Happy Monday lifers,
Wow, it’s been a long time since I have written a blog. There are so many times that I have thought to myself, “I need to write about this,” and then come home to get swept away with life and don’t find the time.
But tonight, as I was standing in the gas station by my house, ordering the best hamburger in the world, I had this overwhelming want to write. So here I am.
Before I go into how I got to standing in the middle of a gas station on a Monday night with my fiancé let me go back and recap quickly the new basic facts of my life needed to understand the full meaning of this post.
I think the biggest news is since I have last written is that I am now engaged! I actually have been wanting to write several blog posts about this, but again, just have not found the time-which I am hoping will soon change now that I am trying to learn to say no to some things.
I am engaged to the man of my dreams, to my best friend, to the person who loves me wholly, fully and completely on good days and bad days. The very minute that he proposed to me, I remember thinking to myself, “This is the best gift my recovery has given me.”
If I was not in this long, hard journey-every single day to keep my recovery, I absolutely would not be marrying my best friend.
It is my recovery that has taught me how to love myself enough to allow myself to be loved by my soul mate. It is my recovery that has taught me how to present enough in the moment to grow into the mindful, present person I am today. It is my recovery that has shown me how to appreciate the small moments and how it is oK to celebrate the big ones-and it is my recovery that has allowed me to learn to live my life again.
All that being said, planning a wedding is wonderful and amazing, yet we all know, stressful at the same time. Even without an eating disorder in the mix, I think planning a wedding is stressful. But add recovering from anorexia in there and it is another ball game.
But I knew when I first got engaged that we would have a long engagement. This February will mark a year since we have been engaged-and we get married all the way in July of 2017.
I knew I had a choice to make.
I could spend the entirety of my wedding planning triggered, or I could spend it enjoying each moment and being present. And I had to make the choice quick.
It was only the morning after my fiancé and I got engaged that we had this big fight about getting in shape for the wedding.
He had something like, “yeah, I am excited to get in shape for the wedding.” He, who does not have any history of an eating disorder, totally meant that in a healthy way. He wanted to get in shape for his wedding. It was simple and healthy and for him, exciting.
But in my already triggered mind from all the thoughts running in my head from the night before, I couldn’t hear that. All I heard was, “why do I have to get in shape for the wedding? Why don’t you love me how I am? Why would you even say that?”!
But, he never even once mentioned me! Never. And when I said those comments to him, he looked at me stunned and in disbelief. I still remember him saying, “Shira, what are you talking about ? You look great. I am talking about myself.”
The reason I have not blogged about this yet or even told anyone about this yet, not even my twin sister who I tell everything to, is because I have felt ashamed.
Here I was, the morning after the happiest day of my life, and I got into a fight with the man who just said he loves me and wants to marry me because I let my eating disorder trigger me and set me off over a comment that he truly was innocently saying about himself?
It made me sad for a long time and I really tried to brush it off and not think about it-but it still gets to me sometimes. I feel better now that I have written about it.
I bet you he will read this blog tonight and not even remember what I am talking about. But to me, and in my world, that was a monumental moment.
I had to decide right then and right there in that exact moment how this wedding planning was going to go.
I knew it was my choice.
I had a choice in how Ed will play a role in my wedding and I knew that I had worked way too hard to even give him that power.
So that day, right then and there, I decided that Ed will not be any part of planning my wedding. To say he won’t be present at all is a total lie and not even realistic, but he will be and has been since that day, a mere background echoed voice that gets weaker and weaker and more distant and more distant each time I make a recovery decision without him.
So here I am now, almost one year into planning the wedding of my dreams and 215 days exactly from marrying my best friend, and I can honestly sit here and tell you that I am in the best place with my body and with my recovery that I think I have ever been.
This was not always an apparent thing and I worried for months that I would be triggered. I still worry. We see so many things on slimming for the wedding and crash dieting for the wedding, it is hard not to get completely lost in that.
But with the support of my amazing and strong family, other fighters, friends and fiancé I find myself standing strong, tall, proud and feeling beautiful with who I am.
But that did not come easy. I worked for it. I still do work for it.
Once I knew the date that my family and I were going wedding dress shopping, I planned it in my mind for months.
I would go over the image of me trying on dresses and my entire family watching me saying how beautiful I look and me telling myself in the mirror in the wedding dress shop how beautiful I look.
And I mean months and months. I practiced over and and over and over in my mind. Because I know that once our mind does something, it begins to believe it and it will practice what it knows.
So I practiced and practiced. I practiced mantras. I practiced telling myself not to look at the size, and I thought about me looking in the mirror and loving myself.
I envisioned myself standing in the mirror, looking at myself in the perfect dress, and saying to myself, “Wow Shira, you are so beautiful. This is the one.”
