Stepping Outside The Box

Well, what a busy week I have had. Last weekend I was in Nottingham doing my volunteering for The English Institute of Sport, conducting sporting tests on potential Olympic athletes.  Then on Monday, I had my birthday present from my two best friends…a trip to London zoo!

What a brilliant day it was. We spent a good few hours at the zoo, looking at the animals, taking photos, having fun. When we finished at the zoo we went for an impromptu meal at a Pizza Express nearby. Yes, that’s right…I went out for a meal I hadn’t planned for. I hadn’t prepared for it mentally and I hadn’t planned what I was going to eat. There was a surge of panic and anxiety when it was suggested we have a meal out. How could I possibly eat out in a restaurant when I have planned for it? I had to try and fight the overwhelming temptation to make an excuse to not have a meal.

 But I had to rationalise it through logically in my mind. I have eaten out in Pizza Express before and I know meals I am comfortable with. Moreover, these are two friends I have longed to have for years, to be able to go out with and do normal things, be in great company, start living life…this is what I have always wanted and now I am being given that opportunity, I cannot run away from it, no matter how anxiety provoking and fearful it is.

So rather than go with my habitual inclination to avoid, I decided if I do actually want friends to go out with and who want to go out with me, then I need to go with it. If I let anorexia creep in and cause me to isolate myself and not participate, then it is inevitable it will make friendships more difficult. Who wants to be friends with someone whose anorexia is so dominant that they can’t do anything remotely normal? That they can’t have a day out and suggest going for a meal?
I didn’t protest and we went for the meal. My friends are helping me reduce the importance of anorexia. A few years ago anorexia would have taken priority over everything. It was the most important thing in my life and everything else had to be side-lined. But now, it is more important to me to have friends, and have a good time with them, than it is to give in to anorexia. And despite my initial apprehension, the meal experience was actually very nice and the perfect end to a lovely day.

I know I go on about it a lot but to have these two friends who wanted to spend their time, money and energy on me, who planned this trip for me, is beyond my comprehension. I just cannot believe it and having spent so many years feeling alone, it  is something I cherish and am eternally grateful for. And whilst I do still continue to feel lonely a fair amount of the time, my friendships are growing and starting to blossom and they are giving me moments, hours, days of happiness, which is a treasured feeling following the many years of complete misery, sadness and loneliness.

And this weekend I have been in Liverpool on a Performance Analysis course, to see if this is an area of sport science I want to go in to. Whilst the course was not fantastic, I really enjoyed having a trip away with my parents and doing something different. And this is another huge change. I have previously hated doing anything outside of my normal routine. My life for years consisted of doing particular things at particular times, day in, day out…I would not, under any circumstances, deviate from my routine. But now I hate routine. I love having something different, like my trip to the zoo, like my trip to Liverpool. Yes, a lot of the time I do think I just want to stay in the house doing my usual thing but when I actually make myself get out there, enjoy it. And the more I am doing it the easier it is becoming and the more I am actually wanting to do it, to be doing different things, to be leaving my comfort zone.

It has been a week of friendship, spontaneity and change. It may only be small steps but they are positive steps none the less and every small step is a step further away from anorexia and closer to turning the key to unlock my prison cell.

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