Reclaiming Valentine's Day
By Shira Moskowitz--I still remember Valentine’s Day with my ex-boyfriend three years ago. I remember it because I had to specifically choose the restaurant I would let my boyfriend take me to because I knew the menu perfectly and it was safe.
He didn’t know any of that, but I did.
I also remember the box of chocolates he got me. He was trying to do the right thing. He didn’t know the pain it would cause me later.
I wanted to eat the chocolates so badly. I yearned to be that “normal” person who could eat Valentine’s Day chocolates straight from the box and laugh about it like the girls on the commercials.
But the reality was, that wasn’t me at the time.
I ate two chocolates that night. I tried to convince myself I wasn’t controlled by my eating disorder, but those chocolates haunted me for days. I was trapped, and at the time, I didn’t know any other way.
I’m now two years into my own recovery from my eating disorder and holidays are still hard for me: especially Valentine’s Day.
Every commercial, every shelf on the store and every billboard seems to have a photo of chocolates or a restaurant for dinner.The entire holiday revolves around dinner dates and boxes of chocolates.
For those of us struggling with an eating disorder, it can be overwhelming and triggering.
I remember so badly wanting to explain to my boyfriend at the time that I wanted to eat those chocolates and go to a wonderful restaurant. But at the same time, I didn’t want to do those things.
How do you explain to someone that you want to be part of something, like Valentine’s Day, but that your eating disorder won’t let you? We are caught between two worlds trying to not break the rules in each one and it can be exhausting.
If I could go back three years and tell myself then, the self that was not in recovery yet, what to do, I would tell her this: be kind and be gentle with yourself.
Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day with a loved one, or if you’re like me celebrating alone: be kind and accepting of where you are.
For me, three years ago, that would have meant being proud of the fact that I wanted to enjoy that box of chocolates and dinner with my boyfriend, but acknowledging that I wasn’t ready to do that just quite yet.
If that is you today, be proud.
Be proud of the major victory of even knowing that you want to be in that place someday.
Take a moment to be proud of yourself for having that vision---that vision that wouldn’t have been there before the world of recovery.
The chocolates and dinner dates will still be there next year and the year after that: they will be waiting for you when you are ready.
If you are in the place of being ready to take on that chocolate box and dinner date, then be proud. Be so proud of the place you are in to take on those challenges and live in those beautiful moments of freedom.
And if you’re going to be your own Valentine like I am, be proud that you are able to love yourself and be your own date.
I still want chocolate this year on Valentine’s Day because I just love it.
Chocolate has become one of my favorite, favorite parts of my recovery and I feel like I want to treat myself to that on this holiday.
Will I go and buy the nicest biggest box? Probably not. Will I feel totally comfortable eating the candy alone at home? Probably not.
Will I eat a lot of it? I don’t know. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t.
But I am so proud of myself for even wanting to treat myself to something that I enjoy on Valentine’s Day.
I am my own Valentine and I am proud that I want to do something that makes me happy. Even if I don’t eat it all or even go through with it at all, I am proud that I want to.
For all of us who are celebrating this Valentine’s Day, alone or with someone else, the best gift we can give ourselves is to love ourselves the best we can. Period.
The best we can.
It doesn’t mean perfection. It doesn’t mean anything other than the best we can.
And if we can do that, then we’ve truly conquered.
About this blogger: Shira Moskowitz is an eating disorder recovery mentor, activist and blogger who believes everyone has the right to love themselves for who they are. Shira started her blog, Hello Life: A Year Without A Scale, two years ago to help herself recover from anorexia. She has not used a scale and has been in recovery for two years now. She's made reminding others they are never alone in their fight to recovery her life mission. You can find her blog, resources for her online support group and contact information for guidance or mentorship at hellolifeblog.com.
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