Of course I had hard moments, and I think my mom and sister in the room were maybe the only ones who could feel it-in which they did a good job of pulling me out-but the hard moments were very short lived and I bounced back fast.
I remember walking away, after finding my perfect dress, thinking to myself, “I am so grateful and appreciative that I felt beautiful in my dress today. I am so grateful today was a good day.”
And I really mean that with all my heart. I sit here tonight almost in tears of joy over how grateful I was for that experience.
I pray with all my heart that I will feel the same way on my wedding day. I know I have power in that, but I also pray for a good day in recovery.
All my practice, combined with the dream team of support, I had an amazing experience.
Now take that, paired with fitting in the same size later in April, and now we have some stress I think anyone would feel.
So let’s fast forward to now: It is holiday season time. Holiday season time , AKA time of chocolate, cookies, office treats and more treats.
Which for a lot of people in recovery, can be especially hard.
This, also combined with the worst snow our area has had in forever, which has caused the gym to be closed or me not even able to get anywhere.
Combined with the winter before my wedding.
Mmmmm hmmm. Oh yeah.
It could be a complete set up for major ed triggers. Like absolute major and truly I wouldn’t even blame myself.
But for the most part, it hasn’t been. For the most part, it’s been pretty good and I think this is why.
For the first time in a long time and for the first time ever in any holiday time, I gave myself permission to let go of the rules.
I gave myself permission to let go of the schedules, and to open myself to go with the flow.
At my job they have this thing where every day of the month in December someone brings in a treat.
The first time I heard that I think I was panicked. How will I control myself? But what if I eat all the cookies every single time I walk in the break room? Those were the thoughts that came to mind because that is what happened last year.
But last year is not this year and I am a different place now.
Last year, I tried the approach of, “Don’t eat any of it.” So of course, I ended up eating all of it.
This year I decided to try something different.
I already am in a place where things are just going to have to flow. And I decided to honor that.
I am honoring letting things just ride.
If it snows and I don’t make it to the gym, so I don’t make it to the gym. Maybe that day I will have one chocolate truffle for dessert instead of my usual two.
If there are desserts at work, I told myself, I was going to be present.
“I will eat the ones I want that look really good to me and I will skip on the ones that don’t call my name.”
That was it. Those were the only guidelines I told myself.
It is almost the end of December and I feel truly in balance.
Once I let myself have whatever I wanted, I didn’t binge on anything anymore. Nothing was “temptation.” Food was ok , treats were ok, and in whatever capacity my body felt it wanted it, I allowed that to happen.
Which brings me to my final part of my blog where I was standing in the gas station tonight ordering a bacon cheeseburger).
This gas station-with the burger-was the second date my fiancé took me two years ago on our second date.
We went there because I said In-n-out was better and he said this gas station burger was better. Obviously, I thought I had it in the bag, because this place was a gas station.
Well, I was so wrong.
It was the best burger I ever had.
We now live only a few minutes from this gas station and we have not had the burger since our second date almost more than 2 years ago now. I have been craving it forever.
Tonight he picked me up from work because it was all ice in the morning and he, being the caring sweet man he is, drove me-and we pulled in to get gas.
My heart started beating kind of fast, sometimes like it does when I am about to make a decision that I am really excited about but that I have tried to talk myself out of several times before-and I told him, “Babe, I am getting a burger . Do you want one.?”
I could see he was surprised. But in the best way.
I knew he would never turn me down for a burger, especially at this gas station.
So when he was filling up gas I went inside and ordered the exact replica meal of our second date. Only this time, there is this milk shake maker thing-really is is a contraption-you pick a flavor, add it to this thing and it makes a milkshake-and I forever have wanted to try it.
I just think it is the coolest thing ever.
So we tried it. And it wasn’t the best milk shake but it was just so cool to see.
Anyway, we finally got our food. We went home and ate it. I ate it slowly. I ate it sitting down. Every part of it was mindful.
When we were on our way home and I told him, “Wow, I have to write a blog about this.”
He jokingly looked at me, laughed and said, “you are writing about a burger??”.
And I laughed , but in all seriousness in my mind, said yes.
It’s not just a burger and onion rings and a milk shake contraption.
It is me eating a hamburger on a Monday night-no special occasion, no birthday, no “binge day now and don’t eat anything later”-it is just a Monday night where I was craving a burger and got to share it with my love.
That might sound so simple to just the everyday person-a burger on a Monday night-but to me, and I think to so many of the fighters reading this-it is freedom.
That freedom is what keeps me going.
That freedom is what I fight for my recovery for.
That freedom is for saying I do to the man of my dreams-it is for me feeing beautiful on my wedding day- it is for burgers on a Monday night at a gas station- and it is to wake up every single day and continue to say, Hello Life.