For awhile there was a hashtag floating around on Twitter called “Confess your unpopular opinion.” Here’s mine: I really don’t like Thanksgiving.
I think I like it. Every year I think: Oh, it’s going to be fine. But it’s basically a national excuse to binge eat and (in New York, at least) overexercise, and frankly, it’s often a reminder of what I don’t have. My father’s father died on Thanksgiving morning when I was five – the table was already set for guests. And my grandmother died the day after Thanksgiving six years ago, after I’d overexercised (it was either two or three hours) then binged so badly I passed out and didn’t call her on Thanksgiving – and I usually called her every day. I never got to speak to her again.
I thought I might avoid Thanksgiving entirely this year, but instead I had it twice – on Thursday and Saturday. The eating disordered voice in my head found this stressful and difficult (especially with a trip to NYC looming), but on the flip side – and in the past six months, I have gotten a whole lot better at seeing the flip side – I have friends who care about me and sometimes go to pretty great lengths to show it.
On Thursday the plan was just to go to an English friend’s for dinner. I had eaten every meal except breakfast out for the previous week, and was looking forward to a relatively safe dinner (friend is from treatment.) But she surprised me by making the whole dinner, texting an American friend of ours pictures to check things were turning out right. It was incredibly sweet and thoughtful. (And yes, it turned out right, down to the cornbread, which is not something we ever had at our Thanksgiving growing up, but which I love.)
Saturday a Scottish friend and her half-American housemate threw a Thanksgiving dinner party. It was the first time I’ve done much drinking in nearly six months, and I have to say, it did make things harder on the food front. I struggled so hard to stick to one plate of food and one plate of pudding – so much so that I left earlier than I might otherwise, in part because the only way I could imagine staying would be consuming more. (Also: I was tired.) Yesterday I felt terrible: Hungover, tired, depressed (you forget when you haven’t drunk for awhile that alcohol is a depressant), and the cravings were through the roof. I spent the whole day basically waiting for it to be over, and it felt uncomfortably close to how I used to feel post-binge.
But on the plus side: I had a plate of food and didn’t even consider whether it was carbs or protein or fat – just food. I had a plate of pudding, just like everyone else. And I didn’t overexercise and didn’t restrict either before or after. I confess I thought about jumping on the scale to monitor the damage, but I can’t, because I have nothing to compare it to.
177 days -- and boy am I grateful for them.