Can't Smile Without You
It was inevitable. The relationship was nearing the end. I wasn't sure if I was ready. I needed reassurance I was ready to move on not giving up. I wanted a sign.
When I turned 50, I got one.
"No. Absolutely not," I said adamantly to my husband, Marc, when he proposed the idea.
"But it's your 50th," Marc said with a sheepish look on his face. I knew he had one of his 'Marc Baker' ideas up his sleeve.
"You know I don’t do parties," I whined, getting a little pissed that this man I’d been married to for twenty years didn’t even ‘know’ me.
"Well, what if this wasn't a party as much as an…... event?" He persisted, toying with me.
"Like what?" I asked cautiously, not wanting him to get his hopes up that I might agree to whatever whack-ass plan had in mind.
"Like this?" He said, turning his computer and presenting me with a mock-up invitation to what would be my 50th birthday celebration. Oh, it got my attention.
Marc had it all planned out. A night at one of my favorites, Tony Starlight's Supper Club and even better it was a Barry Manilow/Neil Diamond theme, with food, cocktails, comedy, music, family, and friends. It sounded incredible. A party I would love to attend. For anyone but me.
I hate to be the center of attention. I do not care for big gatherings in general. I prefer intimate get-togethers that allow for authentic conversations. Unless work-related, I steer clear of significant social events that require superficial small talk that leaves me depleted and unfulfilled.
At the point Marc proposed this party, I was two years into my recovery process, and I was doing well. I was contemplating broaching the subject of terminating treatment with my team. My weight was stable, my schedule was flexible, my connection to others was fulfilling, and after ten years without, my period had just returned signaling my hormones were back online. But I still had room for improvement, and I was fearful without the support of my team, I would get too comfortable. I was afraid I alone would not have the courage to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone allowing me to keep learning how beautiful life could be without anorexia.
What better way to prove to myself I had it in me to put myself out there. Something told me if I took a risk and agreed to this party, it would result in more than just a celebration of my birthday.
Okay, let's just do it," I said to Marc over dinner one night. I had spent the better part of the week talking myself into it and after a larger than normal glass of wine, I finally caved.
I had one caveat. I would not invite people just to fill a room. I would only invite those who were important to me—friends and family who have impacted my life in some way. I sat down and started a list.
As it turns out, I am one lucky woman.
On September 23rd, 2018, I celebrated with a packed room full of friends and family whom I love. Just like always, these people, each special to me in their way, showed up. For me.
As the night ended and the last guest left the room, I felt exhilarated. I had pushed myself out of my comfort zone to find I wasn't uncomfortable at all. I enjoyed being social, and chatty, and unwound. Most importantly, I allowed myself to be surrounded by love. I went home that night feeling more like my old heathy self than I had in over a decade. Like I had walked out of a dark closet and back into my own skin.
And I knew it was time to give up the old narrative of whom I believed I was, and it was time to move into whom I had become.