This week was the beginning of Lent.
Since I grew up in a religious family, Ana and I used to use any excuse to fast. It was like a free day without any pressure – no one expected me to eat, so there was no pressure to pretend.
Fasting has presented a much greater challenge since I went into recovery.
Here is the understatement of the year: I’m in a much different place spiritually and mentally than I was back then. I’ve changed faiths for starters. I broke off my friendship with Ana and Mia.
But I really wanted to participate in the season of lent this year. The idea is to give up something you really like (often a favorite food) and focus on growing spiritually and praying. It’s also traditional to fast on the first day of lent.
On Ash Wednesday this week, I decided to give fasting another go. A few hours in – the familiar feelings. The hunger pangs I used to look forward to and consider a success. The oh-so-familiar taste in my own mouth. The blurry disconnect. It was all so easy. So familiar. I slipped it on like a favorite, old pair of jeans.
But you know, I think the scars run too deep. I did that for too long to have a good mindset about it.
While I didn’t feel the need to relapse this time, I couldn’t help but start seeing the world the way I used to. Seeing food as poison, noticing others’ weakness for eating, and feeling a little worthless.
I floated down the aisle at Ash Wednesday service in a blur. The priest placed the ashes on my forehead saying, “Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” This reminds me that my life is just a breathe – a moment in time that is passing
I’m playing my own body guard now, and I’ve decided that it’s not safe for me to fast from food. In a way, I think I’m becoming a better body guard to my own recovery – learning things that put me in harms way and avoiding them – even if it does make people judge. I don’t think I really should ever let my guard down. Recovery is not a state of being, it is a daily journey.
I think next time Ash Wednesday rolls around, I’ll be fasting from something non-food related like TV or the internet. Probably I’ll go for something that puts a little more silence in my life.
I’m just not there. And that’s okay.
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