Thanksgiving... my thoughts, the bad, but the good as well

I was going to write a post about everything I hate about Thanksgiving, but I decided to go a different route. I don't particularly like thanksgiving, but that has a lot to do with my eating disorder. It's been a long time since I've spent a Thanksgiving with my family, and that has mostly to do with my eating disorder. My eating disorder gets in the way of me enjoying things like this with my family. It causes great anxiety around food and people, and especially when you put the two together.

Over the last two years, I've overcome my battle of being able to eat with my immediate family, for a long time I couldn't even be seen with food around them. If I went to the grocery store, I'd shove the food in my purse until I got up to my room where I could hide it from my family. I cooked in my room using a toaster oven, and ate in my room. Never did I think I'd be able to eat in front of people. I've even overcome barriers about eating in front of strangers (although I still have a lot of anxiety around it, and prefer to eat in my car). But something about eating with my relatives, especially on a holiday, is still really hard for me. I can't wrap my mind around doing it, or even why I have such great anxiety with doing it.

Maybe if it was just one person, or two, I'd be okay with it. But I feel like when my eating disorder became apparent to the rest of my family, it was such an awkward experience. I felt like people were watching everything I ate with a critical eye. And even though I'm much healthier, physically, now, I still wonder what goes through people's minds when they see me eat. "Is she going to eat that?" "Why isn't she eating x?" "Wow, that's a lot of z!" "She doesn't eat like she has an eating disorder." All these things, I don't know why they matter, but it makes me super anxious to be around my family and food at the same time.

It's been years since I've spent Thanksgiving with my family.
2008 - Our house. I was working for most of it, but came home for dinner. I remember being called fat at the dinner table (not in those exact words), and purging afterwards (not because of the comment, but because I was pretty in my ED at this time).
2009 - Deep in my ED. Thanksgiving was at my relatives house. I stayed home because I was too sick and emaciated, and was afraid of what people would say to me. This was about a week before I went into treatment for the first time.
2010 - At our house. I remember engaging with my cousins when they first came. But someone asked me if I was going to eat thanksgiving with them and I said no, and they replied that they guessed that. I remember spending the rest of thanksgiving in my room except when I had to come out for family pictures. I also remember scouting the house for food to binge and purge on when my family was out paintballing.
2011 - I was in Texas, I remember crying in Texas because I knew I would never spend another holiday with my family, because I was so deep in my ED at that time, and that made me sad because I love my family.
2012 - At our house. I remember stacking suitcases and a table up against my door and keeping the lights off and playing depressing music to tune out what was going on downstairs. I kept my door blocked because I was terrified someone was going to come in and see me, to see my existence in general.
2013 - I believe it was at my relatives house. I spent it at home, again. I don't remember too much about this thanksgiving, other than that I was deep in my ED, and my therapist said I spent a session crying about how I would have liked to have been able to spend it with my family. About a month before going into treatment for a second time (which pretty much changed my life for the better).
2014 - Much better year, but still to scared to celebrate with my family. It was at our house this year. I spent thanksgiving in VA with my friend, but I had also made a goal with my therapist that I would engage with my family at least once while they were over. And I did. I tried to say hi to most of my family, and I chatted with my cousins for a little bit. It was a stretch, but a huge success for me. I'd avoided my family for years, and to actually be able to talk to them, and not have them avoid me felt amazing.
2015 - This Thanksgiving. I'm not where I was last year. My family is in West Virginia with my family celebrating. I wish I had had the courage to go. I think if it was just one day, I could have done it. I did have commitments, but to be honest I could have gotten out of them. I'm sad that I'm still not in a place where I feel like I can enjoy the holidays with my family, as those are some of my best memories from when I was younger. I'm scared that I'll never come to a point where I'll be able to celebrate with them. Even if I do, I feel like I've broken strong relationships that I used to have, and that holidays with my family will never be what they were.

But for the good.... I have a lot to be thankful for. This list may come across as slightly silly, but all the things I'm thankful for I truly am.
  • God. I'm learning to love God more and more everyday, and see His love for me. I know God created me with a purpose, and that purpose is beyond my eating disorder. I'm grateful that I have a God that will love me regardless of what I do, and will continue to fight this battle with me if I let him.
  • Unicorns. Unicorns have a very stable place in my heart and always will. They've given me something to be passionate about, to bring me joy. Anything unicorn related always lights up my heart.
  • Pumpkin. I'm thankful that this year I've actually been able to try a lot of the pumpkin products that I was once too terrified to try.
  • My family. They've been there for me through so much. Even after years of shutting them away from me, they still love and support me.
  • Coffee. I love love love coffee. I don't drink it much anymore, because a lot of times it reminds me of the darkness of my eating disorder. But when I'm drinking it (and following my meal plan), it makes me feel warm and comforted.
  • Natty and Boh. My two sweet dogs. I love everything about them. They make me feel not alone and comforted, they bring me joy, and give me someone to love.
There's a lot more I'm grateful for. Especially people. But know if you're reading this, I'm probably thankful for you, because you've somehow made a difference in my life (and because you're reading this and bumping up my views ;) ).

1 comment:

  1. Jessica (anewlife123)November 28, 2015 at 1:26 AM

    I think that in time you will get to enjoy Thanksgiving with your family again. Don't give up on that hope. Things are better than they were. They aren't where you want them to be but that doesn't mean you are stuck here forever.