They always say, ‘you learn something new every day’. This past week definitely proved that notion to me.
If you know me in person, or have been following my blog (at all), you’d know that I am a girl of great structure. In fact, I live for it. I feel happiest when I have a solid plan for my day. In all honesty, it is residual of my eating disorders. I know this. Having an eating disorder is all about, in so many ways, self-control – and not in a good way. As a result, you entire life becomes focused solely on control and order. Even within recovery, I find my only solace is in planning and preparing.
Do I love that I have become this way? In some ways, yes. I would much rather be ordered in my life, than ‘go-with-the-flow’, but that is just me. I do, however, note that in some situations, I more relaxed disposition would not be a bad thing. This week was truly a push for me. First of all, death of a loved one is never something you can plan for. Even in the event that they’ve been ill, or bed-ridden for months (or years), the actual moment in which they pass, is never something anyone is fully ready for.
Following that, the process of grief and the planning of funeral arrangements leads one’s life into a hectic and unstructured daily routine; I never knew, waking up, what the day would bring. Being me, I took an extra fifteen minutes in the morning to plan out my daily snacks and dinner. My family truly eats much differently than I do, so I do have to take it upon myself to prepare my own meals. Even with this prep, there were times that I had to pass up on my broccoli and black bean bowls and opt for whatever most convenient (even one day, going out to lunch with the family at a local tavern).
This week, each and every day, I learned to adapt.
I have always been very passionate about one thing: family values. Whether it be a result of my closeness with my mother over the years, or some residual emotion created solely by my relentless homesickness from my past, being close (physically and otherwise) to my family has always been something I have considered of great importance.
As I have matured, so has this value. Instead of wanting to be close to my family out of sheer fear of missing them, interested in their involvement in my future children’s lives, as we all as my fear of loss whilst being far away has become more focal a point for me. Last week only furthered my desire to stay close to home.
One of my dear Aunts (referred to only as Auntie A) moved far away when I was only five years of age. I do not mean down the road, either; Auntie A took herself all the way to Iowa. As a result, she has been physically apart from the rest of the family for, in my opinion, much too long. She has missed a few births of cousins, my Grandparents 50th anniversary celebration and, most recently, the last days with my Grampy.
Being that my mother is in no way tech savvy (not to suggest that I am), I was given the role as liaison amid my family and Auntie A. Immediately upon getting an update on my Grampy’s state, I was to text my Aunt and fill her in with the tentative details. The whole thing, as risk of sounding cold, felt like a telephone tree organized by a PTA group at a local elementary school; but, instead of planning a class trip, we were planning a funeral.
Each text message prompted me to feel two specific emotions: one, selfish and the other completely regard the other – Auntie A:
1. I began to think about my future. What if I did leave? What if I moved away, started a life and my mother grew ill. Or, my father. Or, anyone. What if for some reason I lost touch with my family, or couldn’t be there when he or she passed? I started to think about how lonely that would be, and how hard it would feel. While I know I would do whatever it would take to come home, plan the funeral and make my peace, the sheer idea of not being around a loved one for their final days has caused me to feel nothing be fear.
2. I thought about how these feelings applied so strongly to Auntie A. It was in those moments where I wanted to take my saved earnings and buy her a round trip, but I couldn’t. First, I knew it wouldn’t be accepted and second, I most likely did not have enough to cover all the costs, anyway. Just know, Auntie A, I thought of you.
This week I had to learn to value of family.
Solace of the Sweet Tooth.
You never fully know your own strengths until the moment you cannot run from using them; you never know what you are capable of, until you find yourself face-to-face with a situation, trumping every other facet of your life.
During a funeral, there are five things you will expect to find:
1. A group of grieving people;
2. A group of people who grieve for the aforementioned grievers, who try to be there for them – in ways both awkward or perfectly executed;
3. Flowers. A lot of flowers;
4. Some type of ceremonial process, however small or spirtually driven;
5. A tray of sweets. Or two. Or, ten.
During the recovery of disordered eating, you’ll expect a few things:
1. The fear of eating after a certain time of night;
2. The fear of being accepted by others;
3. The fear of a tray of sweets. Or two. Or, ten.
For most people, eating a sweet or two (or, again, ten) is part of the healing process. People are typically disinterested in consuming a full meal in these times, but the decadence of a small, three by three inch baked good always seems to mend the broken heart. Typically speaking, I live apart from this.
One of the main triumphs, if you will, of recovery is that your relationship with food evolves to something much greater than it was before. You see food not as something you simply throw in your mouth, to not think of again. Instead, you come to love food. You love the way it tastes, the way you feel following the consumption and so on. So, during times of grief or pain, I’ve found my relationship with food only grow stronger – perhaps only out of fear of relapse.
Unlike some family members, I still ate full meals. My philosophy being that I needed to be strong in this time for my family, and would therefore be no good to anyone weak and shaky. As mentioned before, I did ease up my routine. Eating a few unplanned meals, for example. Not unlike my family members, I turned to sweets for comfort. Prior to this event, I was afraid of baked goods. So much so that I actually had panic attacks following the consumption of a sweet – however small the nibble was. But now, I wasn’t afraid. I enjoyed the treats given to us and let them make me feel better.
I need to stop. I have been working on this post for an entire week. I’ve erased it several times because nothing, in regard to writing feels right. The overall point (which I feel is well showcased) is that my Grampy’s passing will never go in vain. Especially not for me. Not ever. While I am filled with nothing but regret for the way in which it occurred, my Grampy is still – to this day – teaching me to let go, to live, to laugh and to be happy. He’s telling me to stay close to my family, to let go of my fears, to always welcome new people and to smile. Always.
I’ll never let go of that, Grampy.
I’ll never let go of you.