Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Year in London

A year ago today a friend picked me up at Heathrow off an overnight flight from NYC. She helped me lug my bags (including an enormous suitcase) up five flights of stairs to a tiny studio I thought would be my home for just four months – the amount of time I planned to stay in London. Then we went for a dim sum lunch with a friend of hers who had done the same 14-week outpatient treatment program as she did – the same treatment program I had arrived in London to do.

I’ve thought about that day a lot over the past year, always with incredible gratitude. Overnight flights and jetlag can make everything seem gray, and I was scared enough as it was – would this work? What if it didn’t? Seeing friendly faces made all the difference in the state of mind with which I started, and it also kept me from a binge free-fall before I started treatment four days later.

So many things have changed this year – some of which have been so terrifying that if I’d had any idea about them, I might never have come. And yet here I am. After a couple of months of recalibrating, I am closer than ever with the friend who picked me up from Heathrow -- I think she felt a little invaded for awhile, because there I was in a lot of the recovery groups she thought of as hers. The friend of hers became a good enough friend of mine that I spent New Years Eve at her house. But she disappeared about a month later, as people often do when they slip back into old (meaning bingeing) behavior, which I know she has. Despite a lot of effort on my part, I haven’t spoken to her since – she doesn’t reply to whatsapps or calls. Well over half the people I was in treatment with have relapsed. I know I’m lucky, but I also know I work really hard at it. Recovery is not something you ever really can think you’ll always have, I’ve learned – it’s something you get for the day. Some days are much harder than others.

I only realize now in writing this that I don’t remember my last binge – can’t date it, can’t tell you what I ate. The month before I left for London I overate a lot (huge meals, lots of cake), but there weren’t any binges – it was almost enough to make me question if I were doing the right thing. Almost. I had so much to do that month I think I knew I’d never make it onto the plane if I started bingeing, and I knew I had to get on the plane.

I use June 4 as my one-year marker only because the night before I went to a dinner party and drank a lot, which was forbidden while I was in treatment. Plus, I can’t quite remember what I ate. I know I took a cab home, so there wasn’t any post-dinner-party binge.

I had this idea that I wanted to be in London for my one year without a binge, and then the opportunity came up to be in New York and be able to stay in my own apartment, before the new subletter arrives – a pretty narrow window of time. I want to do some clearing out I didn’t have the headspace to do before I left, maybe to drum up some work, and to see people. And yet I was trying to arrange it so I was in London on the 4th.

Then the invitation arrived for a friend’s kid’s first birthday party on June 3, and it seemed like a sign. I have missed a lot of milestones in my friends’ lives while I’ve been here. And I have lived all my life I can remember ruled by this eating disorder, with it dictating where I would go and what I would do. It seemed fitting, at the end of a whole year without bingeing or starving, not to let it rule even how I celebrate its absence.

Three hundred and sixty two days (at least) without a binge.


  1. I'm so happy to read about your one year without a binge. You seem to be so together and happy. Good for you sticking with it and doing the work it takes to stay there!

  2. Marvellous, marvellous stuff!! I'm so pleased for you. Lxx

  3. Hi there, I'm writing as i sit at the entrance of an OA meeting, which you've inspired me to join. They messed up the address so I I arrived super late. I'm waiting for the meeting to finish To enquire about other meetings as I want to give this a try. What better way to wait than to reread your blog?
    I really hope everything is going great for you. I do miss your posts so hopefully you'll update sometime!
    From a longtime reader (and yes, we do remember Friend Bearing Chocolate and I'd live to hear the backstory!)