thank you, world (+ theresa)

Hi friends- long time, no blog!

School/skating/life have been so busy but I knew I wanted to write about thanksgiving, so I’m back!

I have a million and four things to be thankful for, my recovery + health being on the top of that list. Having the opportunity to go to treatment and kick my eating disorder out for good is something I can never put into words. For the taste of freedom and life without dozens of nonsensical rules about food and my body. For getting to actually be a teenager and a college student, not a half-functional anorexic.

I keep going back to May, during my time at Renfrew in Philadelphia. . After meals, we would have meal support therapy, where we’d talk about how the meal went, our successes and not-so-successes, our motivation, and what the meal brought up for us. When my favorite staff member led the group, she would applaud us for just showing up. For awhile, I thought it was DUMB. Flat out. We didn’t really have an option to go to meals and eat- or so I thought. Theresa (my fav) would always remind us- “The first step is showing up. To the meal and to life. You could have skipped or refused, but you all came in here and showed up and tried, and that is something to be proud of. You don’t have to have finished the meal or not used food rituals for today to be a success, even a baby one. All I ask is that you show up.

On hard days (and even good ones), I remind myself that that’s what life is: it’s showing up. It’s sitting through the pain and the agony and the tears AND the really good stuff, because with life, you can either show up and experience it all, or you can waste it. After we discussed the meal, Theresa would have us name ONE good thing that happened that day. When you’re in 24 hour care with 15 minutes of computer time a day and your friends are far away and you’re forced to deal with things you’ve been running from for years, it is really really difficult to name those things. But slowly I did- and it wasn’t “seeing the scale go down” or “burning a lot of calories at the gym.” It became “my favorite song played on the radio during lunch” or “my best friend sent me a sweet letter today” or “I talked to my mom and she told me she was proud of me” or “I finished 100% of meals today without drinking a supplement.”  And those things involved showing up and living outside of my eating disorder for the first time in a long time.

I like to think that I’m pretty good at showing up. This thanksgiving is my first one in ~7 years where I haven’t restricted/exercised to compensate for the food, or cried before the meal because I was so scared of calories, or sat at the meal tallying calories and grams of fat and carbs and wondering how long I could exercise the next day without anyone getting suspicious. This year, I woke up and I ate breakfast and lunch and I went to the ice rink to skate because I wanted to and I love it. Holidays so focused on food are hard, but missing out on life just isn’t an option anymore.

I’m thankful for Theresa and how she applauded us for showing up. I’m thankful that she taught me that even when I feel like my life has hit rock bottom, there’s still little things to smile about. I’m thankful that my family + friends have stood by me and cheered me on this year. I’m thankful for a holiday where my eating disorder isn’t invited. I’m thankful that I can feel excited for all the dessert I’m going to eat tonight, instead of anxious and scared. I’m thankful for skating and doing well in school and relationships and a million things that I couldn’t have when I was sick. I’m thankful that when I went to the doctor yesterday, she smiled and told me she was so proud of me because my labs and vitals are finally normally. I’m thankful that my skin is no longer gray and the sparkle is back in my eyes and that I ate a delicious bagel sandwich and enjoyed it instead of running from it. And mostly, I’m thankful for a second chance at life. For being given another opportunity to try showing up to life and all its mess- because I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I try to think of things I’m grateful for every day and sometimes I forget- but I’m thrilled to have a special day set aside to just remember how good and bad and genuine and worth living that life is. Thank you thank you thank you, world (and Theresa).

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