We had just arrived at my favorite restaurant: a quaint lobster house on the pier in Cape May, NJ. I hungrily scanned the menu, relishing the thought of buttery lobster in my mouth. My five year-old cousin sat next to me, playing with the rips in my jeans and giggling at the silliness of my outfit. “Nothing can get better than this,” I thought. I was at peace, despite the looming GRE that I would take in just a couple of days.
Suddenly, my world was shattered with a single, heartbreaking text from my aunt– our Nonna had just died. Nonna is my cousins’ grandmother, and I am not blood related to her, but my family and I loved her like our own, and she loved us just the same.
My stomach dropped, I felt numb, and I fought back tears as we sat in the middle of the restaurant– the very room where, just a few minutes before, I had felt so complete. Ed tip toed back into my head with the same old empty promises: “Don’t eat the lobster, and you will feel better. Just restrict, it always does the trick. If you must eat, then purge when you are done.”
I fought Ed with everything I had and ate the lobster, but my mind was anywhere but the restaurant. I felt a strange sense of guilt– why was I saved when I was sick, while Nonna died from cancer? Of course, I know now that thinking like that won’t help anyone, but in the first few hours after the devastating news, my mind raced from one disordered thought to the next.
I love Nonna, and that will never change. I don’t have to throw away my recovery because of a big sour lemon. Life in recovery is not easy, but the difficult times make the joyful moments that much sweeter. When life gives you lemons, don’t restrict the lemonade.