Hello! Sorry I haven’t written in a while. Something you should know about me, I do not write a blog or post on social media unless I’m feeling inspired. A few nights ago, as I was falling asleep new things about the holidays hit me.
The holidays aren’t “happy” for everyone. Holidays can be a time of trauma triggers, anxiety, fear around food, grief, and loss, boundary crossings, and stress. Holidays are happy for others. It is a rich time to be surrounded by friends and family. Those in recovery are ok around food and others can stay sober. Holidays can be a time where a person may feel super supported and loved by those around them.
In my eating disorder, holidays were not “happy” for me. I was terrified about eating or eating too much. What if I couldn’t exercise to compensate for food and desserts? I secretly hoped body comments would be about how “great” I looked to encourage the disorder. I would try to schedule my days around getting to the gym before seeing friends and family. I would wonder if there were ways to sneak off and engage in behaviors after I ate. My whole holiday was consumed and scheduled around eating disorder behaviors. I was never present. I was checked out. Some holidays, I don’t even remember.
Thinking back on those holidays in my eating disorder make me so sad. I grieve those moments I may have been physically present with friends and family but, I wasn’t there mentally and emotionally. I missed out on so much.
In recovery, holidays are much happier and more fulfilling for me. I still have triggers. I have learned with therapy and coping skills how to feel safe and balanced. I feel grateful that food and movement aren’t in the forefront of my mind. Sure, I sometimes have old thoughts. The thoughts float on by in my mind. I don’t engage with thoughts if they come up.
The most helpful thing I did was make new traditions for myself at Christmas particularly. Making new traditions gives me hope that the past never will be repeated. I am safe. I typically go home to my family at Thanksgiving. For Christmas I go to Vail and ski either alone or with friends that want to join me. I love it. It’s a time to enjoy nature, no distractions, and just be me authentically.
I have faith you can recovery from your eating disorder. I have faith you can enjoy holidays without fear and the distraction from your eating disorder. Creating new traditions can offer hope when former traditions are a trigger or represent a dark time in your life.
What are some of the new traditions you have created over the years? What is helpful in recovery during the holidays?
Thinking of you and sending so much love, peace, and positive vibes for recovery!