The past two days (Sunday and Monday), I've worked an earlier shift than usual, such that I'm coming home from the bakery when it's still light out. Other than my initial interview, this was probably the first time I haven't driven home in the pitch black. Although my new town is getting distinctly less new--I can take a wrong turn and sort myself out without having to use the GPS on my phone--I don't have every little facet memorized like I did in my hometown in Michigan. The route is familiar, and I don't have to think very hard about where I'm going and when to turn.
But when I was driving home on Sunday, I started to feel lost. I approached one of my normal turns, and for a split second, I couldn't remember if I was turning the right road or not. It looked so different. There was grass and a wildflower or two. I could see a few signs in the distance. Clearly, this wasn't the right place to turn.
Then I realized: I was so used to seeing the intersection in the dark that I barely recognized it in the daytime.
The more I thought about this split second confusion-turned-realization, the more I realized just how much it seemed to encompass recovery for me. I have been so used to living my life in the dark--i.e., with the eating disorder--that I don't recognize my life now that it's brighter out. Often, I take a look around me and have this brief moment of panic, thinking Wait, this isn't me, this isn't my life, what the HELL is going on?!? Much of my life isn't all that different from during the eating disorder- I go to work, I chat with friends, I write, I feed the cat. But it's a totally different experience doing these tasks without the haze of starvation and depression hanging over me. Everything seems so unfamiliar because I'm used to the darkness.
I have to remember that the strangeness will pass, and soon I will get used to the light.
What's interesting is that I never had that whoa... moment when I first drove home from work in the dark. I knew where I was. I knew where I was headed. I've driven in the dark many times before, and so I never gave it much thought. And so went the eating disorder. Maybe the darkness descended so slowly that I adapted and didn't notice the change. Or maybe the darkness seemed somehow natural and I never did that double-take that I did when I started driving home during the daytime.
I don't mind driving at night, but I much prefer driving during the day. Aside from the safety issues, I enjoy being able to enjoy the scenery (what little there is around here). Regardless of when I'm driving, I always like to have the windows down and the volume up. Life without an eating disorder is much more interesting- I can see and experience so much more, even if the scenery isn't all that great.
It's not that the drive home--or even my life itself--changed for me. It's my ability to see and recognize what's going on that has changed. And this shift in perception has made more of a difference than I ever thought possible.