"When I began my recovery journey, I slowly learned to let people into my life... to a whole new level. Each time I was invited out, for a party, meal or gathering I began to push my boat out and say yes to every one I could make. So yes, the first few social events, I did feel guilty. But it was a positive guilt I guess, as the guilt I was feeling meant I was pushing forward in the right way".
Last night I went to my best friends house with another five of my friends, somehow (I still don't understand how) we ended up fitting most of us on her two seat sofa! It was one of my first small gatherings for a long, long time, years really. (My Anorexia kept me so isolated) We snuggled up on the sofa ready to watch a film, with cups of tea and a crate of chocolate to share between us. Most of us stayed the night too, and I returned home the following day and realised how different my life and mindset are today. (Insert happy Margi face).
When Ana (anorexia) first moved into my life five years ago, I dreaded the idea of going round to my friends' homes, or them coming to mine. I felt I had no space for them, but not in my house, but in my heart. I was brim full of other crap, like worry, work and Ana, that I couldn't fit in anything that really matters in my life. I felt overwhelmed with the demands that came with friends, so I was convinced I was better off alone. Plus they would want me to eat with them, lunches at work breaks, popcorn in the cinema, meals out in the evening, party food at celebrations, alcohol on nights out, and so on. This all meant that I avoided any social events at all costs, I always made an excuse why not to go out, or why I couldn't make it to parties. One because I didn't want to eat, two because I didn't have space or time for friends and three because I couldn't believe I was being invited. "Me? Invited? But why? People don't like me." This would go on like a recording in my brain, with Ana agreeing in the foreground, "Yeah they almost fooled me too, they probably just want you there to make you eat and make you fat."
It wasn't that I didn't want friends, it wasn't that I didn't want to have fun. In fact, it was the complete and utter opposite to that. I had so much fun when I was with friends that I started to feel unbearably guilty when I was with them and having fun. I began to see friends and having fun as a treat, a treat I could only be given permission to have by Ana when I had been "good". But the if when I had been "good" and she was "happy" with me and tell me I could now finally play a board game with my family, or go to lunch with my friend, she still made me feel guilty about it while it was happening. I would feel guilty for having fun with family or friends when instead I should have been exercising, working or being "productive." My friends were amazing, my family were unbeatable, and that made me feel even worse because they would tell me they understood why I couldn't come out, or why I had to tidy my room instead of watching a film because of my Anorexia they were all aware of. I didn't even go to my older sisters 18th birthday meal as I was too afraid of eating in public, at a pub, with someone else cooking for me, a menu full of fear foods and a table full of loved ones... so I just sat at home alone doing crunches... now that really is sad.
When I began my recovery journey, I slowly learned to let people into my life... to a whole new level. Each time I was invited out, for a party, meal or gathering I began to push my boat out and say yes to every one I could make. So yes, the first few social events, I did feel guilty. But it was a positive guilt I guess, as the guilt I was feeling meant I was pushing forward in the right way. "When it feels hard it means it's right." It's that kind of guilt that you feel when you are making progress and need to break old habits and rules you had in place. Each time I embraced my social life, each event felt easier and I felt less guilt... before too long I stopped to feel guilty… full stop. And now... I simply look forward to the social moments in my life, and I constantly make time for family and friends. Now when I am with friends and family I feel incredibly grateful for the wonderful people around me rather than feeling guilty for the time I spend with them, or the food I eat in the company of them. My current life reflects my growth, I may be busy but I always make time in my life for the people that matter. My heart can hold everyone now, there's no room for Ana but there's definitely room for my family and friends.