Yesterday was my 20th High School reunion. I didn’t expect to go.
I went to a pretty prestigious high school. 20 years out, most people have pretty prestigious jobs. Doctors, lawyers, scientific researchers. Me? I’m just a college dropout with no job.
Of course, I don’t think that’s true. I mean it is true. But I am not even a little ashamed of it. I love my life. I have always done what I wanted to do. I have never lived by anyone else’s rules. And I do not judge my success in life by education, money, or recognition.
I am happy. Truly, deeply fulfilled and satisfied. I like myself.
So I guess that’s why I went.
I was cripplingly self-conscious in high school. I had so much fear and self-loathing that my teen years were torture. I was fat. I couldn’t control my eating. I was overwhelmed with life to the point of paralysis. I was incapable of dealing with my giant emotions.
Perhaps that is true of most people. Hormones and school. Being essentially imprisoned with people because they happen to be the same age as you.
But to my miserable teen self, nearly everyone else seemed to have everything totally under control.
To be blunt, the reunion was a lot like High School itself. I ate at a table in a corner with the same person I ate with at a table in a corner 20 years ago. I had nice conversations with a handful of friends from 20 years ago. I was ignored by the same people who ignored me 20 years ago. People who were nice then, even if we weren’t exactly friends, were nice yesterday. People who were obnoxious then, were obnoxious yesterday.
I brought my own food. (And thank God. There was a buffet dinner, but almost nothing I could eat.) Only one person who didn’t know about my food boundaries noticed that I was not eating what everyone else was eating. There was a little eyebrow raising, but nothing major.
My eating habits were, for the most part, not a topic of conversation. But they were the reason I could be there. I was completely confident. Not just in my body, but also as myself. I didn’t feel nervous or awkward. I wasn’t judging myself. I didn’t care if I was being judged. I had a great time catching up with people I hadn’t seen in so long.
Having my eating disorders under control is, without a doubt, the foundation of my peaceful life. It gives me a freedom that I never had as a teenager.
Especially when I have had my body size on my mind for a while now, it was such a blessing to have such a clear illustration of the gifts of having my eating disorders under control. I wasn’t thinking about my body yesterday. I was just enjoying the company and the nostalgia. I wasn’t thinking about food. I wasn’t sitting at home on my couch so ashamed of myself that I didn’t want to show my face. I was just being myself. And liking it.