My recent trip to Marco Island was filled with a slew of emotions. There were wonderful moments, and then there were very challenging times.
So I’ll start with some of the core and lovely memories from the trip. One of my most cherished moments from the trip was laughing so hard that I could barely breathe. My younger sister, Sara and I are a couple of goof balls when we are together. We joke (mostly) that humor is the only way we can get through family trips. What did we laugh about? Oh we laughed about everything. Watching The Office before bed had us in a giggling spell. I had forgotten just how funny that show really is. Driving as we rode in our giant of a rental car, joking that it could fit two Gloria’s (my family’s Honda civic). Laughing at our dad as he forgot how to shift the car into park when we got to the hotel the first night from the airport (in his defense it was 2 o’clock in the morning).
And there were peaceful and enjoyable moments. I loved walking the beach in the morning. I never could get out of bed early enough to see the sunrise, but nevertheless those morning walks were wonderful. I loved wading in the ocean, the tides gripping my ankles. Collecting seashells and conches, searching for sand dollars and coming across horse shoe crabs that had wandered off shore. I loved watching the sunset. The vibrancy of the sky as the sun evaporates into the horizon. Sunsets to me are kind of like chocolate and tea: I could never get tired of them. Also wonderful was visiting the botanical gardens in Naples, home to a mystical collection of flowers and plants, the orchids were my favorite, they are on my list of favorite flowers now for sure. And lastly, and perhaps the best, was swimming in the pool in the evening, gazing up at the sky, watching the moon make her way to her throne. It was the first time since my eating disorder that I have swam so guiltlessly and blissfully.
Despite these moments of tropical bliss and familial giggles, there were also obstacles and challenges. ED’s voice became a more present than it has been in a while. A few days into the trip ED started to fear coming back home and having gained weight. Summer clothes made it easier to body check, constant time spent with family at meals made it easier for the voices of comparison to sneak back. Ordering at restaurants was tricky, mostly because, my weak, but growing ability to identify internal body cues were blurred by constant external messages about food. All this was troubling. Made my worrying mind all the more worried: was I not as recovered as I thought I was? Did having returned ED thoughts on the trip mean that I was headed for a relapse?
When I arrived home on Saturday it felt so good to be back. I missed the palm trees and the sandy beaches but it didn’t quite compare to the comfort and love that resides in my hometown: my friends, waking up to the sound of my tea kettle, writing, running, playing the guitar. My home environment feels like “recovery” to me, Florida did not. While I was in Marco Island I was on vacation, meaning I also felt a little like my recovery was on vacation too, and I don’t like that. It bothers me because recovery is not something I want to take a break from. It is important to note that recovery knows no time or place, it is a constant way of life, something that is pursued and acted upon each and everyday.
It is inherent that when working towards something like being in recovery from an eating disorder, or recovery from anything that some days or weeks might be harder than others. It could have been that in Marco Island there laid a lot of memories of ED that had been left unexplored and were in some warped way in need of remembering. But the important thing is that I didn’t collapse, I didn’t let the trickling thoughts overcome me. I resisted. I tried my best to listen to my body and less to external messages around food. Recovery takes practice, and honestly I’m proud of myself for acknowledging that I’m not 100% recovered yet, and that is okay. My trip to Marco Island taught me what aspects of my recovery needs some sharpening. Which parts need more care and attention. I have the dedication, the drive and the support now like never before. Each day I’m becoming more and more a recovered soul. I will keep braving the wilderness, what I have learned so far is that it is absolutely worth it.