Thankfulness Thursday:If This Were My Last Day...

I am constantly reminded how quick our lives can be brought to an end, how abrupt things can change. In an instant, our life can be over here on earth. It keeps me reflecting a lot. Am I living today in a way that I could leave this world pleased and content? Am I pursuing my dreams and living in accordance with my heart? Am I living to the fullest? Am I doing things, acting, speaking, living in a way that will leave behind a positive legacy? Am I living with all loose ends tied up? Would I leave this earth with everyone in my life knowing I love them and how much they mean to me? Would I leave this earth carrying grudges and with unrepaired relationships? Have I done things in my life to make a difference in this world and change a life? Could I depart from this earthly life with no regrets? How many things would I have crossed off my bucket list?

My last day on earth right now holds no comparison to what it would have been in the trenches of my eating disorder. Then, my day would have been spent on the scale, measuring myself every half hour. I would be spending my morning trying on all my clothes to make sure they fit me the same as they did the day before. I would be spending my afternoon going up and down my stairs again and again trying to work off that oh so delicious sorry excuse for a breakfast which I spent 4 hours consuming. My night would have been me isolating in my room watching cooking shows with food so I could use my rituals and not be disrupted. I would be on my computer calculating calories, looking up recipes, making up shopping lists of foods I wish I could consume, looking at pictures of emaciated girls comparing myself to them. I would be consciously watching the clock to time every bite and watch my life slip by. The day would have been spent alone with just me and the anorexia. Every thought, every action, every emotion would be dictated by the anorexia. I could not have left the earth feeling satisfied with the life I had.

Had somebody told me before I would go to bed then that was my last day alive, I know I would have found myself sitting on the island of regret. I would be filling my mind with thoughts of all the time I wasted living my days like I had, of all the days I let the anorexia rob me of and claim as its own. I would be filled with sadness thinking of all I never did but wished I had-traveling the world, walking down the aisle feeling beautiful, having a child, achieving my dream job, eating a piece of my birthday cake, having a golden retriever, cooking a dinner with my husband, have a Mickey shaped waffle at Disney World, be a sister and a friend and a daughter and an inspiration…the list would be never ending. There would be so much I would feel great disappointment in never having done. I could not take ownership over this life and myself. It belonged to the anorexia.  

I have missed out on a great deal in my life because the anorexia planned it that way when it crept into my life. There are experiences, memories, once in a lifetime moments I will never be able to get back from it. Sixteen years of my life was spent brainwashed by the anorexia. I was in and out of treatment centers, living in a world of pain and darkness I created for myself, walking around life like a zombie overtaken my an evil monster that ate away at my mind.

I most certainly would take no pride in my life nor felt it had been the least bit fulfilling had somebody told me a year ago that my earthly life was over. I would not have been able to think of anything I did to leave an impact on this earth except to demonstrate the devastating effects of an eating disorder. I spent all my time and energy invested in trying to be perfect and please the anorexia. I was too busy being preoccupied with food and my body to experience the many beautiful moments of life. It would have been too late to make amends, to mend broken relationships from the eating disorder, to love and accept myself, to decide that I was ready to pursue recovery and embrace a healthy life. I would have left extremely unhappy with my life and myself.

That was a large factor in my decision to commit to recovery. I panicked at the thought of all the things I would never do. I remember sitting in my apartment with one of my safe foods and thinking “what if I never get to have Moose Tracks ice cream again?” “What if I never can go back to Paris and eat a chocolate croissant or return to Italy and indulge in Tiramisu?” I mean, my goodness, what a boring, unappetizing last meal I would have had. Those thoughts spiraled into greater life events, the things I aspired to do and become, the dreams I made as a child. What if I never get to experience a true love and let that love turn into a beautiful marriage and result in a precious child? What if I never get to write a book and speak to large crowds about my experience in hopes of changing a life? What if I never get to have my own house that I can decorate at Christmas time and have a gourmet kitchen to cook fulfilling meals in and create beautiful memories in with my family? It was heart breaking that there was so much left I wanted to do and be but mentally, emotionally, and physically I was absolutely incapable of doing it. There was no way to accept love fully when I couldn’t love myself. There was no way to travel when I could barely walk up the stairs. There was no way to have a child when I could not take care of my own self.

I thank God every day that my life was spared from being taken by the eating disorder. I am filled with such gratitude that I did not become another victim of the anorexia. I was blessed with a second chance. Every day I am learning to take greater advantage of the opportunity I have been given. It is a beautiful thought to know that if somebody today were to tell me it was my last day alive, I would know I was able to give my life new meaning and made something more of myself. I still wouldn’t be completely satisfied for there is still so much more I want to pursue, but I have accomplished a great deal more in life and within myself I can take pride in that I would have never done had I decided to stay entwined with the anorexia. I have done more in the past eight months of actively pursuing recovery than I did in the thirteen years I was sick. I am learning to embrace every moment and take back every single thing the anorexia robbed from me that is possible of being rebuilt or lived again. I dove into life head first fully ready to take on whatever life wanted to give me and grab every opportunity life wanted to provide. Nothing was off limits. No item on my bucket list was too grand or outrageous. If I could dream it, I could do it, and that I would.

God gives me the gift of life every day, but I must remember that tomorrow is never a guaranteed present from Him. It is not up to us how much time we have on this earth, but it is in our hands what we choose to do with this moment now. It is up to us to determine the quality of life we choose to live under our given circumstances.

Take time to step away from all your own issues and drama right now. Unwrap yourself from all your problems. Is how you are living now how you want to be remembered? Think about how you have lived the past days, weeks, months, or years of your life. Is that how you want to spend your remaining days? Do you want your last day on earth to be spent hopeless, isolated, discouraged, and in despair? If not, it is in your power to turn it around. You can choose at this very moment to reclaim your life. In this very second, you can tell yourself that you are ready for a new beginning, a revised you, a renewed life and turn it all around. Life will not wait for you to make that decision. It won’t pause until you decide to live differently. It is going to keep moving and your time is going to continuously decrease so you must act now on change. Vow right now to live your life to the fullest.

Personally, there is a TON more I want to do in life. I have an ever expanding bucket list. I have new dreams for myself being created every second. I witness something I too would love to experience. But I know that I WILL do them as long as I continue to dedicate my life to being authentic me and living in recovery. As long as I am healthy, happy, and living in accordance with God, they will all be achieved. I will never stop taking advantage of my second chance.

Love, light, and bravery,J.L.