Traveling is tough for a person with an eating disorder. When you are in recovery it’s still hard. The anxiety, the beads of sweat, that start to form on my forehead. Those are all familiar signs that we are going to be heading out our door for an adventure.
Why is that so hard for me? It’s because I feel like the situation is out of my control. However, I h have to continually be pointed back to the fact that God is in control. I can let my hair down. I can continue to listen to my body. I can relax and not stress, because God is my refuge and strength.
I am also so blessed to have another blogger whom I love share on this exact subject and her experience with traveling and letting go of so much of the rigid control that comes with the struggles of an ED.
Alexa blogs at ‘The Mindful Maritimer’, and you will love her honest, matter of fact and fun style of writing. She talks about so many of the subjects that I have struggled with, and I feel like she is even farther along in the journey, so I wanted her to share with you all her experience with ‘Traveling and Letting Go in Recovery.’
Traveling and Letting go in Recovery:
Traveling for most people means relaxation, freedom and indulgence; the ability to try new things and put the daily stressor’s aside, essentially to let lose.
Do you want to know what traveling has meant to me for the past three years?
Fear, Anxiety and Stress
I bet you didn’t think that was coming.
Deep down I wanted to let loose, I truly did but there was a controlling force telling me that I didn’t deserve to do so; that I would be seen less of a person unless I continued to portray this perfect illusion I was striving to achieve.
Most kids would look forward to going on family vacations or weekend trips into the city and enjoy the time spent together enjoying good food, laughs and talks. My thoughts were constantly revolving around the next time we would be eating or when I would be able to walk again.
I felt shame but at the same time pride as if I had achieved something great because of my self-control.
I knew things needed to change and that I needed to give up control but I was stuck; trapped in a routine of comfort.
That is until one day I had had enough and made the spontaneous decision to jet off to Paris for a year in hopes to start fresh. In my mind it seemed like a perfect plan; a new city, a new family and plenty of new food. Little did I realize how easy it was to fall back into old routines and habits. It wasn’t until my forth month there that I was comfortable enough to eat the baguette at the dinner table, and another month after that to enjoy the nightly wine.
I lucked into staying at hostels with free breakfast but often resorted to buying my own food because I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to eat the unhealthy food they served.
Hostel Breakfast in Amsterdam
Slowly I started noticing friends shifting away again like they had through college mainly because I was subconsciously pushing them away. When I stopped getting invited to travel and to even just go for coffee I knew enough was enough.
I started slow by allowing myself to indulge in the nightly French desserts and macaroons which didn’t seem too difficult since I was making changes with the other foods that I feared.
It got to the point where I realized that for the first half of my trip I hadn’t even been traveling around Europe because I wasn’t fully allowing myself to let go and enjoy the full culture.
I had instilled in myself that it was perfectly normal to neglect the local cuisine on any of my travels and still considered it to be travelling.
Boy was I ever wrong.
Travelling changed completely as soon as I allowed change to no longer be a fear but a necessity to my life. Letting go was the best thing I could have ever done and as hard as it is to see my body change, mentally I wouldn’t change anything.
Spontaneous dinner out in Italy with my host family
Of course it wasn’t easy, but what in life actually is. I expected everything in my life to magically change when I left for this new adventure, as if a different location was what I needed. Come to find out that wasn’t the case at all; my control had nothing to do with where I was but what I wasn’t willing to give up.
Overcoming a fear gave me not only my life back but lifelong memories and experiences.