A Turkey Hero

To say life is busy right now is an understatement. A huge understatement. Meetings, Planning, Feedings, Designing, Packing, Laundry, Promoting, Bath Time, Sharing, Marketing, Entertaining, Dirty Diapers, Tweeting, Cooking, REPEAT. LIFE. IS. NUTS.

Southern Smash is in two weeks and it is CRUNCH time. Plus, Jordan and I are leaving to go skiing next week. Oh, and did I mention my son turns one this weekend. Needless to say, the petting zoo and over-the-top themed party got scratched from my to-do list. Sorry, my son, a smash cake and family who loves you will have to suffice.

In the midst of all this chaos, I am yet again reminded of how absolutely incredible my life in recovery is. In the last 48 hours I have been busier than I’ve been in a very, very long time. At one point yesterday, my husband called to see what I was doing. So I told him exactly what I was doing at that moment:

“Cooking lasagna, making a wreath for Manning’s birthday, approving Smash postcards from the printer, doing laundry and cleaning the house…oh and doing this all while holding our 25+ pound son.”

He laughed at me and quickly hung up. Smart man. A few hours later, my in-laws pulled into the driveway. As we enjoyed a wonderful night of homemade lasagna (made my me) and showed off Manning’s latest tricks, I couldn’t help but smile as I realized that in the middle of an overly chaotic day, I was able to take care of ME. This is a concept that is still fairly new in my world.

When I was in my disorder, there was no eating allowed when life got chaotic. I was too busy to eat. Eating meant I was weak and lazy. I fueled myself with pills, caffeine and even cigarettes when I was desperate. This morning I found myself in that same situation. My day began with an 8am ‘brainsmashing’ session at a local coffee shop. By the time noon rolled around it was time for me to head to LSU for my next meeting. It had been hours since I ate and I was coming off of a caffeine overdose. I found that habitual restrictive mentality tugging at me, saying, “Just grab a diet coke and eat later.” It is scary how engrained the eating disorder mentality is in me. Someone once said to me that my eating disorder will never be cured, it can only be managed. And on days like today (and yesterday), I have to really be ‘on guard’ and manage harder than usual because it is simply second nature for me to get the ‘eat later’ mentality to creep in when life is busy. I have spent more time living in my disorder than not, so I still have to fight that natural pull of the illness. Thankfully, recovery has given me the skills to not just recognize that eating disorder voice, but to also fight back.

I knew I needed to eat lunch before my next meeting, but I still have trouble eating alone in a restaurant. I thought maybe I’d try to tackle that eating alone challenge today. I walked to the counter in the coffee shop to order a sandwich, but it was honestly too much for me: eating alone, not being familiar with the food and being so torn about eating lunch in general because by nature during a busy time I would skip it. I left the lunch line, walked back to my table and packed my things. My next meeting was approaching and I needed to go. My heart began to race. I knew I needed lunch, but it seemed too complicated…which made me realize how desperately I needed food. My mind was starting to fog over to that over-caffeinated, food deprived state. The place where your body goes numb and your mind can hardly think to put the car in drive. And in that moment, I had to fight really hard to do what is a seemingly easy task to most people: I bought lunch. It was at a place I am more familiar with and it was just a turkey sandwich, but it was lunch. And I ate. I chose to take care of myself. I chose to slow down and take care of myself because there is no one who can do that but me. And one thing I’m figuring out is that I deserve it. I deserve to take the time and effort for me.

As I walked out of the sandwich shop, turkey sandwich in tow, you would have looked at me and thought I just won the lottery. This monumental turkey sandwich story might seem odd for some people and some may not understand its significance, but I spent majority of my life in an over-caffeinated and food deprived state. To the ‘normal’ American, it was lunch. But to me it was this seemingly mundane sandwich represented everything I’ve fought for: the freedom to take care of myself, the ability to slow down and meet my needs, the permission to love myself enough that I can take care of me. I lived majority of my life not taking care of myself and to have the ability to do that now…well, I don’t think it will ever get old.

Recovery comes in these small turkey sandwich moments. People think you go to treatment you are cured. Or the fact that it’s been two years and that I have had a baby makes me ‘all better.’ That is far from the truth. I work for recovery…I work hard. Every. Day. And days like today are reality checks for me. These seemingly simply tasks signify a giant victory, another step further into my recovery journey. These moments are often and each one is sweeter than the one before.

Recently, I casually said I should make a list of all of the ways my life has changed in recovery. I decided to start jotting moments like today down…within minutes this is what I had:

There is food in the pantry.
I can eat sweets in the middle of the day and not have anxiety.
I can eat French fries.
I can order a burger.
I can eat and enjoy King Cake.
I can eat and enjoy crawfish.
I can throw on clothes and rush out the door.
I can get dressed without paralyzing tears.
I love to shop.
I get to discover entrée items outside the confines of the salad menu.
I can complete a project.
I follow through with projects.
I live outside the box without being paralyzed by fear of failure.
I can grocery shop without calorie and label anxiety.
I can grocery shop quickly.
I can plant flowers and do outside activities without counting calories burned.
I can breathe.
I can take an afternoon nap.
I can sit and watch a movie.
I get to have PJ Days.
I can drive without nearly wrecking.
I can drive long distances without falling asleep at the wheel.
I can cook (and eat) dinner with husband.
I enjoy cooking.
I enjoy grocery shopping.
I love going out to dinner.
I can have a last-minute lunch date.
I don’t have any more secrets to hide.
I am living authentically.
I can take my dogs on walk without calorie counting or need to run.
I exercise because it feels good to move my body.
I have Brain power.
I can tailgate without food fears.
I enjoy tailgating without getting sick from eating.
I can accept a last-minute date night invitation.
I can be creative.
My purse is no longer weighted down with secret pills.
I enjoy baking (whether I’m good at it is TBD).
I like what I see in the mirror.
I love taking pictures.
I love being in pictures.
I forget what food we have in the kitchen.
I rediscovered my love for music (all my music is no longer just workout music).
I can THINK!
I can pay it forward.
I can eat other people’s food without paralyzing anxiety.
I can be me.
And the list could go on forever…

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  • Chrystal
    February 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Hi fellow ch person here I really really loved reading this, i have been thinking about this line all day long “Someone once said to me that my eating disorder will never be cured, it can only be managed.” How true that is and i never really think about it!! thank you for sharing

  • marthakate
    February 24, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Sweet Friend,
    What joy it is to read this post!! These are HUGE victories!! PROUD of YOU and your journey!! Lots of love!! MK