As we all know, it is once again the season to be thankful. It's the time for gratitutde-- to count our blessings for what we have, and accept that which we don't. As I look back to last year's Thanksgiving, I am surprised by how much has and has not changed. I have once again found myself in a position of choosing who I eat for, why and how. However, while last year my family and loved ones were my inspiration, this year I choose to act for me. The past few months have been overwhelmed with changes, thoughts, feelings and emotions. There have been heartbreaks, stress, solicitude, butterflies, pride, regrets and suspense. I tested my limits, seeing how close to the edge I could get without falling. But, thankfully, I was caught before I slipped. Choices were given that have pressured me to rethink my priorities. Though gradual, it felt like everything happened so fast. One moment I was in love, inspired and eager to start a new life for myself. Who knew several months later I'd be given an ultimatum. I realize, now, that I let fear of contentment and happiness, as well as the comfort of my need for schedules, routines and rigidity override my fear of living.
Last spring I found myself in a similar, (yet admittedly) more daunting, situation. Essentially, I was allured by ED to a dark, destructive hell. I was stuck to the glue of obsession. Sure, warnings were given, with ultimatums lingering over my conscious; However, I
couldn't -- choose not to --couldn't turn it around-- I was in too deep. The motivation simply wasn't strong enough. But after going through treatment again, I vowed to never return to a hospital, and I certainly will not give that up. I have taken matters into my own hands and have begun to turn things around. Every choice I make is for me, and no one else. It's difficult, often feels like torture and I do find myself vulnerable and wanting to give in. But I won't. I am less than four weeks away from graduating college, months away from a trip to Europe and only seconds away from having a chance for a future. No, I won't back down this time, for I am stronger, more alive and eager.
I'm not sure if I thought I would be recovered after a year and a half of treatment, nor am I sure if I will be in the next year. However, I do know that all I have is now, and every choice I make moves me one step closer, or takes me one step back. But I don't want to go back. I'd rather deal with the discomfort, fear and internal pain then go back to a place where I know the inevitable awaits me. The inevitable alluding to a life without freedom and without love. Thus, when I am in graduate school, working, loving and living, all of what I must endure now will be worth it. I must keep my eye on that Emerald City that exists, even if at times it looks much farther away than I anticipated. Sometimes we must choose long term rewards over instant gratification.
Proud is an understatement for how I feel at this moment. Well, proud and thankful. I am thankful for the family that has stood by my side despite my relapses and poor decisions. Thankful for my friends, who unknowingly motivate me every single day. Thankful for those who have forever had an impact and have helped me develop the strength I possess to make healthier, more pro-active choices. And thankful for the support I receive from the beautiful people I have been blessed to have come into contact with. Words cannot explain the gratitude I feel. So, I'll leave keep it short, simple and blunt: Thank you.
We must never lose sight of our support system. And never forget that feeling alone is not the same as being lonely. Because, in the words of Dr. Meredith Grey, "The people that are still with you at the end of the day - those are the ones worth keeping. And sure, sometimes close can be too close. But sometimes, that invasion of personal space, it can be exactly what you need." And I needed it.
This holiday, I hope you appreciate every meal for what it is: a meal. I've learned time and time again that meal times are what you make of it-- that the experience is significantly more than food intake. Meals, for me, are mindful and pleasant when I've taken the time to appreciate the time and effort that goes into preparation, the flavors that comfort my body and the people I share the experience with. This holiday is a time to celebrate a life well lived. It's a chance to be proud of our accomplishments, while appreciating our struggles, and giving thanks to those who have helped us get to where we are.
Have a healthy, happy and mindful Thanksgiving.
Ending on a lighter note:
I couldn't resist.