The Dangers of Nostalgia

Have you ever been hit with a memory of a certain period or day in your life? A moment that was precious and wonderful. A moment that filled you up with tumultuous joy. Sometimes I am debilitated by memories, this happens when I take a moment to look at my past, I want to grab onto it and hold it for dear life. The past is comfortable, I’ve been there before. I can recollect the skills used, and I can trust that if I got through the past, I can get through the present.

The dictionary defines nostalgia as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

There are two kinds of nostalgia I find myself experiencing. One type is the nostalgia for authentic events in my life. Like care-free and exciting  weekends away with friends, afternoons spent under warm blankets immersed in a good book with a steaming cup of tea, running in the rain, talking to a friend laughing hard and unable to keep a smile. The second type of nostalgia I experience is eating disorder nostalgia. This is the type of nostalgia that is especially dangerous because it blurs the authentic nostalgia as being a byproduct of ED instead of my authentic self. It’s the kind of nostalgia that sends me back into the cycle of ED, it’s the kind of nostalgia that will break a recovered soul.

I’m starting to long for the days I spent ten hours a day, five days a week in eating disorder treatment. To someone who has never been to a treatment center this may seem unbelievable and ridiculous. “You’d rather be in a treatment center than out in the world living your life?” Actually repeating that sentence to myself, I even realize that it is a weird and twisted paradox. because when I first started treatment in January I felt like I had been thrown onto a foreign land, stripped of comfort and familiarity. I cried everyday all day that first week of treatment. But now I find myself longing for them because they have become comfortable, familiar, going to treatment now feels safe.  As the hours I spend in treatment lessen and eventually come to an end I start to feel as if I’ve been thrown into a foreign land once again. 


When the wave of eating disorder nostalgia comes, I begin to feel as if I have no constant but my eating disorder itself. Without ED I start to live and my life gains color, but my eyes become overwhelmed by the vibrant and exciting colors and the longing for ED follows, like an infant longs for its mother. Will the colors that dance in front of me soon feel like home instead of the cold dark dungeon I’ve left behind? I can’t go back, I mean if I really wanted to I could, but I’ve worked to hard and long, I want it too much, to live a life in color. Even if I am afraid, even if the extraordinary blues and dazzling oranges give me a rush of anxiety. Real life, life without ED could never hurt me in the same way my eating disorder did. Colors don’t take, they only give.

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