Thanksgiving: Then & Now

There were many Thanksgivings I had to endure with an eating disorder.

Too many.

With every single one, I couldn't enjoy my time off from school, be present with my family, or really be grateful for anything. This usually resulted in me feeling like the worst piece of scum there ever was -- I had people who cared about me, I was blessed enough to have food to eat while so many people didn't. *sigh* Guilt, anxiety, and depression - my synonyms for "Thanksgiving".

I remember a lot about those Thanksgivings... feelings, though. Never any moments.

Eating disorders take away a lot. But one of the things I hadn't realized (until after I was recovered), was that it took away memories. My mind was never "there" because it was always thinking, obsessing, planning. Even when I tried to shut it out, it was still buzzing just below the surface.

Honestly, there is just one moment I remember back then. I stood a few feet away, maybe four or five, from my parents' long, dining room table -- and a little to the left of it. I remember exactly how the sun was shining through the windows at the other end -- mid-afternoon, a little too warm for fall but too cold for summer. I remember how the tableware had been set -- bowls in the middle waiting for the food my mom was still scurrying over in the kitchen. I remember the purple centerpieces my mom had set up -- these oblong whatsits and purple ornaments on top of a matching tablecloth. And the tablecloth wasn't long enough, so Mom had angled in a (surprisingly) Martha Stewart-type fashion.

And I just stood there. Looking at the empty table and the empty chairs and the empty plates and bowls.

Empty.

These days, I've been lucky enough to spend the holidays feeling full. Happily full. Full of family and friends, full of delicious food, full of gratitude.

Full used to be terrifying. In every way with everything. I guess it still can be, as I sit here on my couch, reflecting about it all. Full is a tough concept, a tough idea, and a tough feeling. But when I am full, I remember moments and I remember feelings. And I am so thankful -- so thankful -- that these days I get to be full of life.

If I could, I would hug every single person that struggles with Thanksgiving. I wish, so much, that I could take them with me so we could be together. But maybe we are, in a way. Aren't we? Because we aren't alone. Because I will think of them, and maybe they will think of me, too -- and try to remember that it can get better.

And that I am thankful for you. Because I wouldn't be filled up by all you wonderful people, now, if I had not been empty back then.

Love,
Sarah

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(Photo from proud2bme.org)