Good morning on this lovely (snowy) Christmas Eve! I hope you are all well and getting in the holiday spirit. I still can’t believe Christmas is here, but it’s coming regardless of my state of preparedness, so I am doing my best to soak it all in and enjoy the season for its fleeting duration.
Over the past day or two, I have been trying to think of recovery as many little decisions rather than one huge, intimidating one. These small decisions eventually add up to full recovery, after all. It can be tempting to wake up in a bad mood or, as is sometimes the case with me, extremely hungry, and write off the entire day. Well, I think, I guess I’m just going to be hungry today. However, that attitude is disempowering. It relinquishes my power to that of disordered thoughts and behaviors, and lets my eating disorder be in control. Life has too much potential to knowingly sacrifice an entire day to such a destructive lifestyle, which is why I have decided to try to frame recovery not as one large, daunting endeavor but as millions of tiny decisions each and every day.
It has been lovely having my brother in town, but I am still housesitting about half an hour away, so he came up to stay with me the night before last. Yesterday morning, I woke up far too early and very hungry. For some reason, this pissed me off more than usual. Every once in a while, I get so fucking sick of questioning my need for food and I just feel entirely fed up. So, I made the logical decision to eat breakfast, making sure that I gave myself a generous portion to match my hunger level. I did so rather loudly as a way of not-so-subtly waking my brother up, and I ate before we headed out.
My next stop for the day was the gym, where I spent some time using an elliptical machine while I finished this book, which is creepy as hell but a good read. I started to get hungry again after some time exercising, and I fought the urge to keep exercising through the hunger. I have made the choice to do that many, many times and it has never improved my quality of life. So, I cut my exercise session a few minutes short and headed out to meet a friend for coffee.
When I got to the coffeeshop, I was rather hungry again. I bought a piece of coffee cake, but I felt strange eating in front of my friend when she was not eating. Initially, I was tempted to surrender to hunger. Disordered thoughts beckoned to me, telling me that I would never stop being hungry, that I was unique in the worst possible way, so I might as well just get used to it. Although I got the usual, temporarily self-affirming feeling from the choice to not eat my snack, it was followed by the dread of knowing that I was choosing sickness over health. Having a change of heart, I ate part of the coffee cake and enjoyed my friend much more than I would have if I had been starving the entire time.
After my coffee date, I headed home and made some lunch before my appointment with my therapist. I made eggs with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and avocado. I had a side of some lime tortilla chips and salsa, as well as an apple and the greatest cheese in the universe.
Following my appointment, I met up with another friend to exchange Christmas gifts. We had tea together and chatted, and I ate some of the roasted almonds that she gave me on my walk home from her house.
When I got home, I realized that I still needed to scour the thrift store for some Christmas gifts for my brother. Don’t worry, I’m not a bad sister. Thrift store gifts are right up his alley. I was still hungry after my walk home, and, although I was tempted to use shopping as a distraction from said hunger, I ate an apple on my way to the store instead.
Having found some fantastic gifts for my big bro, I headed back home to meet up with him and my mom. We had a few more errands to run, and I knew that it would probably be quite a while before I would get to eat dinner. Because hungry Erin = cranky Erin, and because I had been consistently hungry for a good part of the day, I made the decision to eat some yogurt before we left. Siggi’s is always on sale at my grocery store because people clearly have no idea how wonderful it is. Fine by me!
I was right about the errand-running being an ordeal, so I was glad that I made the decision to eat something before going out. A couple of hours into shopping, however, I was feeling the need to eat some dinner. I don’t know how things go in your family when it comes to making dinner decisions, but in ours it sometimes feels like negotiating a plea agreement. After driving around for what felt like an eternity, I was pretty much ready to gnaw on the interior paneling of the car by the time we decided to get a take and bake pizza to eat at home while decorating our Christmas tree.
I stopped at the store to buy some salad ingredients, and I instinctively went for the dressing with the lowest caloric value proudly displayed on the front of the bottle. I took a couple of steps toward the checkout lane and paused for a moment to ask myself if I actually wanted that kind of dressing. Feeling indignant and irritated at my disorder, knowing that it was calling the shots, I turned around and grabbed the dressing that I really wanted, mumbling, “Fuck you,” quietly under my breath. Fortunately, there were no impressionable children nearby. At home, I ate some pizza and my tasty salad, knowing that I had made the right choice in that moment.
After our tree was all decorated and we had watched some hilarious home videos from my first Christmas (where I was cute as fuck, by the way), I ran back out on the town to get some more last-minute gifts. Partway through shopping, I started to get hungry again and I ate a couple of Hershey’s Kisses while I finished up. Did I second guess my choice to eat when hungry? Of course. Did I let that stop me from making the right decision? Absolutely not.
After shopping, I headed home and watched The Office for a while before heading to bed. And, of course, I had my usual toasty snack before I called it a night. I ate the toast because I was hungry and because I hate nothing more than waking up in the middle of the night, hunger clawing at the inside of my stomach.
Recovery can feel like an all-or-nothing pursuit, but breaking it down into a series of small decisions has been helpful to me. If I ask myself, in that moment, what the right choice is, I am usually able to come up with the answer. In one of her books, Jenni Schaefer talks about the concept of doing the next right thing. This is excellent advice, in my opinion. Every decision I make is certainly not the right one, but I know that I have a million more chances to do the right thing on any given day.
That finishes up this week’s What I Ate Wednesday post! Thanks to Peas and Crayons for hosting, and I hope you have a beautiful day full of of festive Christmas anticipation! And, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful day full of your own reasons to celebrate!