Saturday, February 28, 2009
table for two
Brunch used to be my favorite part of the weekend. It was summer. My best friend, Tyler, my puppy, Mars, and I would walk down Columbus to our favorite spot. We would grab a table on the sidewalk, get a bowl of water for Mars, and light up a couple of cigarettes. Mars and I always had the same thing. I would get eggs benedict with the ham on the side--eggs for me, ham for Mars. Our weekend tradition made Sunday my favorite day of the week.
But, meals were never just meals for me. They were a battleground. Eating disorders are perpetuated by a basic cycle: restrict, binge, purge. How much of my meal could I eat without gaining weight? How much was a binge? Did I need to purge, or would I just restrict later in the day? Although I loved sitting outside, soaking up the sun and sharing a meal with Tyler and Mars, my mind was never really there. I was in my own prison, barred off from the rest of the world, deciding what this meal would do to me, what I would let it do, how I could fight it, and how I would win. I loved the tradition and the time spent with my little family, but I didn't enjoy the meal. I was happy that Tyler and Mars got to have brunch, and I got to be there to watch.
This morning, for the first time since I've been in recovery, Tyler suggested we go to brunch. My initial response was that I would be happy to go sit with him and drink coffee, but that I needed to eat my normal breakfast at home. Then I took a stand against my disorder. I can eat a well-balanced meal wherever I am. It is the knowledge of how to feed myself that protects me; it's not eating "safe" foods out of marked containers in my kitchen that keeps my disease from being in control. So, we went. As we walked down Columbus, I thought about what I would order. A bagel, cream cheese and some fruit. None of the foods would be mixed so I would know exactly how much of what I was eating, and it would be the same as eating at home.
We sat down. I saw something that caught my eye. I hadn't been planning on having a sandwich. I had figured out my meal already, before we even left our apartment. Eating disorders leave no room for spontaneity; but, recovery does. I enjoyed a chicken, avocado, bacon and green bean sandwich. It was exactly what I wanted, because I chose it in the moment. I couldn't tell you exactly how many ounces of chicken were in it, whether it was exactly 1/8 of an avocado, or more, or how many carbohydrates were in the bread. But, I can tell you that for the first time I can remember, I truly enjoyed brunch.