Last night I was going through old pictures, which typically is not a good idea for those of us recovering from an eating disorder. Old pictures can bring back triggering memories and be
unwelcome reminders of how much weight has been gained.
For those of you who don't know, I did my internship in Aspen, Colorado a few summers ago. For a small town girl, this was a massive opportunity. Not only was I working in one of the most beautiful cities in the entire country, but I was also working under a James Beard Award nominated chef. Bill Clinton and Bill Gates were guests at one of the many dinner events I helped prepare for. American Idol auditions, Food & Wine and X-Games events have all been held at the Aspen Meadows Resort, where I worked.
All of that aside, the views were simply breathtaking.
|Aspen Meadows Resort|
|The Dining Room|
This internship was a once in a lifetime opportunity; however, there's a part of this experience that nobody knows about. After having somewhat of a nervous breakdown, I texted, because I didn't have the guts to call, my boss and told him I was leaving two weeks early without any notice. The same day, I packed up my things, got in the car and began the 26 hour drive home.
I remember crying on the phone to my mom that I could not do it anymore. They had me working long hours, I was homesick, and I remember specifically saying, "my hair is falling out." This summer and trip to Aspen is when my eating disorder really began to spiral out of control. Prior to this, I was underweight, but it was not nearly as noticeable as when I came home.
Ever since then, I have felt a huge amount of guilt for not being strong enough to handle such an awesome opportunity. My "I'm not good enough" thoughts really get to me when I think back to this time. This isn't something that I have ever really talked about with anyone, thanks to the amount of shame involved.
Last night, however, after going through those pictures, I realized something for the first time...
|Me at the Aspen Food & Wine Classic and me now|
I was sick. Although I was still in a state of denial, deep down I knew I could not continue on working. There were nights at work where I literally would have to go sit in the bathroom and just cry because I felt so alone. Most nights, I couldn't focus on doing a good job at work because I was too busy keeping myself from passing out.
Today as I look at that first picture of myself with a much healthier outlook, I can finally see that it was actually a good thing I came home early. The guilt I have carried for years has lifted. I might not ever know why I was given such an amazing opportunity, but that is okay.
This morning I feel grateful for my health and ability to finally reflect on this part of my past with a little self compassion.
Photo Credit: Aspen Meadows Resort Website