Hey there, readers! I’m in Indiana for a few more days, and I am feeling quite glad that I came on this trip. It has provided me opportunities to remember the town that I fell in love with, and to remember the person that I became in college before anorexia. Getting to this place of experiencing new memories has been a process, however, and I’m linking up with Amanda to share some thoughts on balancing the memories of a place that simultaneously holds visceral feelings of pain and joy.
When we arrived in town on Monday, I was overwhelmed with more feelings of grief than I had anticipated. Places and memories that my friends and family looked back upon fondly held a great deal of pain for me. While the local coffee house reminds my friends of coffee dates and study sessions, all I could remember was the taste of iced tea with packets of Splenda dumped in it. When my mom mentioned the gorgeous bike trail not too far away, I had visions of my grueling, frigidly cold bike rides each morning before work. Even Goodwill, the place where we scored our greatest thrift finds and last-minute Halloween costumes, gave me a twinge of pain as I remembered having to buy smaller and smaller clothes nearly every week. I was not sure how the rest of the week would go, and I was not entirely looking forward to spending days reliving some of my worst memories.
As time went on, my feelings of grief began to be replaced by feelings of anger. I became angry at my eating disorder for turning my college dining hall from a place of shared meals, laughter about whatever strange food combinations the staff had conjured up, and stealth schemes to sneak fruit back to the dorms into the place where I hastily ate vegetables doused with vinegar each and every day. I became angry at it for overshadowing memories of carefree nights out with friends at authentic Mexican restaurants with memories of picking out and eating only the vegetables from my quesadilla and washing it down with Diet Coke. I became angry at it for turning my favorite place to walk along the river into the place where I ran for hours on end, no matter the weather, and completely under-fueled.
As my anger boiled under the surface, I became increasingly determined to not allow my eating disorder ruin my college experience. Truthfully, I had some of the best memories of my life in this place. I met friends who continue to love and support me here, and I grew into the strong, determined person that I am today. My eating disorder has taken too much from me; I refuse to allow it to take this, too.
In the days that I have been here since, I have done a fair bit of reassessing. I have walked along the river with a pace of ease and serenity, a place where my starved body once pounded its exhausted feet into the gravel with great force. I have walked down 8th Street and spent time looking at all of the gorgeous houses, a street where I once sobbed on the phone to my mom as I expressed how terrified I was of leaving for the summer to work at camp. I have eaten real ice cream at the ice cream shop where I gingerly nibbled a sugar-free lump of ice cream two years ago. I am taking this place back, because it simply holds too much good for me to dwell on the bad. I do not know when I will visit here next, but I am grateful that I am not going to allow my eating disorder to control my memories of this place. It has controlled so much of my life already, and enough is enough.