I know that it has been a few days now since Thanksgiving, but I'm just now finding time to write about it. My boyfriend and I made the 9 hour drive to Kentucky to see my family. My brother and his wife and kids were out of town, so my mother prepared Thanksgiving dinner for my boyfriend and I, herself, and her new fiancee. It was my first time meeting him. But I'm not writing about that. Since I'm vegan and no one else in my family is, (not to mention a recovering anorexic) any situation where food is involved singles me out. No one knows how to cook for me, except my boyfriend, so we made some vegan lasagna the night before and brought it over so I could at least have something. Before I met him I would have eaten nothing. I've spent 25 out of the 26 Thanksgivings I've lived through with an empty plate and a room full of family staring at me. It isn't only because of my eating disorder, although when I was really sick, I did enjoy Thanksgiving because it was an excuse not to eat. But even before that, I didn't eat on Thanksgiving. I've been a vegetarian since I was a little girl, so even then I would eat nothing but green beans and maybe a dinner roll. When my eating disorder began, I wouldn't even eat that. This year I had the lasagna and green beans and bread, which may not sound like much, but it's the most I've ever eaten on Thanksgiving in my life, so I'm counting it as progress.
Every year I look forward to spending Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house, but this year, given the 9 hour drive and all, we arrived too late to make it. My boyfriend and I visited her the next morning instead. My mother wouldn't come with us. I don't know why. She promised me twice that she would, and then she went back on both promises. It had something to do with her fiancee, but I don't know the full story. 99% of me wants to be a baby about it and get upset because she's putting the needs of this man over my needs. But how can I blame her? I'm a grown woman, not a child. I made my decision to pack up and move away from home, all the way to Las Vegas, literally putting the entire United States between us. Can I blame her for doing the same thing?
Needless to say, family issues abound. Our entire family structure is cracked and shaking. We all love each other but the atmosphere is more than tense. No one really speaks anymore. It's awkward being around my mother, and it's awkward being around my brother. It never used to be that way and I wish that it weren't now. It all happened after my father passed away, my mother couldn't pay for our house, and my brother moved in to take over payments, and we moved out. My mother dating again also has a lot to do with it. But that's not all of it. I know my eating disorder plays a part. Back when it was first developing, I pushed everyone away. I locked myself in my room and spoke to no one. I declined dinner invitations, all invitations really. I pushed everyone away and turned into myself. And now I'm unfolding for the first time, six years later, only now realizing the bridges I burned won't be rebuilt easily. But I want to rebuild them.
On the way back home on Friday my boyfriend and I stopped to see my brother at his wife's family's house. I wanted to see my nieces. I love those little girls so much and I don't get to see them very often. They didn't know I was coming. My brother told them someone special was coming but they didn't know it was me. When I rang the doorbell and they answered it, their little faces lit up and they stared jumping up and down screaming and hugging me. I only spent an hour with them but it was so good to see them. My oldest niece (she's 10) hugged me before I left and said, "Seeing you for only a few minutes was better than not seeing you at all." She's so sweet. A few days later my brother sent me a text that said basically the same thing. Maybe bridges can be rebuilt. Here's to rebuilding them.
Once we left and were on our way back home, my boyfriend drove and I sat in the passenger seat feeling sad and miserable. I was glad to see my family but I was also sad to leave them. And I was still fuming about what happened with my mother. My boyfriend wanted to stop for lunch but I lied and said I wasn't hungry. In reality, I was starving. It was 3:00 in the afternoon and I hadn't eaten anything all day except a banana and some black coffee. I was letting my eating disorder feed off of my unhappiness and anxiety without even realizing it. A few minutes later we passed a church just off the interstate. There was a billboard out front that read in big, bold letters:
PRAY FOR RECOVERY.
It was like a punch to the stomach. Had it been put there just for me?
Pray for recovery.
That's exactly what I did. We stopped for some sandwiches and soy lattes.
I know that I have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm eternally grateful for each and every blessing in my life, big and small. Even when things get crappy and I get depressed, I have to remind myself there is so much to be thankful for. It sounds cliche but it's true.
I have a roof over my head.
Food and water.
People that love me.
Breath in my lungs.
A heart beating in my chest.
That's all I really need, but I have so much more. I've come very far.
God is good. Life is beautiful. We're all beautiful.