How to sum up a crazy weekend on one concise blog and post…the idea makes me even more exhausted! I want to share what I learned while it is fresh though, so here goes…
Several months ago I received an email stating that I was the recipient of a scholarship to the 2016 NEDA conference in Chicago.
The day I got the email, I didn’t really know what this meant. I certainly didn’t know I had just received a gift that was worth several hundred dollars.
It had only taken me a short amount of time online to fill out the simple scholarship form. I didn’t really think I would be a recipient of a scholarship, but I’ve had some luck winning things before, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?
After I received the email, everything began to come together for travel plans. My aunt made the generous offer of allowing my husband and I to stay at her apartment in the suburbs. I got the time off work. I got new tires and break pads.
For me, the eating disorder rituals and habits didn’t happen all at once. Neither did this little relapse I feel like I am going through. When I received the email telling me I had a scholarship for the conference, I was giddy.
Little things weren’t taken into account, just like they never are when it comes to food and me.
I hadn’t always been sticking to a solid meal plan, because of disordered thoughts. I often eat later than is typical, another thing closely related to Ed.
You can imagine this posed a problem for me at the conference. The NEDA, along with sponsors, was kind enough to provide snacks and breakfast and lunches. There was always some delicious looking food sitting out.
The first night I arrived late, though they had some dinner items left out. I did try purple cauliflower, but I didn’t touch the meat dish.
I had been thinking I would eat meals at the conference, or at least “on my own”, without Dan. I didn’t anticipate how difficult this would be.
I realize now that fear, feeling a little anxious, and being without an eating partner all culminated and I became a fearful little girl. I wouldn’t touch that food for anything.
Breakfast the next day and I was a ball of nerves. One of the things I realized just now is that I have a lot of this narrative “you don’t have to eat. You can wait and have dinner with Dan. This food looks delicious, but you don’t even know what you want! You certainly can’t have one of each item! You have a protein bar in your bag, with more nutrients.”
So not only is Ed bringing me down by telling me I don’t know what I want, that something else would be a better option, etc. I also noticed how scared and emotional I felt around the small buffet.
I found myself thinking Dan would like the food, appreciate it more. I wished I could smuggle some to him. Never once did I wish I could smuggle some for myself.
Ed began building a wall the moment he saw food. It was obvious that the food was not for me, even though I argued there was plenty. Ed said no. And I found myself defiantly thinking that I do what I want, I’ll eat later, I’m tired of overthinking…so I didn’t partake. Oh, Ed did allow some pineapple and melon slices though.
It went on like this, and I blamed it on routine. No one there knew me, what did it matter whether I ate “normally” or not. I was thrown off, who could blame me?
But I know it’s more. Yes, I eat better when I have support, but I know support won’t always be there.
I want to be able to know when I am out, that I will be able to successfully fuel myself. I want others to know that too.
I felt like I learned more about myself these past few days, than I did about Ed.
It’s scary for me to write this, because for one, I like to do something, and do it well. And secondly, I know I have a bunch of hard work ahead of me.
I took a lot of notes, met a whole group of women who have struggled just like me, met Jenni Schaefer (Author of Life Without Ed), scratched an adorable dogs head and sat in on a bunch of good sessions and workshops.
I took away a lot of good information. I hope someday I will look back at this experience; a stronger, wiser woman. One who can laugh at her smallness in the room full of people, and joke about being in a conference for eating disorders, and actively engaging in restricting.