Today was rough, but I held on.
Today I could have taken the “easy” way out and used my comfortable coping mechanism, but I didn’t.
Today I fought back and won.
A little background for those who don’t know me, my father passed away two years ago in January. Yesterday was his birthday, he would’ve been 58 years old, and tomorrow is Father’s Day. So, needless to say, this weekend is a little rough for me. However, I thought I could “handle” it. I thought I wouldn’t break down and cry. I thought this would be the year that his death didn’t bother me on this particular weekend. I could not have been more wrong.
Today my friends got married; which was by all accounts, very joyous. It was a beautiful occasion, I was happy, and felt so confident in the dress I picked out. (It was a bright coral dress with tan stiletto heels. Let me tell you, I NEVER wear heels anymore.) I felt like a million bucks with my make up, dress, shoes, and an evening out without my toddler tagging along. I was enjoying the festivities until the time for the ceremonial dances came during the reception. Since my dad’s passing I’ve made a habit of asking the bride of weddings I attend what song she is dancing to with her father, just so I can be prepared. (I didn’t do that for one wedding four months after my dad died and it was disastrous.) At least that was a habit until this wedding. For some reason it didn’t cross my mind to ask my friend this time. Well, it didn’t much matter because they did the mother-groom dance first and the song they chose was “Simple Man,” by Lynard Skynard. We played that song at my dad’s calling hours because he loved it so much. While it made me tear up, I managed to sit through it. Then it was time for the father-bride dance. That did not turn out so well for me. “Butterfly Kisses” by Bob Carlisle was the song. It was the song I danced to with my dad and the song my friend was dancing to with hers.
I didn’t handle that as well. The tears welled up and began to fall.
All I wanted to do was stop the tears and “handle” the situation in the best way I knew how: by running to the bathroom to purge. As if purging would somehow make everything instantly better. As if purging could make the emotions, the pain, the hurt, and the anger go away. In my mind if I purged everything could go back to the happy moment it was before the songs began to play. But purging wouldn’t solve anything. It wouldn’t make this weekend no longer Father’s Day weekend. It wouldn’t make the hole in my heart instantly fill back up with a father. Purging wouldn’t solve a single thing. This was the reality I had to accept as I stood in the hallway trying to decide if I would make a left and go into the bathroom or walk straight ahead and step outside. I knew even though the bathroom was a “safe place” to hide away from any eyes who might wonder why this grown woman was crying in the middle of a beautiful wedding reception, it would mean giving in and slipping up. If I set foot in that bathroom I would purge and it would be game over. In that moment the words from the Priest who delivered the Homily at the wedding came to mind: “Everything you do with your body should reflect that it belongs to God.” It was at that moment I decided to keep walking forward. I decided not to turn left. I decided to let people judge me for crying at a wedding reception because my recovery has to come before my pride. God is my Heavenly Father who can fill that hole in my heart but I have to let Him. I have to choose to fight my eating disorder and find my strength not only in recovery, but in moments like this, with Him.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I am so proud of myself for that decision. It is probably the best, and toughest, decision I have had to make regarding my recovery in several weeks, but it was well worth it. I allowed myself to be human. I allowed myself to feel. Several weeks ago I was trying to describe to a friend why emotions seem to be so difficult for me, as well as others in recovery. This was my best description:
Learning to feel again means feeling every thing. Not managing the emotions we don’t want and trying to find the ones we do, but EXPERIENCING it all. And the emotions are STRONGER and more INTENSE than people who have been feeling for their whole lives because we don’t know HOW or WHAT it is to feel.
So, I say all that to remind myself that feeling and experiencing my feelings and emotions is all part of recovery. It is all part of this imperfect process. I also think I will be reminding myself of the following for some time to come:
My recovery has to come before my pride.
With Body Love,