me?
I let myself freak out for about 30 minutes, just enough time for me to get to the restaurant. Then I resolved: I am not going to let this eating disorder ruin ANOTHER birthday for me.
You see, last year on my birthday, I spent the afternoon in therapy, then went on a walk with a friend. Between those two things, however, I spent half an hour crying in the car because Trader Joe’s didn’t have the ONE wrap I felt safe eating for dinner. So I had to skip dinner. And I cried about skipping dinner and I cried about the fact that I was letting my eating disorder run my life. This year was NOT going to be a repeat.
So I joined my friends for a celebration at my favourite restaurant. I ordered what sounded good to me (and would fulfill most of my exchanges), not what sounded good to my eating disorder. I enjoyed craft beers and laughs with friends. I went straight home, avoiding the gym. I marveled at how normal it felt and how far I’ve come in a year.
There is still a long way to go, friends. But it’s a start.