But there's a different level of comparison that I dread as well: Returning home for the holidays gives also means getting to see all the friends I've grown up with. I love them unconditionally, and know they love me, but seeing everyone always stirs up a sea of anxiety. Among my closest girlfriends, there exists a steady healthy trio - sure they had their teenage bouts of anorexia (has any girl not?) - but by now they've now reached a pretty healthy, happy plateau. They enjoy dressing up for holiday parties and drool over yummy hors d'oeuvres but naturally stop eating when they're full. There are another couple girls who, having struggled with a bit of chubbiness, are not quite so carefree but are largely pretty pragmatic about balancing celebration and moderation. Then there's myself, and two other friends. We three, it's fair to say, have been highly disordered about food since high school. I don't think any of us have ever been dangerously underweight, but our bodies have fluctuated a lot over the years. While our particular ED compulsions are different (yay diversity!), we all often hover anxiously around the holiday spreads, stress about our wardrobes, and, above all, try to give the impression to our friends that we are "doing okay". When, of course, we're probably pretty obviously not.
This year, when I go home, I'd really like to try to do a couple things:
- Dress up without stressing out It don't want to put on a short, strappless dress on New Years Eve. At the same time, I know that if I wear jeans and a sweater everywhere, I'll feel out of place and bah-humbugish as the only one without any concession to wardrobe festivity. So I'm going to try a compromise. For the first time in...years? I've bought myself a holiday dress I feel confident wearing. The shopping was long and torturous, but I feel so happy to go home armed with something pretty and comfortable.
- No comments about looks I don't want to say "You look great!" and neither do I want to whisper about anyone's figure behind their back. People talk about these things, and it's not always evil, but I don't need to participate. Clothes & hair are fine topics, but it would be better to focus on meaningful stuff. There's plently of more important catching up to do.
- Be honest about the state I'm in This last one is really hard, but I think it's important. I won't resolve, as I usually do on visits home, to exercise/not exercise, eat/not eat, purge/not purge... Of course I'll try to be as healthy as possible, but that type of resolution is usually counterproductive as I'm really prone to the "I messed up once so screw the whole idea" mentality. Instead, the main thing I want to work on is talking about my food, weight, and health issues when I need to. I have a lot of people there who want to support me, but over the years they've let me kind of pull them into my own denial about how serious my ED still is. It's time to start coming clean.
Alright then. Sounds like a plan.