Okay, just breathe. You can do this, and you won’t F’-up. Those were the words scrolling through the marquis in my head a couple days ago. This last week has been a doozy. I gotta be honest in saying that I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come already with this spending ban. I fully expected to fail on day one, but day by day I have realized that the things I used to feel were important and even necessary, simply weren’t adding value to my life in the ways I previously felt they were. These days, the things I’m filling those needs and wants with are far more fulfilling because they’re built around helping others.
It’s not been an easy path, and each day there are numerous times that I will open a browser window, start to scroll through a menu, or just think of things I’d like to buy, and then stop myself. Sometimes I even have entire conversations about why I can’t spend the money in my own head. But, with each day the urge gets a little less painful, and with each urge I feel I get to know myself a bit more. This week, which ends today, will be the end of week 3.
This last weekend was a mad-dash as we still had to figure out costumes for Halloween. Gabrielle was easy because we had already purchased the needed items (except for some sponge rollers) since she was going as an ‘old woman’ or a housewife. Braden was a little more challenging as he really just wanted to walk around and ask for candy, but we had to explain a costume was required. Trying to convince someone with Asperger’s that they might be wrong about something is at times one of those things that takes you to the very edge of your patience.
Then, as Sunday drew to a close, I realized I would be spending the next three days with a mix of 7th graders and a handful of their parents. Now, I have said this numerous times, but I am not what you would call a natural ‘people-person’. I’m an introvert that somehow has convinced everyone around me that I’m an extrovert, but I digress, I’m no where near the person I would need to be to truly be extroverted. I need recharge time, and I had signed-up to spend three days with nothing but people on my daughter’s field trip!
Middle school was the biggest starter of ED for me, it was the time I was bullied the worst, and it was a time when I first realized how mean other people could be. Here I was, packing a bag for myself and Gabrielle for a 3 day adventure into my road-trip memory from hell. I broke out in a sweat just folding our clothes up. ED was fighting hard that night to remind me that the size of my jeans mattered to those mom’s that would be there. Just like middle school, ED was quick to point out my flaws that every single mom would surely notice too.
I was more prepared for ED than I had ever been, so instead of listening to him, I packed to be comfortable and enjoy myself, ignoring that niggling feeling in my gut. Those 3 days weren’t about me, they were about my daughter, and she needs to know she’s perfectly her as she was born to be!
It’s now Friday, so I clearly survived. The flaws I was worried everyone would notice were never on anyone’s mind as far as I knew. Apparently, in my new ‘recovered’ life, I’m witty and fun to hang around with because I spent the three days doing fun activities and laughing with the other parents. None the less, I returned from the damp and muddy trip with more love for 7th graders than I ever have before. I learned something important in those few days. First, some people’s kids are utter a-holes. I mean, seriously, I don’t know what ya’ll are doing in the parenting realm, but I might need to do more posts on how to be a parent and not a pushover. The second very valuable thing I learned, is that ED is going to revisit me in life, and it’s always when I least expect it, so I need to be prepared!
I did not purge, nor did I even consider it. I think that alone shows just how far a person who is determined to be recovered for life can come, but ED did come a knocking, and he tried to steam roll me (hence the title, see what I did there?) with every sentence he added to my mental marquis.
Initially, it was at dinner when they announced that they would make everyone scrape their food they left on their plates, and it would be weighed as a group to help combat food waste. In theory this idea is great, but what about for someone who has or is dealing with an eating disorder. I mean, these are 7th graders, and if 7th grade is when ED started calling my name the loudest, then I know some of these other kids were probably dealing with the same struggles I did. I was forcing myself to finish what I dished rather than just being okay with the idea that I might be wasting a few bites. This isn’t necessarily a healthy thing to do when you’ve binged and purged in your past. I realized the reasoning behind it, and having my own kids, I know how wasteful they can be, but the temptation to lose control was still something I had to consciously think about.
I wasn’t anywhere near binging level, but I noticed I was a fuller than I prefer to be. In fact, at home I’ve structured our meals to have the perfect amount for my family of 4, so that I’m not tempted to over eat. This has been a life-saver as I continue to grow as a person. At this camp for a total of 6 meals, everything was all you could eat. My table consisted of a few boys, a couple dads, and a few girls. That meant my eating was mostly compared by ED to the men. Not so good.
By day 2 I had realized this, but thought I could still fight ED about the over eating, so I continued to ignore him. This is where the spending comes in. I brought my credit card to allow Gabby to buy a souvenir shirt or something from their ‘trading post’ and I went with her since she needed my card to pay. Up until this point, I really thought I had ED under control, but the confusion emotionally I was warring with about the meals, the amount of hiking and physical activity I had been doing, and the stop-gap I was seeking to shut ED up, ended up resulting in my buying myself a shirt that matched Gabrielle’s. Now, I’m sure most of you are thinking that it wasn’t that big of a deal, and you’d be right, except that I have rules! I am a RULE follower, so this caused me distress that I had spent money after promising myself and you that I wouldn’t for the next year (except for those rules!).
Today, I am still bothered that this was the method I chose to self-soothe when ED came calling, but the self-discover because of it was insightful. I need to figure out a plan on how to handle ED when ED-moments arise that I’m not expecting like they did this week. If I can pre-plan a method of dealing with the emotions that will likely occur, then I can prevent something that doesn’t force me to address how I’m to truly cope with things. So, this is where you all come in. I’d love some comments or feedback on ideas of how you think I might be able to create a plan of action for the next time I’m exposed for too long to ED’s tactics. What ideas do you have that might help me prevent another small slip in my spending and continued ability to fully ignore ED?
I am very fortunate that every time I saw my wrist when ED was attempting to derail me, I also saw my new recovery tattoo. It continued to remind me that I’m perfectly me the way I came into this world, and that even though I spent $25 on a shirt, I didn’t give in to ED, and that’s a step towards the right direction. I am also fortunate that I can look back at these things and realize and analyze new ways to improve.
I want to be clear, even had I messed up, I am still whole, still recovered. I don’t want anyone who reads this to think that if you take a step backwards that somehow that means you’ve failed. I’ve taken thousands of steps backwards in the last year, and in some ways this was one too. The biggest takeaway is that growth happens when you’re muscle is weak and pushed past the easy place, and that is what I did; it’s what you can do too!
So, as week 3 comes to it’s end:
Savings (total) – I’m going to break this down for ya:
Money saved eating out the last 3 weeks – $180 not spent on breakfast and lunch 2x a week as I used to
Money saved on random things the last 3 weeks – approximately $300 by my rough estimation of items I chose not to buy
Money actually spent in the last 3 weeks – t-shirt to match Gabrielle’s $25, 2 pairs of special Pure Barre socks $35, Workout clothes from Walmart $50
Weeks complete: 3 Weeks to go: 49