This is one of those posts that is somewhat embarrassing for me to write, but I think it is relevant and (hopefully) relatable.
During my eating disorder I did an excellent job pushing people out of my life. Not necessarily because I didn't like them, but because I wanted alone time with my disorder. Isolation is often a huge part of what keeps eating disorders "safe" in our minds. The more I pushed people away, the less likely they were to notice my strange eating habits or get in the way or my daily rituals. Most social gatherings are also food-centered - grabbing lunch with a friend, parties with hors d'oeurvres, spontaneous ice cream runs in the summer - which meant I was going to stay as far away as possible.
Unfortunately, holidays also fall under this social, food-filled, eating disorder threatening category. I hated holidays. All of them. So as a way to ease my holiday anxiety, I would simply avoid them all together. Certain holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving forced me to eat a meal with family members, but I usually left shortly after I was done eating.
Other holidays that aren't quite so family-based, like Halloween, 4th of July, and New Years Eve, I have spent alone for the past several years... Which is the embarrassing part of this post. Most people look forward to these holidays, have plenty of friends to celebrate with, and often create lifelong memories on these special days.
As for me, however, loneliness triggers have sadly become a normal part of holidays. To make things worse, as backwards as it may sound, the more alone I feel the more likely I am to intensify the isolation. The logical thing to do would be to reach out and make plans, but after years of pushing people away I fear being rejected.
The good news is, last night for Halloween I had plans with a friend for the first time in years (again, kind of embarrassing). Rather than getting dressed up and spending all of our money at the bars, we simply stayed in, made dinner, and carved pumpkins. Honestly, it didn't matter what our plans were for the night - I wasn't alone.
One of the biggest lessons I have been learning over the past few months is that I am not like most people my age and that's ...brace yourselves... okay. For the longest time I assumed there was not another soul in the world who preferred to stay in on Halloween night, but I have been proven wrong yet again. I think I'm embarrassed to share all of this because it goes against the norm. Learning to be myself and standing up for the things I want in life is still a work in progress, but it has gotten better in a relatively short period of time.
Isolation has sadly been a crutch and a go-to coping mechanism for me over the past several years, especially during holidays. Thankfully, however, I am starting to notice myself crawling out of that dark hole. Spending Halloween with a like-minded friend doesn't sound like a big deal and I could have easily written it off, but I'm choosing not to.
Only 55 days until Christmas! Bring on the holiday season.