Ian and I drove past a restaurant the other day. I don’t remember the name of it. We only went there once, a long time ago. It hit me how much has changed since we were there.
The anxiety starts gnawing at my stomach the second he suggests going there. I don’t know what kind of food they have. (Uncertainty, especially around food, is torture for someone with an eating disorder.)
Will there be anything safe for me to eat? What if I’m weak and eat something I shouldn’t?
But he wants to go there and I don’t want to be a pain. My eating disorder is enough of a burden for me, without someone else having to share it.
We sit down and I look over the menu. Ian orders chips and guacamole for an appetizer. I stare at it with both horror and overwhelming craving when it comes, warring with myself.
Have some, no don’t…just a little…no, don’t even start, you won’t be able to control yourself…
I nibble on a few chips and dollops of gauc so Ian won’t ask me why I’m not eating any. I mentally beg him to hurry up and finish it so it won’t be tempting/taunting me anymore.
I study the menu, which I hold with a white-knuckled grip as if I’m clinging to my sanity. Good, salads, I think, relieved a little…but all with bacon, nuts, cheese and fatty dressings! There’s nothing healthy enough for me!
I’m starting to panic. I can feel it bubbling up inside while my breathing gets faster. Ian tells me I should order something fun. I say nothing, but manage a smile and put my shaking hands in my lap so he won’t see.
I order my salad with most things left off (Ian asks why) and then still don’t finish it (he asks why again). I’m not that hungry, I tell him, even though I am…and am still thinking about the sinfully delicious chips and guacamole. I want more, and at the same time am worried that the little I did eat is making me fat. My pants already feel tighter. I just want to leave as soon as possible, go home to my mirror, and see if I look as disgusting as I feel.
It was so hard living that way. Sometimes I forget just how hard. And miserable. I think a lot about all the work I still have left to do, but I rarely appreciate—really appreciate—how far (by the grace of God!) I’ve come. That’s probably true for most of us.
But looking back and celebrating the healing does not mean we think the work is done. It just means we are thankful…and it gives us hope that we can keep going because we see that change is not just possible, it’s already happening.