Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chili Cheese Fries

The curse lifted somewhere along Interstate 29, that road between Nebraska and Kansas City.

The lightness,
the calm,
the joy,
the wholeness,
they settled into my body with familiar ease like a favorite pair of jeans or a childhood memory that remains untainted by time or circumstance.

This just felt right.
Because it was right.

Six years ago, I adopted an eating disorder that has been a regular part of my vocabulary ever since. Only for the last year or so has it felt completely true to call myself "recovered." Now--in my book--"recovered" means that I no longer inflict life-threatening behaviors on my body. I'm still insecure. I still sometimes look in the mirror with disdain. I still refer to my tunnel-vision, periodical self-hatred as the beast that is Helga. I'm still human.

So it was confusing and frustrating when in December (when Jeremy and I got engaged), I felt Helga sneaking back in. The five months of our engagement reminded me of what it was like to live with an eating disorder: that hyper-awareness of my body, my fullness, how my clothes fit, how people commented on my appearance, what I ate, how I compared to other women, and (this time around) how I was going to fit into that damn wedding dress.

This was the curse: that indescribable joy of planning a wedding and a marriage to the man I love  
a hyper-awareness of all the photographs that would be taken, capturing my flaws for future generations.

It was a complex I couldn't seem to overlook.
It was an all-too-familiar reminder of where I've been.
It was a lot of self-inflicted stress that made me--at times--miserable.
I hiccuped. I was in over my head. I felt panicked.

But now, it's over.

The curse lifted as Jeremy and I drove away from our wedding bound for our honeymoon. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. A few miles down the road, we both realized we were hungry and the approaching Wendy's would not be ignored. I ordered chili cheese fries. Yes, deep-fried potatoes with chunky beef chili, and a pool of melted cheddar cheese. And never before (and never again) will chili cheese fries taste so freaking good.

Because I ate them knowing they were just chili cheese fries.
They weren't setting me back on my ability to fit into that wedding dress.
They weren't loaded with emotional and psychological baggage.
They weren't a trick or a toxin that would surely derail all of my self-control.
No, they were just chili cheese fries.

And it was in that moment, driving across Nebraska with my new husband after our picture-perfect wedding, that I realized the curse that had set in upon engagement...was gone.

It's a relief to not second-guess everything I eat and be overly-diligent about my work-outs.
But the last five months have shown me how easy it was to fall willingly back into the arms of Helga.

I still have much to learn.
I still have much to grow.

The journey continues with this experience in my back pocket.
So that I don't forget where I've been and where I'm going.

I'm going forward.


Briana said...

I am so incredibly happy for you.