“Didn’t you use this to make you anorexic food?” My son, Brennan, asked me last Sunday, referring to an old blender I had sitting in the donation pile on the kitchen floor.
“It is. I didn’t know you noticed that” I said, feeling the little pang of regret that surfaces when I think about how my anorexia has affected my kids. For a long time I deluded myself into believing that they never noticed the vegetable puree I would eat every night instead of the potatoes or pasta the rest of the family was eating.
“How do you know you won’t fall back into anorexia? He asked plopping down on the barstool at the kitchen counter, watching me, as I continued to organize the kitchen cupboards.
I was quiet for a moment. Brennan wasn’t one to talk much during my recovery from anorexia and I never pushed it. At that moment, however, I felt like crying with relief that he was finally willing to talk with me about any of this. And his question was a good one. Direct and insightful.
“I won’t,” I said reassuring him. Reassuring myself.
“But how do you know you won’t?” He persisted.
“Because I think about it every day, sometimes many times a day. And I make a conscious decision not to.”
That is the difference between me now and me then. Now, I think about my choices every day.
Back then I was too focused on other problems, mainly my husband’s, to focus on anything going on with me. But Al-Anon shifted that and by 2012, with several months of meetings under my belt I was starting to get the message. If I wanted to be happy, and live a life of sanity and serenity, I had to stop attempting to control others and, as they say in the program, focus on my side of the street. It was a concept I found extremely difficult to grasp, or in retrospect, maybe I just didn’t want to grasp it. Worrying about Marc’s habits made for a great distraction from looking at my own.
When I did allow myself brief moments to look inward I started to notice that a lot had changed in the years I spent, head down, focusing the problems in my marriage and how to keep them under wraps from friends and family, and most importantly, the kids. It seemed I had put together a regimen of habits, routines and rules that I believed helped me manage my emotional stress and anxiety but it had also made not only my body, but my world very small.
Fleeting thoughts of discomfort were starting skitter through my mind like little spiders across the kitchen floor. I wouldn’t say I was ready to admit I had a problem, but I was aware that my behavior at times didn’t fit with the person I used to be.
My legs are achy, I really don’t feel like going for a run, but…..
I want to be at Brennan’s soccer game but I can’t miss my workout class so…..
I look gaunt in that picture, I’m sure that…..
You could take on more clients if you were more flexible about your routine, except.....
Thoughts I swept aside with excuses forcing them to retreat back into the dark corners of my mind.
You can’t miss a run today, it's Sunday
Brennan won’t care if I miss his game.
The lighting was bad.
I don’t really need more clients.
I’m fine, everything is fine.
But not everyone was so convinced and there was someone who was about to shine a light into those dark corners.