Anyone who has suffered from an eating disorder will understand that the majority of the time you feel like a weirdo, an absolute freak, because you aren’t able to live and participate in everyday life like everybody else. You become so engulfed in your little world of calories, portion sizes, meal times and exercise that you can’t take anything else in, nothing else can be a part of your life because there’s no more room in your head.
This ED world is easily the worst thing I have ever experienced. It’s like you’re constantly gasping for air but failing to get in any real breath. Thankfully, I’m becoming walking proof that it is possible to get away from this feeling and to begin to live again and to feel (mostly) normal*.
Normality is something I dreamt and spoke about with Matt and my family for a long time. I would imagine what it would be like to live life not thinking ahead about what you’re going to have for lunch or dinner but just choosing something on the spot. Or what it would be like to be one of those people who can spontaneously decide to take a day off exercising because they’re tired or to take a gentle walk because their body craves movement. I envied (and still do) these people and their ability to live life so freely.
For so long I genuinely believed this life was never going to be possible for me. I thought I would be a slave to the strictness and rigidity of the eating disorder forever. Over time, as I continue to recover, this belief seems more and more unreasonable. I’m beginning to see that just like I never thought I would be able to eat dessert again, my goal to live freely is 100% possible. I’m seeing this in my own life as this new normal becomes more and the ED becomes less.
In the past month or so I’ve shocked myself looking back at how normal I’ve been. I was able to go on a holiday and eat and actually holiday like a normal person. I’ve been able to enjoy unexpected lunches, dinners and breakfasts with friends and family and it has felt amazing!
A couple of weeks ago my brother and his finance celebrated their engagement with a big party at my parents’ house. I think this was what got me thinking about this idea of “living normally”. As I’ve said in the past, my family is the most important thing in my life—I’m truly blessed to have such an amazing bunch of people in my world. Both of my brothers have amazing partners who’ve become some of my best friends, and when I found out my older brother proposed to his now bride-to-be I was ecstatic (Matt actually thinks I seemed more excited than when he proposed to me!).
The party was a fun-filled night with plenty of laughs, friends and lots of delicious food and drinks. Happy to say this was the first gathering I’ve been able to truly let go and enjoy (I couldn’t even really embrace the meal and drinks at my own wedding). While this is amazing in itself, what shocked me most was that I really didn’t even think about it. I was able to eat, drink and be merry just like everyone else. The day after the party, Matt and I realised it was exactly a year since my Hen’s Party. Back then I ruined an absolutely beautiful high tea organised by my lovely Maid of Honour, because I was so terrified of the cakes and sandwiches set out before me.
A lot can change in a year.
Looking back I can see how far I’ve come and how much more full my life is now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some work to do before I can say I have a truly healthy or “normal” approach to food and exercise. But everyday I’m realising more and more that a normal life is possible—and it’s possible for me.
* I realise that there is no true “normal”. For me, normal means not living under the rules and restrictions of the eating disorder and enjoying life the way God intended it to be enjoyed!