I wish this article was about my anorexia going on a permanent vacation, but it isn’t. There aren’t two ways about it: recovery is hard on any average routine-filled day. So when you throw in a two-week period of little sleep, constant activity, and strange, indulgent foods, one in recovery can feel like he or she is on an anorectic rollercoaster.
I went to Los Angeles for almost two weeks, to introduce my daughter to friends she hadn’t the opportunity to meet yet. (Oh, and I forgot to mention above the fun of putting a Boston toddler on Los Angeles time. Joyful 3am awakenings where SuperWhy MUST be watched. But I digress.) Now, I love LA for many reasons – it’s beautiful, the weather is almost perfect, the people are relaxed, and I’ll admit, it’s pretty cool to see celebrities alongside of you shopping for groceries. But it’s image-obsessed. Two years ago, I had gone to LA, and when I got off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan…wait…
No but really. The first billboard I saw read:
I remember thinking how you’d never see that in Boston.
Also, the last time I went, I had gone out to a bar with my boyfriend and some of his friends. I had excused myself to go to the bathroom, and when I entered it, immediately felt out of place. The white hippie sundress and sandals I had previously thought were pretty attractive paled in comparison to the row of stiletto heels and skintight dresses I saw on the other women. Now, I’ve never been one to follow trends, but I had to admit that my Boston-ness seemed glaringly apparent that day.
This time, I didn’t compare myself as much to other women, but I found the off-schedule eating pretty abhorrent. Can you eat healthy on vacation? Absolutely. Is it harder when you’re dealing with low finances and a screaming toddler? Yup. So, long story short, I found myself eating more fast foods and sugar, and while you know I DEFINITELY don’t endorse abstinence from any of these foods, it was an imbalance for me.
The above picture was taken in this fabulous candy store, Dylan’s Candy Bar, in the Grove. Think candy you haven’t seen for years AND a chocolate fondue bar where you could dip strawberries and rice krispie treats in chocolate. This is me, overenjoying one of those delectable treats:
The folly for me always lies in this common anorexic miscalculation: linking food intake with moral value. Because I ate a ton of candy that day, I was immediately a disgusting person…not. I may have had uncomfortable feelings of my body breaking down sugars it doesn’t usually, but that doesn’t translate into my moral value. Separating the physical and the emotional are so very important, at times. And also…one can’t maintain a perfect food intake 24/7. We are humans, which means we err. Which means it’s ok to get off the bandwagon for a bit if we know we have the ability to get back on safely. And at this point, I do. I just need to remind myself it’s ok to indulge in healthy substances. Writing, friend time, nerds ropes, and my daughter.
I will say this trip was not a total anorectic mental slip, and is documented by the following: I wore a bikini with little to no shame, for the first time in my life.
I had planned this photo mentally, because I needed to challenge the irrational idea in my head that I looked disgusting in a bathing suit and needed to hide my body. For some, this might be triggering, but for me, it was one of the most liberating experiences I ever had. Truthfully, I’ve still found ways to pick apart this photo since then, but, it’s a work in process, isn’t it?
How does being on vacation affect your self-care? Does it improve it or throw it off?