I woke up yesterday morning with a smile on my face and a pep in my step. It was my birthday and this year I found myself truly content and at peace. I always shrugged off my birthday. I was never one to have birthday countdowns and I envied the people who did. It is not surprising that my lack of self-esteem kept me from fully embracing and celebrating the day that, well, celebrates ME.
Most people have their favorite cake. My sister is strawberry, my mom is ‘Gaga White Cake,’ Jordan is cookie cake (yes, he is 12). I never had ‘a cake’ because I did not know what I liked. It is hard to love a cake when it is your worst enemy. My eating disorder robbed me of the God-given right to have a favorite cake.
My junior year of college I went home for my birthday. We had the typical family celebration with food, wine and, of course, a beautiful and yummy cake. As I packed the car to head back to Oxford, my mom brought out the remaining birthday cake (which was quite a bit). I remember panic set in as she lovingly placed the cake in the backseat saying how I could share with my sorority sisters.
The cake never made it to the Kappa house. When there was food anywhere around, the eating disorder never let me forget it. And this drive was no exception. One hour into the drive I could no longer take the voice screaming in my head about the cake in the backseat. The voice wanted me to eat the whole cake or throw it away. It just needed to be GONE.
I pulled off the interstate to figure out what to do. I just could not bring myself to toss the birthday cake in the trash. That birthday cake represented love. The love that my family had for me. Sadly, I was too sick to ever fully take in and accept their love. I could not throw away that love. That year I passed it on.
I spotted a homeless couple in the median and for some unknown reason thought they should have it (because that is what homeless people really want: half eaten sheet cake). To this day I still laugh at what these people must have thought as this blonde sorority girl drove up in her Jeep plastered in Ole Miss and KKG stickers. I will never forget their bewildered looks when I hopped out of the car and handed them this massive (half-eaten) birthday cake. Yes, I gave homeless people birthday cake. The eating disorder makes you some crazy things.
Yesterday I did not have a cake. I had an AH-MAZING dinner at Ruth Chris’ and was able to toast to ME! My birthday cake comes tonight when my sweet family will gather at my house to celebrate me…again. I will lovingly accept the food and yes, the cake.
Thanks to my hard work in recovery, the eating disorder voice remains silenced. There is no need to ‘plan’ how and what I will eat for my birthday. But most of all, there is no doubt that I deserve a day (or two) to celebrate me. This year I plan to have my cake…and eat it too!