The Moment I Came Full Circle With my Eating Disorder
By Z Zoccolante
(Listen to audio in the blue box below!)
We all have places that conjure memories of things we’d like to forget, times we’d rather not revisit.
As my husband drives us up to the boat dock, where we once lived, a cloud descends on my brain. It pushes a grouchy stamp into every corner and takes up space as though it has found its way back into a house it once belonged.
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Memories conjure a strange mix of feelings and still carry remnants of guilt and shame. It takes me a few minutes to get my grouchy self out of the car.
The first time I ever told anyone about my eating disorder was when I checked myself into a 30-day inpatient program. On the outside my life looked like a picture. I’d recently married the love of my life, we had good jobs, and we were living on a 36-foot sailboat in California. What others didn’t know what that my eating disorder (bulimia at that time) was like a volcano about to explode and rain fire on our lives.
Living on a sailboat is synonymous with having no personal space. You can hop, skip and jump from the kitchen, through the living room, and onto the v shaped bed at the front of the boat. For my struggling bulimic addiction of that time, it was equivalent to being in a tiny wooden prison with eyes everywhere. I have sad memories of panic swirling under my skin as I threw up into plastic bags and snuck them off the boat as though I were tiptoeing through landmines.
The main bathrooms for the pier were located near the parking lot. I remember my stomach bursting at the seams as I made my way there. I recall the hatred and loathing that flushed through me as I studied my body in the mirror. The one ironic thing about the boat docks and the hospital were that the showers were similar and I carried my clothes and shower things with me each time.
Tonight, my husband and I arrive for the Christmas boat parade, invited by a friend who still owns a boat. When the sun sets, it proves a wicked cold night in CA. I appear ready for snow and have lost feeling in the tips of my right fingers.
My husband and I make our way out to the edge of the boat dock as the boats parade by with colored light designs, inflatable Santas, and Christmas music blaring over the shimmering waters. People cheer and wave as the boats pass.
As I stand at the edge of the dock I’m suddenly struck with the magnitude of how different my life is from years ago, when I lived here and I was at the worst part of my eating disorder.
Years ago, I remember my husband going out to watch the boat alone because I was being a baby about how cold it was and didn’t want to leave the boat. I don’t recall exactly but it’s pretty certain that I tried to use the time he was away to binge on Christmas sweets.
Addictions are hard. Even though we don’t think we love them more, we chose our addiction over making memories with those we love.
Out on the boat dock under a starry sky, gratitude washed over me. I have come full circle. I’m back to the place that conjures memories, jagged and sharp. But instead of being punctured, I’m aware that I’ve crossed through to the other side, and I’m standing on the other shore, smiling.
I am fully recovered and I want to help others be fully recovered too. If you want to talk to me, I want to talk to you (Coaching/Contact Z).
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Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Joyous Holiday Season.