I’ve never been to Greece but I’ve wanted to go for many years.
My father’s family is Greek. My Yaiya and Pappou come from a small Greek island, close to the coast of Turkey, called Rhodes.
I’ve always felt connected to my Greek heritage more so than my Danish side. I connect with the large parties, the booming voices, the obnoxious extroverted personalities and the lack of cutlery. I have always felt an affinity with the language and the culture.
My dream of immersing myself in my Greek culture and meeting my extended family is finally coming to fruition. My boyfriend and I will be leaving the country in ten days from today.
I am equal parts excited and terrified.
I am excited because this is something I’ve wanted for a long time. This is an adventure I have dreamed about and yearned for. I picture myself in a white sarong, feeling the heat of the cobblestones on my feet. I picture clear Mediterranean water and warm afternoons. But this excitement is diminishing the closer we get to departure date and is being replaced by fear.
I love my daily routine. Every morning I park outside the bakehouse at Seaforth and grab a coffee. The ladies know my order now and all I have to do is hand over the money with a smile on my face. I go to the gym during the week and I have goals that I have been working towards. I have noticed improvements in my fitness and my health slowly and steadily.
I am frightened because in the three weeks I’m away, my routine will be completely and utterly shattered. I will be in an unfamiliar enviornment, surrounded by unfamiliar people. And this impending fear has shown me that I am certainly not fully recovered yet.
I’ve come a long way since March last year. I’ve been able, slowly but surely and with the right help, to challenge the rigid rules and regulations I had constructed when I was unwell. I have never felt more at home in my body. But there are still challenges ahead that I need to overcome.
These feelings of discomfort indicate a crucial stage in recovery. I will be entering into a world I don’t know or understand. There is no gym. There is no familiar coffee shop.
The reality that I am still frightened by the prospect of compromising my routine shows that I’ve got a long way to go. A normal person would not be phased by the change but would be excited by the opportunity. A normal person would probably be consumed by anticipation.
If I’m being honest, it’s not just being away from my routine that frightens me. It’s the uncertainty around what will happen to my body and that shows that my eating disorder has not been entirely eradicated.
I’m worried that by being away from the gym and my weekly program I will compromise all of the fitness gains I have achieved over these past six months, a fear that feels vain, superficial and out of step with my recovery ambitions.
I fear that the holiday I have yearned for will be ruined because insecurities about my body, weight or shape will return with a vengence.
This trip is more than just a holiday. It’s an opportunity to challenge myself and embrace the unknown.
A part of me is angry. A part of me is furious that I’m still not 100% cured of my body insecurities or my eating disorder. A part of me is angry that after all I’ve learned and discovered about myself during recovery, my past is strong enough to cast a dark shadow over something so wonderful.
A part of me always wishes this had never happened to me. I still wish that I had never gotten sick in the first place. I wish that I was “normal”, whatever “normal” is. I wish that I was able to do all the things my friends and family can do without niggling doubt and insecurity at the back of my mind.
But my illness and my history is something I cannot change.
I have a scar at the corner of my right eye. When I was three years old I fell in the bathroom and sliced the corner of my right eye on a sharp piece of tile. If I had fallen slightly differently I could have lost sight in my right eye. But I didn’t. That cut required stitches and is now a scar. That tiny scar is part of my history and it makes me unique, just like my history with my illness does. These scars, mental and physical, aren’t something I can change or rid myself of. They are part of what makes me who I am today.
The existence of fear has made me reevaluate where I’m at. Because I shouldn’t be scared of such a wonderful experience just because it compromises my routine.
In ten days I will be faced with a great challenge and equally a great opportunity.
I will have to accept and embrace the break in my routine, recognise the discomfort and push past it.
I will remember that recovery isn’t always comfortable but it’s always, always worth it.