Yesterday, my family and I headed out in the early morning for a road trip to explore Minnesota, a state we visit annually in the summer. We travelled down roads lined with looming pine trees and passed glimmering lakes that sparkled under the morning sun. We stopped at some landmark destinations, including two lighthouses and a waterfall, and eventually ended up back in the car, tired but content.
On the way home, my brother enthusiastically convinced my parents into stopping at a quaint candy shop he had seen on the drive up. It was a little red and white house complete with two large windows and an inviting porch. It looked exactly like something I would have delighted over in my younger years, but this time I kept quiet in the backseat as my anxiety built.
My mom peered over at me with a hopeful look in her eyes, “Will you try a piece of candy?” She asked. But all I could muster in response was a harsh, “No!” I flinched at the words as they escaped my mouth, Ed was clearly not going to let this happen. He was going to ruin a perfectly normal time, and suck the fun out of stopping at a cute candy shop on the way home from a long road trip.
I slouched defeated against the seat of the car and popped my headphones in, returning as I often did to the music that soothed me. As I sat with my head against the window I began to really think and I could feel the voice of old Georgia battling with the powerful and strong voice of Ed. At first, he did not waver or falter but rather persisted on, “What have you done to deserve a piece of chocolate candy?” and I didn’t know how to argue with that.
Then I thought of all the times my family and I had made this trek up to Minnesota before. Every summer since I was born we have packed our bags and relished in the sacred family time this state has given us. It is our two weeks of respite, our time to get away from the real world and just be with each other. I thought of the trips I had made up here without my eating disorder, how happy I was, how I would not have even hesitated at the thought of a piece of chocolate. And then I reflected on my trip up here last year, how it was ruined and tainted by the darkness of Ed that all but consumed me. How I spent my time plotting and planning reducing my food intake and obsessing over exercise. And in that moment, I made a choice. The old Georgia grew stronger with each passing mile and by the time we had reached the candy shop, I had all but won the battle in my head.
We walked in and I selected a chocolate coconut piece of candy. I will not lie, I felt guilty and undeserving and I walked out into the cool, crisp air as soon as I had made my order. The rest of my family delighted in the treats offered at the store, and picked out two to three pieces of candy. We all piled back into the car and I took a bite of my sweet treat. For all of the anxiety it stirred up, there was an equal amount of pride, because I had just wholeheartedly defied my eating disorder. It may seem like such a small step, a piece of candy may seem like no big deal, but to me, it meant a whole lot. If I keep continuing to win these battles and continue finding these recovery moments soon I hope they will become natural to me. Eventually, I hope the anxiety will fade, and one day, I could be a girl who jumps at the chance of a piece of chocolate.