The other day, some friends and I went to a frozen yogurt place in Chapel Hill, such a lovely place. It’s a quintessential shop in town on Franklin street, and I was excited. I hadn’t seen these sweet friends from summer camp in a very long time, one in years since we were little girl campers. As we walked over to the shop, the fear began to increase within me. Which flavor had the least sugar in it, how could I avoid eating the yogurt in the least uncomfortable manner, and how could I keep my feet from running the other direction. I could say I am lactose intolerant, which may or may not be fully true. But that would make me into a liar, I loved frozen yogurt before, but ed has taken that away from me.
We got to the place, and my friend suggested the oreo yogurt. Cannot was my first response. Oreos have lots of saturated fat in them, and I have not allowed myself those for too many years. That left me with a whole lot of choices that remained. She got the cookie butter, so I followed suit trying to be as normal as possible in recovery. She also got sprinkles, chocolate ones. I cannot even remember the last time I had sprinkles. Not special homemade sugar free, or organic dye-free superfood sprinkles, but simple, joy-filled, childish sprinkles, that just make you smile.
This was just a little glimpse of the stolen joy of eating disorders. Not only does it take away food groups, time, head space, and oh so much more, but it takes away the childish joy of sprinkles and of life, too. It turns precious little things that bring joy to life, and tarnishes it so it is no longer what it is made to be. Remember being a little girl or little boy and asking for more and more sprinkles, just because it made you happy? I wish for that again, and saw a little moment of that reflected in my sweet treat.
It made me happy simply because it was. What would it be like if there was joy in eating again, celebration in cake over guilt and fear, the delight of tasting frosting, the full feeling of a Christmas dinner, the cold, refreshing taste of lemonade or an ice cream cone dripping on colored shirts and hands held in friendship. Lips covered in melted cream and smiles hidden underneath those, gingerbread cookies and icing decorations, and the childish joy of treats without all of the guilt and shame that ed has come to associate with these things.
I loved desserts and sweet things, and the childish joy of treats. These sprinkles gave me a little glimpse back into the little girl that I used to be, and hope lets me believe that she remains, happy with the sprinkles and all.
This month has been one of conquering fear foods. Psychologically, exposure to scary things makes them less scary each time because our brain learns that it is okay. The other day, I saw the movie, Room. It is about a little boy named Jack and his ma who live in a garden shed they call room. They are locked up by Old Nick, and ma tries to make life in room as wonderful and normal as possible for Jack. One day, they make a plan to escape, when Jack turns five years old, and Ma begins to tell him about what is out there where the light meets the top of the garden shed. And they’re little conversation goes a little something like this:
Ma: You‘re gonna love it.
Ma: The world.
I love that. At first, Jack denied it, he said, ma you’re lying, room is all there is. And sometimes it feels that way, like restriction and this cycle of an eating disorder is the just the world we live in, like disordered eating and diet culture is all that I can hope for, but I think of what ma says, and I apply to this little world of mine, and I think to myself, maybe I’m going to love it; the big world beyond food rules and restriction and negative body image and all those things; I think I’m going to love the world.