Last week, I made myself a pretty run-of-the-mill breakfast: avocado toast on gluten-free bread with a light swipe of Just Mayo and a sprinkling of za'atar. I had my big ol' glass of water and my big ol' mug of coffee, and checked my email while I ate. Pretty unremarkable. Except, within about five minutes of finishing my toast, I felt a massive wave of guilt breaking over me. Guilt turning quickly into disgust. Blech, I had EATEN. So gross. Weak. Repulsive. As a little voice told me off for stooping to such a low as to consume food, it also dismissed today, and me, as a lost cause. Now that I had eaten I had destroyed the day's potential. The only option now was to post up in the kitchen and just keep eating. Today was out the window, so may as well waste the rest of it overeating and try again tomorrow.
Half-listening to the voice, half- spacing out and trying to pay no attention whatsoever to this inner demon's dialogue, I grabbed some watermelon from the fridge and wandered into the other room. Without really paying attention to what I was doing, I grabbed my journal and just sat with it open, absently nibbling on watermelon and letting my mind subconsciously drift toward the place I go when I meditate. I could feel my mood plummeting and my hopeless repulsion at the thought of spending the day bingeing. The food I had in the house was good, and clean. Happy food. Things I eat to show self-love and nurture myself. The idea of wasting fresh vegetables, and delicious roasted chickpeas and tofu, and lush, bright fruit on a day of self-harm seemed unconscionable. Still half-in, half-out of focus, I was able to step back from that bad mood and those harmful thoughts. I was able to realize that those thoughts were...crazy. I had simply eaten breakfast. A completely normal, healthy breakfast. Hating myself for that was bonkers. I started to write down what I was feeling and how the day had shifted so quickly. Somehow, by half-considering that shift and that guilt from my unfocused state, I grasped fully how ILL that voice is. I was able to separate from my illness in a way I never had before, could observe it more objectively. I could make the conscious choice not to go down that road. I ate a few more bites of watermelon. I closed my journal. I took a shower, took the dog for a walk, and spent the day cleaning and organizing all of my camping gear. I ate reasonable, healthy meals and I felt absolutely fine about them. I had a good day.
Now, two weeks later, I'm still mulling that morning over. I haven't had an instance like that since, and it's a lot less common these days for that crippling swell of guilt to come at me at all, and certainly never when I've eaten well. It's, thankfully, become an anomaly. So I suppose it would be easy to let this unnerve me, then, and fear that it signifies my disorder getting worse. But that'd be incorrect. The only thing this event truly signifies is that healing isn't linear, no matter what it is from which you are healing. You can be feeling great and making forward progress for a good, solid amount of time, and then out of the blue have a bad day. But stumbling on your way down the path doesn't take away from how far you've gone, you just get up when you can and you keep going. The road to healing isn't ever the quickest route from point a to point b. It wanders and it's twisty. It's a little wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey.
Ultimately, and rather strangely, I get a sense of relief when I think about how awful I felt that morning. I could have crashed, and indulged my illness, and completely disregarded what is actually best for me and my body. Instead, I breathed, I stepped back, I retreated to my heartspace, and I sent my disorder back to its corner. While I would've preferred not to fight the battle at all, I'm pretty damn glad I won it.
Enjoying this little victory over my illness, and continuing down my path of recovery from it, led me to think about the other ways in which I am healing. Healing from childhood scars. Healing from heartbreak. Healing from my grandparents' deaths in the spring. We spend so much time trying to ignore that process and those struggles, as if it'll happen faster if we pretend it isn't happening at all. But there is no shame in healing, because everyone, everywhere is healing from something. That's just life, and life cannot, and will not, stop to let you recover, it's something you have to do while you live. And in a weird way it makes living so much richer. So, please, do yourself a favor and don't shy away from whatever fight you're fighting. Especially this weekend, with one hell of a full moon coming at us. Just embrace it. Celebrate the victories and accept the pitfalls. Don't be afraid to look back once in a while and see how far you've come. But mostly, breathe, and have faith in where you're going.