Dear Readers: This year, for Eating Recovery Day I decided to send a little love and gratitude to something I used day in and day out. Sending you and all those who have walked the path of recovery joy, inspiration and hope.
May 7, 2019
Dear Google Calendar:
It may seem strange to write and ode to you. Perhaps I am one of the millions of users who finds you a true partner in my life and in my recovery. It’s National Recovery Day, but then again, you being a calendar, you already knew that on the date marked May 7, 2019.
You see, I look at my colorful and full Google Calendar, I can’t help but realize how far I’ve come in these years. I can see my upcoming adventure in Alaska. I can see speaking engagements where I will share my story without shame and cultivate compassion and understanding for those with binge eating disorder and those who can help them along the path or recovery. I will inspire others to move mountains in their lives – knowing that sometimes just getting out the door is a mountain.
I have always loved calendars – even the paper kinds – but how I use them has shifted dramatically in the years since I put myself on the journey of understanding why I binged and how I could live without doing so to get through life.
Before recovery I would write I would lose a certain amount of weight by a certain date. Then I would countdown how many pounds I would lose by each week or month and fill in the squares. Inevitably, it never worked and with each passing day, I saw myself as a failure for not achieving a certain number.
But in my darkest days of binge eating disorder, all of my intentions faded. I lost track of anything I valued. I didn’t have hikes on my calendar. If there were family outings on the schedule, I’d find ways to avoid them – and contact with people. Being alone in the house gave me a chance to binge. Further perpetuating the isolation that feeds binge eating disorder.
I lost track of days and the things I needed to do. While I was a capable person with a husband, a daughter, a job, and I even remembered to take the recycling out, I was crushed by the mission of eating and covering my tracks. The shame and secrecy that was required to keep up this façade that all was fine swallowed anything else I wanted to do. Many of my own ambitions and adventures were erased as I struggled with this – the most common, yet least talked about eating disorder.
At my sickest, I was left with wide-open swaths of time when I would be crushed by the decision tree breakdown – thrashing between anxiety, depression and what we now know as binge eating disorder (the newest, most common and yet least talked about eating disorder). Binging was paramount and my self-loathing crushed any good intentions I had for each day. Every damn day.
I started binging at age 9. My parents were on the verge of divorce and I’d literally hide in the pantry. The sound of chewing drowned out their screaming. The food calmed the terror of uncertainty – that feeling that the bottom would fall out at any moment. And it did, I binged to get through life, day by day, decade by decade until life was just something that was passing me by.
But then several years back, I returned to my calendar with purpose. I put a therapy appointment with an eating disorders specialist on my calendar. And I kept going – even when it hurt to dig through the days to understand this struggle. It wasn’t always perfect but as I healed, I started to see the light, and look forward to new days, with a whole new set of skills to get through it all.
In recovery, many of us need to re-learn how to eat by the clock instead of grazing all day (or night). To restart our schedules instead of binging all day or into the night. We learn that for those of us with Binge Eating Disorder, life is far more complicated than calories in and calories out.
These days, my calendar holds me together. Even today, my to-do list laid out hour-by-hour keeps me on track. So if I start to have an urge to go out and binge, I am reminded of the things I need to accomplish and my values. Google Calendar had reminder that pinged me to stay the course. I am reminded of my kids events so I can be present and participate in their lives.
My appointments with health care professionals has taught me to be flexible. How to deal with stress, to prioritize my life and make room for the unexpected. I have a support team to make life manageable when my schedule looks unmanageable. I make doctor’s appointments if something is bothering me instead of wallowing in the worry that I will be judged. I can make changes and move things around on my calendar – and know that only I am the one with the password.
As I’ve rebuilt my assertiveness and self worth in recovery, I’ve learned my time has value. It has giving me the skills to ask what I need – with now three kids, sometimes that is finding time for a moment to myself, maybe a manicure or maybe a yoga class. I plan and train for my adventures – so I can live a life true to my adventures.
It’s all right there in my Google Calendar.
And dear Google Calendar, you help me track and understand where I am today. When I see more solemn entries – funerals, a visit to a friend with cancer or more recently the anniversary of my father’s death, I can more deeply understand why I might be struggling. It’s about data – collectively understanding where I’ve been and why I might be struggling.
This tool is so much more than an app, it is a way to track where I am today, at this very moment, a joyous beautiful place, because of the recovery work I’ve done and will continue to do to fill this calendar with more of the things I love in life.
So Happy Recovery Day Dear Google Calendar and here’s to a lifetime of tracking the joy and progress of this journey.
Eating Recovery Day takes place on Tuesday, May 7th, 2019. Be a part of the day by writing your own My Recovery Letter here:
What would your recovery letter say?