Let’s stop sugarcoating how to deal with holidays

Ah, Thanksgiving Eve.

There are always a million of pro-recovery, pro-love, pro-gratitude posts swarming around this time of year. These tend to include steadfast tips for enjoying the holidays, as if a 10-itemed list can accurately identify and provide you with all the answers to keep your eating disorder at bay at a time where your biggest vice- food- is what the entire day is all about.

I’m not knocking those lists. I’m not even knocking that advice. I dole it out to my clients on the regular. But here’s what we’re missing.

Yes, there’s family, and family is so important. Yes, there’s gratitude, and that’s even more important. We know this. I don’t have to tell you it.

While I appreciate the efforts to focus on what the holidays are really about, I find it dangerous and concerning to push down the reality of the food component, as if gratitude and connection with our loved ones will alleviate us from the stressors that come with our eating disorders.

Here’s the thing. Food is always going to be here to stay. Food is social glue. Food is there multiple times a day, in every setting, and is necessary for, you know, living. And I can rattle on and on about how we can’t change situations, how we just need to accept that fact, how we can’t let it defeat us. And while all that is true, we also cannot deny that Thanksgiving and the holidays alike can be kryptonite.

My piece.

I love my family. I fucking love gratitude. And for about ten years, I hated holidays surrounding food. I still struggle with them.  My point is, they are not mutually exclusive. Any holiday around food, no matter how actively I practice recovery, brings up some anxieties, desires to engage in old behaviors whether it be overeating or undereating, and general discomfort. I spent many dinners judging the plates of others, keeping score of how “good” I was doing until I inevitably “fucked up” and swore myself I’d start over again tomorrow. I can remember my weight on most Thanksgiving mornings, and most of the Fridays after. I can remember which Thanksgivings became full-pie, midnight binges and which ones entailed daylong fasts until I “allowed” myself a few bites.

This year, I’m doing two Thanksgivings. This year, like every year, there will be a lot of food. Food that “feels” scary and unsafe. Food that I don’t eat everyday. Food that has the capacity to create anxieties and stressors that, even when I know are irrational, suck to have.

I consider myself in a high phase of recovery. I am relatively happy with my body, the way I eat, and how I take care of myself. It’s not perfect. Far from it, but part of the recovery is also accepting the imperfections. With that said, the fall-winter season is still difficult.

I’m not here to write lengthy advice today. You’ve probably seen all the cliched suggestions, anyway. There is no right advice for navigating tomorrow, except for the notion that it’s one day, and one day never has and never will define us and our recoveries.

My only advice for you all tomorrrow? Don’t guilt yourself if you can’t fully stay present with your friends, family, and gratitude. It’s not always that easy, and I’m applying that same forgiveness to myself. Just do your best, reflect afterwards, and know that you’re chugging along, doing what needs to be done. There are no real mistakes, only lessons along the way.

 

 

Another update.

I never saw my therapist.

After confirming date/time and everything, I get a text a few hours later…
Her: how much can you afford for the session?
Me: Is ___ (rate I ALWAYS paid) still okay?
Her: Really need 70. Rent has gone up quite a bit (as if I care?)
Me: I understand. I just can’t honestly afford anything more. I just need a session. If this is possible for you, I’d appreciate it, but if not, I understand.
Her: Wish I could, but I have to pay $20 for the office hour (TMI. I DON’T CARE)…I’d really love to meet with you. I’m already lowering my fee from _____ an hour. (quotes an insanely high price that she’s NEVER charged anyone as far as I’m concerned)
Me: Okay. Can’t do it. Never mind then.
Her: Sorry 😦

Why did she fucking ask how much I can afford for the session? Why didn’t she just tell me, straight-up, that she had a change in fees, and this was what I needed to pay? Who does this? Unethical therapists who can’t keep boundaries, that’s who does this.

I felt so betrayed. So livid. This all happened on Thursday. Couldn’t even think straight. Take a risk, want to reconcile some unsaid things in therapy, want to process our journey, but no. This happens. And it’s not the money. It’s the PRINCIPLE. I faithfully saw this woman for a year and a half- I was a consistent client and one who she said could always come back. I’m not trying to act like I’m entitled. I recognize that people change rates; I recognize that this is common in my field.

But, I would never do that to a client. Thursday, as a matter of fact, I had a client text me out of the blue…he needed a session. It had been six months since termination. He wanted to talk; I saw him the next day.

She never instilled boundaries before. And people warned me. It’s not normal for therapists to routinely text/call their clients, to self-disclose so much about their lives, to complain about office rates and coworkers, to offer me a job after graduation…none of this is ethical. Now she decides to tighten up? Whatever. I’ll process this–if I ever really do process it–with another professional.

Eating has been off-and-on this week. Job training everyday. Lots of candy and sugary snacks and free lunch and junk food provided. Sitting all day. Boredom eating. Or refraining as hard as I can…only to overeat later. I’ve had mini episodes of overeating three times this week. None escalated into a full binge, but I’m on the black-and-white pathway of “good” eating and “bad” eating. In fact, I want to just “binge it out” right now…like get it out of my system.

That sounds so distorted. It’s fucked up. It’s the reality I’m experiencing.

I don’t know. It’s just been emotionally difficult. And I don’t want to do recovery. I want to turn it off for a bit…and go back later. But I can’t even do that.