Why That Weekend Trip May Be Exactly What Your Recovery Needs

If you asked me six months ago to take a trip in which I would drink wine and eat for three days straight, I would’ve crawled under a table and called you crazy.

But two months ago, I actually did. And it transformed my life.

For Christmas my mom got me a trip to visit my aunt and cousins in New York for a weekend. When I got the gift, I was excited. But also extremely nervous about how my eating disorder would inevitably ruin
the trip.

In the past, vacation was the prime feeding ground for my eating disorder: long days, limited access to gluten-free food, minimal snacking and zero accountability partners present.

In general, vacations are stress bombs for people struggling with eating disorders. Vacation means days of eating out, socializing, being away from your safety net and having to navigate around people’s comments and judgements about themselves and others.

It can be more exhausting than running a marathon.

Expectation – reality

But for me, this vacation was the complete opposite. It was a ray of light. Refreshing. Hopeful. For the first time in my recovery, I felt like I was living the life I truly wanted.

Nobody was monitoring my eating. No one was walking on egg shells with me or treating me like a fragile porcelain doll. I was able to fall into their “normal weekend routine” and allow myself to be completely free of my eating disorder.

I allowed myself to reduce some of the structure that exists with my meal plan and instead focused on intuitive eating and a “normalized” eating experience.

And it felt good.

I was doing the exact opposite of what ED wanted. It felt so good to challenge my fear foods and open up to my cousins about my worries.

It felt amazing to know I was supported without feeling suffocated by it. I was able to allow myself to indulge without trying to compensate for it. And for once, I could ignore my outside stressors for a weekend and just be.

Feel the fear & do it anyway

I share this story to show you that sometimes, the thing we fear most may actually be the thing that helps us the most.

I have another, longer trip set up this summer with my family. Two months ago, my mom said her goal is for me to “eat without anxiety.” At the time, I told her that wasn’t possible.

But after taking this first vacation, I can now turn to her and say that that goal is far more achievable than I originally thought.

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