In honor of Thanksgiving tomorrow, I decided that I would do a little reflecting on where I was last year at this time and what I am thankful for right now.
Last year, I was weighing myself probably three times a day. Any number on the scale was not low enough. My birthday was on Thanksgiving and my Mom’s side of the family was coming over. There were probably around 25 people at my house. First of all, I hated holidays in the middle of my eating disorder. They went against my eating schedule completely and would totally screw up my day. When you are suffering from an eating disorder, one of the worst things that can happen is to have your strict daily schedule messed up. We had to make two turkeys for all the people coming and I was furious with myself for eating some stuffing and turkey the night before. Doing that was enough to make me not eat anything the whole next day, but that was out of the question because my family was coming over. I was worried about all the food that was going to be at our house, in front of me all day long. I was worried about my family coming over and asking me about my weight. I was worried about how the whole day would pan out and how my anxiety would be. Whenever there was a lot of food around me that I wouldn’t allow myself to eat, it was so hard for me. I would want to eat all of it, and I had such a hard time resisting. Well, Thanksgiving was an exception. I ate everything. Basically all of my family brought some sort of food, and it was all delicious. When dinner was over, it was time for dessert. Well, because it was my birthday, that meant that there was birthday cake. It was Thanksgiving, so that meant that there was pie. And cookies. And other desserts. I only wanted to have pumpkin pie, but I had to have some of the beautiful birthday cake that my mom ordered for me. I ended up eating a ton of food, and I felt so guilty. I could feel that I was becoming paralyzed with anxiety. I couldn’t wait for everyone to leave so I could just get on my computer and try to distract myself.
Now, I am so thankful for the place that I am at. I am actually looking forward to Thanksgiving and the food that I am going to get. I am going to eat what I want because I know that I do not eat like I will tomorrow every day. I am going ot take my time and listen to my body’s cues to me. I am going to listen for when my body tells me that I am full and to stop eating. I will also listen to my body if it tells me that something was so good that I have to have more of it.
Okay, more things I’m thankful for:
I am thankful for my family. They have been so supportive of me through everything and continue to remind me how proud they are of me. It’s wonderful. I am so much more comfortable talking to them about anything; I now know that it is going to be near impossible to disappoint my family.
I am thankful for my doctors. They have showed me that there is no shame in what I am going through. They showed me that there is shame, however, in holding my thoughts in and not reaching out for help when I know I need it. They have gotten me on medicine to help stabilize my mood and to significantly lower my depression. Through them, I have learned healthy coping skills, I have gained acceptance of myself and, most importantly, insight into the underlying causes of my eating disorder. I have been able to gain closure on things that had bothered me for years that I had never been able to let go. I still have not been able to forgive Andrea for what she did to me, but I have hope that one day that day will come. I will realize that she probably has things a lot harder than me because she can’t deal with her own problems enough to be able to be stable with herself. I have discovered that I want to share my story with the world. My dietitian began this by letting me write a testimonial about my story to be put on her website. My therapist suggested that I write a book, and I decided that it would be a great thing for me to do. I need to visit my doctors less and less, but I feel that they are helping me more than ever.
I am so thankful for my friends. They support me through everything and are literally there for me all the time.
My Remuda ladies showed me that I am not alone in what I am going through; that there are people who can understand what I am going through and the irrational thoughts that would flood my mind. I have stayed in contact with most of them and I cherish their friendship more than most things in my life. They were patient with me when I did not want to open up to anything and held my hand through every one of the hardest steps of my recovery. They cried with me, they laughed with me, they lived with me. They are sisters.
Gabrielle has been my friend since preschool. All of my childhood memories involve her. I am so glad that we are still such great friends. EVenn though she lives over 1,000 miles away and we don’t talk that often, each time we do it is like we talk all the time. She has been there for me through everything. She was here when I made the decision that I needed to go to treatment. She hugged me and told me that everything was going to be better. She made me feel okay about my decision to do so. She sent me so many letters and care packages when I was away at Remuda. I stayed at her house when my mom was getting surgery in 6th grade. She helped to take my mind off things. I know that she will always be in my life and I will always be there for her no matter what.
Amanda has been my other best friend since 5th grade. Coincidentally, we lived steps away from each other for years and never knew it. Once we became friends, we were at each other’s house every day. Sleepovers were a weekly event. We did everything together and had endless inside jokes. We have bumps in our friendships but they have made us stronger. I know that I can call her anytime and she will be able to talk to me. She will come listen to me when I need a shoulder to cry on. She helped me when I was breaking out of my depression. She took me out with her and introduced me to my new friends. She helped me to learn that I can trust people again. One of my best recent memories with Amanda is when I was having a really rough night. She left class early to come talk to me. Even though I told her that she didn’t need to do that, but she did anyway. That meant so, so, so much to me. I can’t thank her enough for it.
Colleen is another one of my great friends. We were never really close in high school, and I regret that because she is so awesome. I have become really close with her over the past year and I always have a great time with her. She is so nice and I can talk to her and know she will understand. It makes me feel really great that she feels comfortable talking to me about her problems and trusts my advice. That really helps me trust myself more and to know that I can make good decisions.
Brittany is my new roommate and she is amazing. Even though I have only known her for a couple months, I can tell that she will be one of my best friends. She gives me the absolute best advice and always stops me from reading too far into things. We stay up late every day laughing and having the best times. I can talk to her about anything and she can tell when something is wrong. She doesn’t beat around the bush and will tell me what I need to hear. She helps me to know that I am an amazing person despite how some guys make me feel. When she tells me these things, it really makes me want to cry, and it takes a lot of me to hold back the tears. For the short time we have known each other she can tell what I am talking about when I make ambiguous tweets or Facebook updates. I can’t wait to continue to be friends with her and make even more great memories.
Lacey and Megan, our neighbors, are so amazing. They’re not only hilarious, but really caring. I feel so comfortable talking to them and opening up to them about what I have been through. They have made me feel more comfortable talking about my struggles by not judging me and not knowing me as “anorexic Erin”. They know me as simply “Erin”. That is one of the best things that I could ask for at this point. I don’t tag on anorexic to my identity and it’s wonderful that they don’t either. I would do anything for them and I always have such an awesome time hanging out with them. Like with Brittany, I can’t wait to get to know them even more.
My friends that I have made at Hood have changed my life for the better. When I started this semester I didn’t want to stay here. I was dead-set on transferring to LIM in New York City. As the date for my college visit approached, I was getting less and less excited. I was dreading the thought of leaving all my new friends right when I was getting to know them all. They helped me to make the decision to stay at Hood College for the rest of my college career. I will always be thankful for that. I am so excited to make some of the best friends that I will probably ever have. I know that the people here will help me regain my ability to trust again. I may even find a nice guy somewhere along the way! Who knows. I have my hopes up, but it’s not going to be my main goal.
Finally, I am thankful that I have direction in life. I am thankful that I have a (general) idea of what I want to do in life. It gives me motivation every day. When I don’t want to go to class, I know that I have to. My aspirations motivates me in my recovery. If I didn’t have life dreams, I probably would be dead right now. My dreams for the future were the only thing keeping me alive at one point, and I owe it to myself to see them lived out in some way.