The summer before Marc and I got married, we went on a trip to Hawaii. But it was not just any trip. It was an incentive trip Marc won for writing a significant amount of new business with a particular insurance company. Marc was primed to eventually take over the family insurance agency, but he was still pretty new to the biz. This trip was his first, and as Marc’s obvious plus one, I had my sunscreen packed before he could say Aloha.
We spent that trip wide-eyed over the decadence and excessiveness of the tropical adventure. Although we both made decent money, as two thirty-something's trying to build a future together, for us, indulging meant eating off the non-happy hour menu at our favorite pub once a week. Nothing like the free-flowing bounty presented before us on this trip. Complimentary cocktails by the pool? I'll have two, please. Breakfast buffet on the lanai? I'll take an extra whip on those waffles. Five-star meals beachside, the sound of the ocean mingling perfectly with the scent of plumeria. I'll have the filet mignon, medium rare.
It was magical. This experience is a once-in-a-lifetime, I thought to myself as I enjoyed the creamy tartness of the key lime pie nestled on the plate in my lap. Watching, mesmerized, as a performance of Phantom Of The Opera was performed on the open-air stage in front of me. Although visions of my newly fitted wedding dress floated through the edges of my sugar-infused mind, I didn't care. What the hell? I am on vacation.
Over the years, as I sank deeper in my relationship with anorexia, my travel adventures lost the carefree 'what the hell's’ and were replaced with more stringent 'no way in hell's’. Regardless of the location or companions, one fact was consistent. I always lost weight when I traveled. Always. Whether a beach trip with my family, a relaxing girlfriend getaway, or a romantic tropical escape with my husband, I knew I would not allow myself to gain weight. Being out of my home environment, where I could control my food to the calorie and exercise to the minute, required me to be more diligent when on the road. Without fail, I would get up while my kids were still sleeping to take early morning beach runs. I would hit the resort fitness center on wine and dine award trips while Marc was partaking in the decadent breakfast buffet. I would drink soda water by the pool, pass on handcrafted artisan dessert trays and stare longingly at the enormous ice cream cones dripping slowly in my kids' warm sand-littered little hands. Why don't you get one, mommy?
Even during my years in treatment, I struggled to maintain my weight while traveling. Hard-earned pounds that had taken me months to gain could be lost in a mere week on the road. Whether it was girlfriend trips to Palm Springs filled with ice cream and chocolate or work-related conferences in Central Oregon with of all-you-can-eat buffets and limitless cocktails, I lost weight. Even though, armed with my new healthy skills, I approached each trip with the resolve to let loose, I could never allow myself to let go entirely. To sit still, to indulge, and to say 'what the hell.'
Until I found myself, a healthy fifty year old woman ready to move forward in my life. Wanting to be free of therapy, treatment, and support groups. Although I still struggled with anorexia, I was no longer considered an anorexic.
So what the hell? It was time to get on with it.