The keywords in the title might as well have been arranged this way instead:
Hoping to Find the Balance (the weight-scale, in French) in the Holidays
In fact, the last couple of times I went back to my family’s house during the Holidays, and to daily life with them, I found myself thinking and acting (mostly reacting) just like the teenager I was a couple of years ago. A sick teenager, I might add. As if I had not changed at all since then. As if I had not recovered at all. As if I just wanted to blow it all up.
Yes, I acknowledge that there is still a part of me that does not want to recover. This part of me is a very obstinate little girl. She just wants to do it her way. Usually I just let her do what she wants until she gets tired of the game and realizes that what she had before is exactly what she wants so badly.
But the Holidays are particularly threatening, because I am destabilized by them. I am afraid of what will come out if I let my little girl fool around. (You know, I am very good at making something I am afraid of happen, so that I make myself right in fearing it.)
But you know what? Knowing this, and fearing this, makes me strong, actually. Because this exact fear will help me stay vigilant. Before I go back to this same house where the restrictive and compulsive eating started, I will be able to take time to think about what I did in the past Holidays, and what I don’t want to do during the coming Holidays. The word want is important to me: my little girl would obviously not like it if I had used have to instead; she would rebel instantaneously. And that would instantaneously bring me to the closet where the scale is – or to any other behaviour that is not healthy for me.
In short, this fear of the Holidays means I an aware. Aware of the danger. Aware of the steps I have taken so far on the recovery path. Aware of the love my family have for me. Aware that the Holidays are a time for loving and sharing, not for fighting (with food, with my body and mind, with others), and definitely not for cutting myself off from others. Nor from myself and my true needs.
This year, I will not be home for the Holidays. I am abroad, preparing for my homecoming in January, and taking this opportunity to visit friends and former host families. It is in some way a relief from the fear of relapsing again during time spent with my family, but being away from them is also (and mostly) a source of sadness.
With distance comes hindsight. And hindsight makes me realize what is important for me. Love. Affection. Laughter. Smiles. Balance. And not: scales, numbers, hate; not even food, in fact.
So where is the balance? I don’t know; anyway, I don’t want this scaly thing at home anymore. Instead, I will look for balance, and know that even if I end up doing things that (I think) are unhealthy for me, it is still recovery. Recovery is a forgiving path, because it considers everything as part of the process, once it has started.
That might as well be a definition of life, don’t you think?
Then, considering all this, why would I not be full of hope before the Holidays? Because I know that I will be learning, somehow.
Aimée, beautiful post! Thanks so much for your honesty. I also agree that acknowledging your feelings and that frightened little girl is so important. Because once you recognize your struggles, you can work on overcoming them, one step at a time. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!
Thanks for a great post. I reflected upon what Christmas used to be like for me as a child. Well it was one long sugar binge from 22nd (my birthday) until at least New Year’s Day. Today it is so different now that I am in recovery. My family (my kids) have different traditions that don’t involve loads of high sugary stuff. We drive around on Christmas Eve looking for Santa in the sky, we have one meal on one day and nobody ever wants dessert, we go for a walk with the dog etc. I still love this time of year. All I have given up is that dreadful feeling of gaining 10lbs by the end of 2 weeks, the guilt and remorse. I no longer worry about gaining weight as I eat the same way I normally do.
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Thank you so much, Alison, Margarita and Michele for your nice comments. Have wonderful Holidays too! And thanks Alison for showing (cause I need to hear it again and again) that healthy choices can be made in the way we celebrate. It doesn’t have to be all around food either…