For those with EDs, there's generally nothing exciting about this day; just another day of the same old routines. I both dreaded and needed these routines for sanity--or so I thought.
I always admired those who lived by the seat of their pants: spontaneous and adventurous. I used to try and imagine myself in their shoes and what it would feel like. I even used to physically and mentally pretend to be like the ones I admired. Whether it was eating new foods that I believed my boyhood hero, George Brett, ate or dressing like one of my peers or a notable Hollywood icon, I found great curiosity in how it would feel or how others would react. My game of "Let's Be Somebody Else" proved helpful over time, as it helped me get used to taking healthy risks and living outside the box.
But this game only lasted a day or two. It got old and I once again craved the old Gary's coming-and-going life. It was predictable, safe, and controllable. Yet, I felt controlled by it at the same time. On and on, month after month, year after year I pressed on with the mundane. I felt this was the prison I would be confined to for the rest of my life. It was depressing and discouraging.
Every now and then, however, a person would enter my life to encourage me to change things up a bit. I was invited to a party, a ball game, or to eat out. Even though I said no most of the time, thinking of all the exercise I'd miss or the calories I'd be subjected to in the presence of others, I really wanted to say yes and take a risk. On a rare occasion, I would say yes and struggle through the whole thing. When I returned home, I would assess the experience and told myself I would never do that again.
But I never gave up hope that there was an end to this madness called anorexia. I didn't know where or when, but a gnawing gut feeling told me to keep trusting my therapists and family and those who loved me. Try new things. What do you truly believe? What do you want? Is this what you want to be like in ten years? You are capable of thinking and living differently; how come you don't take the plunge and see what happens? What do you fear? My loved ones didn't have an ED. And even though I felt self-pity and wallowed in the fact that they had no idea what it was like to be me, I thought to myself I'm glad they don't because I don't particularly care being me, either.
But I just kept going, moving head and living my life and enduring the pain of my ED. The more I lived it, the more I seemed to accept that I didn't want it for the rest of my life. Taking risks brought new insights and feelings that I didn't think were as bad as my imagination made them out to be. And I lived to tell the tale. I kept trusting and moving ahead. I learned and accepted that I was capable. I wanted to stay put and not let life carry forward, but it wouldn't let me. Slowly, I accepted new ways of thinking and found hard against my arch nemesis: shame. I took a huge risk and began exploring my Christian faith in depth. The rewards strengthened my decision-making and spirit.
And I just kept going.
It's easy for strugglers of ED to fall for the temptation to stay put and not venture out into the unknown. For me, the "voice" of shame kept lying and telling me that one day I would eventually find that ever-distance peace by simply staying where I was. It will someday just drop into my lap. But following this rule brought reality home real fast. It showed sameness. It showed dreariness. It showed that peace was nowhere in sight. Nothing is ever different.
I started reasoning that maybe shame wasn't so wise afterall.
And I just kept going...but in a different direction this time--a more peaceful, fulfilling road.
Happy new year. This year, put some meaning into the word "new."
'Till next time,