I’ve written Christmas-themed posts before: Two years ago I wrote about food and alcohol and other people, and anxiety about food and bodies, and ambivalence, and the difference between stumbling and falling, and the point of it all. Six years ago I wrote about how now (Christmas, as much as new year) is the perfect time to resolve to change, and act on that resolution. Seven years ago (strange to think I’ve been writing this blog so long!) I wrote, on my second Christmas of being well again, about some of the strange contrasts between past and present.
This year, instead, I have a little present for you. It’s the podcast of a conversation I had recently with Tabitha Farrar, who writes an excellent blog about eating disorder recovery as well as running the podcast series and offering materials focused on helping Christmas and other special occasions go better.
We touch on all kinds of important things I’ve written about before. We talk about overshoot (my posts here and here), or why the bodyweight you reach at the end of the weight restoration phase may well be more than the weight you later stabilise at. We talk about what kind of normality to aim for, and why you needn’t settle for the kind that is prevalent without being happy—about how in the end you may find yourself stronger and calmer and happier with food and your body than many people you know (here). We talk about the dangers of the common if implicit belief that your own individual specialness grants you exemption from basic physiological rules (here).
We talk, too, about how to trust in the process of recovery and in the fact that the hunger and the desire to eat and eat and eat really will not last forever. About the ubiquitous availability of food as privilege; about getting away from deathly seriousness around food; about questioning medical orthodoxy; about fiction-reading as possible therapy (here). We even touch on the joyful helpfulness of particular foods—specifically, meat!
And all this in one easily digestible half-hour chat. Have a listen if you like. Meanwhile, on this Christmas Day of 2016, which has the potential to be even more fraught with political divergences of opinion than family gatherings always can be, I shall leave you with words written to me by one reader last night—a reader who expresses that all-too-human kind of wisdom which sees the path, sees the future in which the path has not been followed, sees the future in which it has, and nonetheless still loses its way sometimes.
All will be over in 48 hours and I will wish I had behaved better, not risen to provocation, eaten more, shouted less and then I will start to talk about next year. When suddenly, all the stresses of being who we are will be over (in our imaginings) and we have a Christmas like the ones on the films.
Here’s to managing to let this year be a little more like the one we’d love to look forward to, look back on, and cherish as it happens.