As I sit at my dining room table on Thanksgiving Eve, it occurs to me that I ought to write something for tomorrow, the untilmate American foodie holiday, but I’m finding myself at a loss. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, in fact it’s quite the opposite, I simply don’t know where to start.
This photo was taken on Thanksgiving of 2010. I was visiting home from college, and I couldn’t wait to see my family. What I could have done without was the whole “tons of food that I had to navigate” thing. This was a few years after I had been anorexic, but I was often forgetting to eat (on purpose) and priding myself on how little I could eat in a day. I remember riding the bus home, anxious about how much I was going to have to eat in a weekend and how long it would take me to burn it off. It was very important to me that my family see me eat, and that they not worry about my health. On the other hand, I wanted more than anything to hear the sweetest of all compliments, “Maddy, you’re getting so thin!” It was music to my ears, even if it came from worried family members.
Wind back the clock even further to four years before this photo was taken, and we’ll arrive at one of the worst days of my entire life. I really can’t overstate how insanely difficult Thanksgiving is if you have an eating disorder. Picture the thing that you are most afraid of in the wold, now picture your Nanna forcing you to eat it. It’s a day full of fake smiles and constant anxiety about how much food there is, and how you’re going to make it through. The usual “I ate earlier” lie won’t work because these people have been with you all day. Your mind races. How many times can you skquirel away food in your checks and spit it out in your napkin before you get caught with a bunch of food in your lap? How many bathroom breaks are a reasonable amount for a dinner? Two? Seven? The bathroom is too close to the dinning room so they’ll definitely hear you throw up. Can you maybe chew your food, spit it out in my napkin, and flush it? What will you be able to get away with before you’re grilled by a table full of people about why you’re not eating? How will you explain your weight loss? It was private hell. I mean, it really, really, really, super duper sucked.
Fast forward almost a decade later, Thanksgiving is the epitome of how far I’ve come in my recovery. I don’t mean just eating disorder recovery, I mean the lengths I’ve made towards loving my body, even if it isn’t in a contanst state of losing weight. It is a day that I look forward to instead of dreading, and thank God for that. I still like it when people call me skinny, but we’re woking on that! I am counting down the minutes until I can feast with my loved ones tomorrow, I’m wearing my stretchy pants and everything.
I have a challenge for everyone tomorrow, myself included. Try to enjoy your day with good food and good company without body shaming yourself. If you want seconds, have seconds. Try to hold off on the “Oh, I really shouldn’t,” or “I had a second piece of pie, I’m so bad!” Just eat your food and enjoy it. Don’t talk about how much you’re going to have to work out tomorrow to make up for today. Don’t talk about the diet you’re starting next week. Enjoy yourself. I know it’s easier said than done, I’m going to do my best, too. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m not really sure how to end this, my thoughts on the matter are still very scattered. Remembering past years is…. well let’s just say it’s complicated. I’m proud of where I am now, but it does make me sad to think of all the life I missed out on worrying about my weight. What am I still missing out on because of these hangups? How will I feel about it ten years from now?
Happy Turkey Day, loves! Let me know how tomorrow goes, I am thankful for each and every one of you.