When my friend Joyce invited me along with two others to her new vacation home in my favorite Bend, Oregon, I wanted to go, or more specifically, I wanted to want to go. I adored this group of women. Joyce, Mary, Victoria, and I had been playing tennis every Friday for the past year. Actually we laughed, gossiped, supported, and sometimes managed to get in a game or two. Although our friendship was relatively new, there was something about them that made me feel comfortable. Accepted. They knew nothing of my struggle with anorexia or that I was currently in treatment. They never commented on my body or questioned my soda water and two chip limit at our post tennis happy hours. And being a bit ahead of me in life (read older), they all had been through the rocky marriage moments and parenting angst I was currently experiencing. Their support and guidance felt, at times, like an umbrella in a shitstorm.
The trip sounded perfect in theory. Good friends, my favorite city, a luxurious home, and a lot of wine/whine and although I was making slight progress in treatment, I was still slowly learning to let go of many of the unhealthy habits I put into place. I had not tested my recovery in unfamiliar territory without my old vices, my own food, exercise, structumeal times to turn too if I need to. I couldn’t go.
What if they had no plan for meals and just wanted to graze all day? What if they wanted to lounge around and read with no intent to hike or bike? What if I didn’t get alone time to freak out with discomfort? What if I was so uncomfortable I spent the whole time wishing I was in the safety of my own home. The thought terrified me.
On the other hand;
What if I stayed home? What I took my morning walk alone? Ate my lunch exactly at Noon? And stayed well within my comfort zone of structure and predictability? Wishing the whole time I was laughing and bonding with my friends. The thought terrified me.
I had a choice. Stay safe and stay stuck, or face my fear and move forward.
“Do you feel safe with them?” Kirsten asked me, knowing this decision was brutal for me. By safe, she meant in the event I needed to out myself to these women, to admit I was in treatment and that I was scared shitless, could I?
“I do,” I replied.
“Then I think you have your answer,” She replied, smiling.
But after packing and unpacking three (or seven) times and planning for every “what if” scenario that might come up, I was exhausted and pissed off at myself for making something fun, be so damned hard. I decided if I was agreeing to go on this trip, bond with my friends, be part of a tribe again after so many years feeling alone, then I was going to GO on this trip. Meaning I would leave all my stupid rules at home, including my food, workout gear, and escape plan. Staring at my half packed (or unpacked) suitcase, I made a promise to myself. If they were going to lounge all day, so was I. If they were going to eat breakfast at eleven in the morning, so was I. If they were eating steak and potatoes for dinner, then dammit, so was I. It was the only way I could for see getting through it.
Would there be moments of physical discomfort and emotional terror? Most likely. Would there be thoughts of “what the Hell was I thinking? Probably. Was I risking my recovery pushing myself too hard? Maybe.
But I was being offered a chance—a chance to do it differently. A chance to feel a part of something special —a chance at recovering.
It was a chance I was ready to take.
The fantastic moments far outweighed the scary ones (even finding out there was Mayo in the potato pancakes).. I never felt the need to reveal I was in treatment. I was having too much fun with these amazing women. It was such an incredible feeling to just “be”. This trip was a game changer and motivated me to commit to recovery. I wanted more of this.
From Left: Joyce, Victoria, Me and Mary (Bend, Oregon 2016)