I forgot. I forgot that recovery – my entire life – is a continuous journey.
I forgot that it is not a destination. It is not a place to reach or to graduate or to exceed. I forgot that it is not a permanent feeling, or look, or experience.
I forgot. I forgot when I started eating past capacity. I forgot when I put the nuts away and went home and took a few swipes of nut butter and toppings. I forgot when I stopped and put myself to bed, uncomfortable. I forgot when I woke up the next day, bloated and sad. Deflated. Ashamed. Humiliated.
I took a long walk in the woods with the dogs, listening to others talk about their feelings of being unacceptable – them, as people. Not their feelings or behaviors. I listened to others talk about experiencing states of being, and how they ebb and flow and they’re not always feel-good. I listened to other people just like me, trudging their way onward.
It took me 2 days to feel better, which is 2 days longer than normal. I hadn’t experienced that type of guttered bottom in a while – I had grown arrogant. I had grown very comfortable and flexible and entitled. I had grown above the food, above how I used to treat myself, and above discomfort.
Until I didn’t. Until I was humbled – not humiliated – one more time.
And it won’t be the last time. I don’t know when the next time will be, but that’s the thing with food and body recovery: you walk the dragon every single day, multiple times a day. I won’t know when I’m triggered unconsciously to eat more than I need, or to eat differently than I had planned. I won’t know when I won’t have my defenses with me, or when my old behaviors will choke out my new ones, or how long in between I will have peace.
And yes, that’s fucking scary. I wish I could say “that won’t ever happen again”, but I don’t know that that’s true.
What I do know, is that whatever comes for me will be for my higher self, and that I can handle it. Whatever comes for me will bring me to a place of deeper understanding, deeper compassion, deeper neutrality. Because it always does. And I’m always OK.
I’ve been fairly robotic in my days and emotions and promoting my story and haven’t paused very long to really assess how it’s all making me feel. I’ve been pushing for deals to close and making numbers and just doing the next thing, that I keep forgetting to take in the place that I’m in and to enjoy the process that I’m experiencing.
Fast is easy for me. Work is easy for me. Busy is easy for me.
Until it’s not. Until it jumps up out of the bowl of fucking almonds and says “ALISON! Pay attention”. That’s what the food does for me – it gets me to pay attention. It gets me to come back. It gets me to the ground.
It used to take me to my knees and break them. It used to keep me down with my face in the dirt. It used to compel me to continue harming myself, instead of releasing the part where I ate a few things past fullness and stopped. It used to compel me into a spiral, instead of doing everything right that I know how to do.
I didn’t keep eating. I didn’t purge. I didn’t starve the next day or skip any meals. I didn’t clear out the pantry or vow to never go back to my parents’ house. I didn’t swear off any food groups or ask for a different plan. I didn’t change my training. I didn’t avoid the pool because I didn’t like what I thought I saw in the mirror. I didn’t hose down the already plain broccoli and chicken in the backyard to “pay” for my indulgence. I didn’t hide in meetings or call everyone in my phone book to validate me.
I walked in the woods. I tuned in. I called one person and shared with 2 more – those closest to me. I swam. I ate my foods and kept them fulfilling and tasteful. And I felt like shit. And I continued to feel like shit. And I sat with the shit and why it felt like shit and I asked myself where it really was.
And then I found it. 2 days later. I found it in the in between that is recovery. I found it in the old idea that I must be perfect or else. I found it in the old idea that I will never eat more than I need. I found it in the old idea that I am not enough if I write a book, guide other women in their experience with food and their bodies, and then treat myself unconsciously. I found it in the shock of behavior I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I found it in the fear.
And once I found it, I could let it go. I could see the grey trying to seep in and take over, while I was choking out in the black and white. I could feel the love and kindness in the grey – where my recovery is – and in the things that I did right (everything else), and not in the few minutes of unconscious old behavior that is my very disease.
I needed to be reminded that I belong. I needed to be reminded that I am not better, or worse. I needed to be reminded to feel, to slow down, to breathe.
Because I’m worth it, too.