Summer Freedom…an oxymoron? Not anymore!

“Summer freedom”–I’m not sure if prior to my recovery I would have included those two words in the same sentence and really meant them.

Summer means sunshine, warmth, outdoor fun, beautiful flowers filling the air with exquisite scents, daylight lasting until after 9 p.m., swim suits, shorts and tank tops.  For me, before recovery, my “summer freedom” equaled profuse sweating, with perspiration rolling down my neck and face and my hair sticking to my forehead–a very sexy look!  Added to that was an uncomfortable heat rash, meaning major chafing between my legs and under my stomach roll … painful, and often smelly, not to mention amusing!  When I thought no one was looking, I walked as if a beach ball were stuffed between my legs so my thighs wouldn’t rub together and exacerbate the rash. “Summer freedom” also meant avoiding the beach and pools at all costs–or going only when I was basically the only other human being there because if people saw me in my bathing suit, they would know I was overweight (ummm, I think it was pretty obvious fully clothed, Amanda). “Summer freedom” also meant lying to my friends when they invited me places like the beach. It meant camping, which I actually really enjoyed until the sadness crept in, mainly because camping included eating junk food all day and night. As the rest of the world became excited and energized, connecting with others in the picturesque outdoors, I stood on the sidelines watching–sad, lonely, and ashamed–and all the while desperately trying to portray that all was good and that my life was great.

The truth was my life was far from great as I was tethered to my obsession with food, body and weight. No, freedom was not a word I would use to describe my life, and certainly not a word I would use to describe summer.

However, now that I am in stable food addiction recovery, “freedom” is exactly the word I would use to describe the feelings I’ve been experiencing this summer. I have the “freedom” to take my niece, Georgia, hiking up Grouse Mountain and know that when she gets tired and “can’t walk anymore,” as is almost a guarantee with any four-year-old, I have the ability to hoist her onto my shoulders and keep going. (I know Georgia doesn’t look too impressed in this picture, but I promise we had a super fun day–this was just after her dramatic experience of “being cold, wanting to go home, and not being able to take one more step,” which was followed two minutes later by her “having so much fun!”)

I have the freedom to hop on my bike with my Dad and go for a spin around beautiful Vancouver.

And I’ve saved the best for last:  I have the freedom to snuggle with my niece and feel the pure contentment, peace and utter joy that this little human being is in my life. Yes, I could have done this before, as well as all the other things listed above.  However, they would have been far more physically challenging–I didn’t really have a lap that my niece could sit on!  More importantly, I would not have been truly present, as my mind would have been hijacked either by obsessing over how I looked or what I was going to be able to eat next–or even more devastating, how much I hated myself and my life!

Yes, recovery has brought me freedom to live a life beyond my wildest dreams, including all the ups, downs, and in-betweens that make up life in our magnificent world. It has allowed me to show up for my niece and for everyone else in my life in an authentic, integral way.

Today I am truly grateful that I can honestly say “summer” and “freedom” in the same sentence and know they truly fit together.

Wishing the rest of your summer is full of abstinence, fun and freedom! 

Amanda


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