My friend Angela , who is in recovery from anorexia, asked today whether her life would ever be normal again. It's a question I've often asked myself: when will my life stop being ruled by my eating disorder? When will I start to feel normal again?
Normal, we are told, is relative. Normal is just a setting on a washing machine. I'm not normal- I'm not even sure that I'm psychologically capable of being normal. I've come to accept that I'm never going to be normal . This is fine, and yet here I am, still searching for "normal," whatever that means.
What one of Angela's friends pointed out is that maybe normal isn't the exact thing that we're looking for. Maybe we're actually looking for a sense of normalcy in our lives.
I think the actual definition of normalcy will differ from person to person, but to me, I define normalcy as the loss of that feeling that your life has been hijacked by the eating disorder and other mental illnesses. It's the sense that you are living an authentic life, rather than being obsessed with food and weight.
I don't look around at my life now and think, "Damn, this is the life I've been wanting to live." I'd rather not spend my days wrangling pies and slinging bread. I'd love to support myself by freelancing alone. However, there is that pesky little thing called reality to deal with. Despite all of this, the normalcy in my life has dramatically increased compared to when AN was ruling all of my thoughts and behaviors.
One of the biggest advantage of this return to normalcy is the knowledge that I don't need to hide how I spend my time (reading cookbooks in the gym--yes, I've done that!). Not that I spent my time like some sort of stereotypical twenty-something; this normalcy isn't the sense that I'm doing what everyone else is doing. But as I leave the ED behind, I don't feel like my ED is making me life a freakish life. My life now involves things like eating and watching TV. It involves resting and napping and licking the spoon when I bake brownies. It involves chatting with the girls at work about the cute customers and visiting with old friends and their new babies. It's a normalcy I never thought I would ever see again...and yet here I am.
No, I'll never be normal, but I am starting to experience some normalcy.