This is one personal story I didn’t want to share. When a silly conversation led to serious consequences, I couldn’t help but write about it. One of my favorite topics to read and write is recovery. In fact, I’m presently editing my eating disorder recovery memoir.
One thing I learned the hard way about recovery is that it’s a lifelong process. We never arrive. We’re always learning—always recovering. This isn’t a bad thing unless we’re in denial of it and don’t respect our need to stay alert to triggers.
Silly conversations aren’t unusual at our family’s dinner table. We all have a great sense of humor—especially my husband. He can turn a serious situation into a silly conversation with one sentence. And that’s what happened in this story.
My problem was that I didn’t tune into the conversation until he said something that I took the wrong way. I must have been daydreaming just before he joined in the conversation our two sons were having. I must have had what my husband calls the thousand-word-stare writers get when we’re composing sentences for a project we’re working on. Anyways, let’s get back to the story:
The aroma of a freshly baked lentil casserole wrapped our kitchen in its delicious fragrance of cheese, dill, garlic, onion, and oregano as I placed a baked potato on my plate. I was pleased with the five things I had lovingly made for supper. I asked one of my sons to pass me the sour cream. As I dipped a serving spoon into it, the guys chatted in the background while I thought about the editing I had done just before the oven timer went off.
My husband joined their conversation as I dropped a tablespoon of sour cream on my potato. “Is that skim-sour-cream?” He asked.
The moment I heard my husband’s words, my stomach tightened and my back stiffened. Why did he say that? Doesn’t he remember I’m a recovering calorie-counting-addict?
I had been having what I call a “fat day.” There’s no way I’m chubby, let alone obese. And even if I was, I understand it’s a small thing to concern oneself with compared to the weight of holy or unholy in our hearts. God looks at the heart. And, so should we.
But I am almost sixty. I am a grandmother. I am not as lean as I was in my younger days. Some of my clothes fit snugger now. The pants that were baggy before aren’t anymore. My tummy no longer feels flat. It curves and strains against the waistband of my smaller fitting jeans. My concern had driven me to use my exercise equipment more often, and for longer sessions, in an attempt to keep the bulge at bay.
My middle is—for lack of a better phrase—middle-aged.
I took a bite of the potato and found it repulsive. And that’s when I realized the words my husband said had triggered fear in me. If there’s anyone’s opinion about my weight and size that matters most, it’s my husband’s. But in that moment, it wasn’t concern I felt, I was angry and afraid.
I sat my fork down and said, “There are two things during dinner you must never say to a person who has recovered from eating disorders: I am full. Or the number of calories a food item has. ‘Once an addict always an addict’ pertains to those who have had eating disorders too.”
My words silenced the room. No one replied. Everyone continued eating. And then, one by one they thanked me for the meal and left the table.
Everyone. Quietly. Exited.
I sat there alone with my half-eaten supper. I lost my appetite. The meal I was pleased with no longer pleased me. Guilt for ruining the family’s peaceful dinner emptied my heart of peace and filled my stomach with lead. My dinner tasted like cardboard.
I rose from my spot and tossed the remainder of it into the garbage.
This is rare for me. I don’t snack in the evenings. My supper plate is the last food of the day for me. I cleaned up the kitchen and drank a glass of water. There was no way I was planning on having my customary after dinner decaf coffee. I wanted to avoid any more calories for the day. Maybe I wouldn’t have my after-dinner coffees anymore—at all—ever.
I knew I was running to the wrong rock. I knew even a smidgen of eating disorder behavior was dangerous. To walk in its lies is to stand on sinking sand. But I was overwhelmed by the weight of my husband’s words. I was confused how he could draw attention to the fact sour cream was once a forbidden food for me. When I suffered with anorexia and bulimia, I restricted fattening foods from my diet. Or purged them if I did indulge.
As I wiped the counters beside the sink, one of my sons entered the kitchen looking solemn. He stepped up to me and said, “I’m sorry for mentioning calories at the table. I didn’t mean to cause you discomfort.”
I’m sure my jaw dropped. I was shocked by his words. I hadn’t heard him say anything about calories. In fact, I didn’t hear him say anything about the sour cream. Only my husband’s words had registered in my brain, which I sadly assumed were directed at me and my middle. Not that my husband has ever, ever made a negative reference to my weight. That’s why I was so distressed when I thought he had.
I set the cloth down. “I didn’t hear you say anything about calories. I thought Papa had said that.”
Then he went on to explain that one son had commented that sour cream is pure fat and then the other son had said, “Are you concerned about calories?”
I hadn’t heard either of my sons because my ears didn’t perk to attention until my husband said, “Is this skim-sour-cream?”
My husband’s words had nothing to do with me. He was simply adding some humor to a silly conversation. Skim-sour-cream was a paradox intended to make light of the topic—not to make me paranoid (Pun intended).
And so, I scurried about our home and apologized that a silly conversation led to serious consequences. The blame for the outfall fell to my tendency to tune in and out of the present—not because of their words. Once the dishwasher was filled and running, my husband made our usual coffees and I sipped and savored it knowing all was well in my heart and with my waistline.Be gone, Satan, God’s got this gal in His strong and loving arms. #recovery #memoir Click To Tweet
The next morning, I chose Psalm 62: 11-12 NIV as my verse of the day:
One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Psalm 62:11-12 NIV
And now I’d like to close with a poem:
When we are faint with fear
We must remember God is love
And bow our heads in prayer
And lift our thoughts above
When we are weak with worry
We must remember God is strong
And lift our hearts in prayer
And raise our voices in song.
I’m nosy-to-know if you have a story about misunderstanding a silly conversation?
Believe the best blessings ~ Wendy Mac
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