Firstly, Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! Our family is in no way Religious, and I’m ashamed to say Easter means chocolate to us and not a lot more. I do envy people with the faith and motivation to give up something for lent, and appreciate that Easter is an important time of year for many people. I did attend a Church of England Primary School so we used to learn a lot about the Easter Story there, but if I’m brutally honest, we were just looking forward to the last day of term where there would be a Creme Egg on our desk when we got in from Playtime (absolutely NOT from the Head Teacher, it was from the Easter Bunny, OK?)
This post will involve a bit of reminiscing. It’s one of my favourite pastimes! Easter, along with Christmas and Birthdays is something my Mum loves. She is big on family, and big on traditions, so it means a lot to her (especially Christmas, she is Mrs Christmas). Probably because she didn’t have the best of upbringings, dragged up in foster homes she didn’t have Birthdays/Easter/Christmas or anything so now she has my Dad, my Brother and I she is in her element.
As I said, traditions are major with our family. More so when we were younger, but I think Mum secretly likes to pretend I’m 7, not 27. I humour her though, and basically I’m a big kid at heart so I’m more than happy to keep up the traditions. Easter Sunday for example, my brother and I would receive an obscene amount of chocolate. It’s a wonder we weren’t obese as kids, when in fact we could have done with putting on a few pounds! There would be 2 eggs at the top of the stairs (1 each). 2 at the bottom of the stairs. 2 in the cupboard when we got our breakfast cereal out. 2 on the chairs where we ate our breakfast. 2 behind the couch in the living room. 2 at the front door. 2 at the back door. etc etc. Basically, anywhere you went in our house, there would be chocolate. Mum loved to see the excitement on our faces when we ‘discovered’ another one, despite the fact they were in the same place every year so we would go straight to them. I’m sure I appreciated the chocolate back then, but now, I appreciate the thought a lot more. We weren’t exactly well off, and Mum and Dad would save from Christmas to Easter, and then Easter to our Birthdays, and then from July – Christmas. No spare money, it went on bills and then saving for the holidays. They worked so bloody hard to make sure we didn’t go without.
A Christmas tradition I will always remember (mostly because Mum insists on saying it in a jokey fashion now) is seeing if Father Christmas has visited our house. My brother and I wouldn’t dare go downstairs before Mum and Dad were awake, we would camp out in one of our bedrooms, awake more or less all night waiting for Christmas morning. When it was time to get up, we would sit at the top of the stairs while Mum and Dad creeped down slowly (they didn’t want to scare Father Christmas just in case he was still here). Dad would open the living room door and walk in, Mum would stay at the bottom of the stairs, “Has he been?” The same sentence every year. “Do you know what, I think he has” – cue my Brother and I racing downstairs like a heard of Elephants rushing to see what Father Christmas had bought. We weren’t spoilt by any means, our pile of presents would be made up of affordable gifts (selection boxes, toys like a yo-yo etc!), but it meant so much to Mum and Dad that they were able to save to buy us something we would like.
Holidays were always such a great time for us, we don’t have a big family, just the four of us, but we enjoyed each others company and it was enough. It changed when the Eating Disorder entered our family. Christmas, Easter, Birthdays all meant big meals out in restaurants, Roast Dinners, lots of snacky food, and general stress to me. We still kept up the same traditions, the same meals out for ‘celebrations’, the same run ups to big events. Easter changed a bit though, Mum would buy me one Easter Egg each year and I could see the pain in her eyes when she gave it to me. I’m not sure if it was a worry that I’d be freaked out and petrified when given chocolate, or a worry that I’d throw it away, or a worry that she couldn’t give me all the chocolate in the world to get me well again. I hate that I ruined it for her. As much as I know how much it means to her, I couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the Easter Chocolate because I was terrified. Obviously, I would buy my family tons of Eggs. I’d get some strange pleasure from going to the Supermarkets and buying a stupid amount of Easter Eggs to give away to other people. Buying the food I wouldn’t, or couldn’t, let myself eat.
I’ve seen a big change in myself this year though. Yes, I’ve bought a ridiculous number of Easter Eggs and a fair amount of other chocolate, but I’ve bought a lot for myself. And I’m bloomin eating it too. Even when I left hospital, assuming I was recovered (I was that naive about anorexia, it crept up on me unbelievably quickly, I was hospitalised – then when I came home I thought “I must be healthy now, they wouldn’t let me leave otherwise would they?”) I thought wrong. Cruising along for years, unknowingly semi-recovered, I did still struggle with the holidays. This year, I’m going to gorge my way through the Easter Eggs I’ve bought myself (secretly hoping that Mum hasn’t been too scared to buy me one this year) and enjoy my monster Roast Dinner. My eating will be all over the place today, and it does make me anxious, but it’s because it’s not in my control. I can’t control what time we’ll be having our Roast, I also can’t control how much will be on my plate and I know it will be more than I’m comfortable with (and I’m used to eating BIG meals). But it’s ok. It’s good. I’m petrified inside, but will eat it and I will enjoy it. I couldn’t even summon up the energy to pretend to be happy in the past, I looked openly terrified of everything, so I hope my family can see a change as well.
I won’t bore you with any more of my life story(!) but I will say this. Considering some of the horrible upbringings some children can have, I have been incredibly lucky with my childhood. I honestly can’t think of much I’d change about it. Ok, I wouldn’t have minded being a bit brighter and a bit less naughty at school, but other than that no major problems. As a family we’ve certainly had our ups and downs but the fact is, the biggest ‘down’ is my fault. I hate the role an Eating Disorder has had in our lives. It deserves no place in my family. It has ruined enough. It will not be present today.