My New Normal
I could have died.
Those four words hit me like an avalanche yesterday on my drive to the office. It was one of those turning-point moments in my recovery.
For months, I have dreaded the return to the office which is ironic because I was crushed when it closed in March 2020. The thought of returning to normal stoked fear and anxiety. I assumed this was related to the fact that a lot has changed since I left the office two years ago.
When I walked out of those doors on March 11, 2020, I was a broken man. I was drinking heavily, restricting food, beating myself up over everything, and feeling like a complete failure in life.
Now I return in the middle of a recovery journey that has seen me gain self-compassion, put the bottle down, and break free of many of orthorexia’s chains. I’ve finally grieved the loss of my mom, forgiven myself for past mistakes, and learned who I really am.
In many ways, this return to normal should be an opportunity for me to celebrate my accomplishments but yet there has been this fear of falling down again.
I’ve worried that I won’t be able to prioritize myself and my recovery. I’ve feared the temptations to return to old habits. But why? If I’ve come so far, why would I be so scared to return to normal? I think it finally hit me yesterday as I gazed at the magnificent flatiron mountains that surround my office in Boulder.
I’ve been scared to return to normal because my last taste of normal was rock bottom. Between the eating disorder and my alcohol abuse, I was dying.
This isn’t a new revelation by any means. My doctors have previously said I was at an elevated risk of a sudden cardiac event because of the physical toll my eating disorder took on my body. Further, I would wake up in the morning violently shaking from alcohol withdrawal after countless nights of binge drinking.
I’ve known for almost two years now how lucky I am still to still be alive, but yesterday in that brief glimpse of normal, I fully realized how close I was to losing it all. It’s a hard pill to swallow and perhaps that’s why I was so scared to face such a thought head-on. But now that I’m accepting how dire the situation was in 2020, I am ready to move on. I can grow from this.
It’s difficult to put into words what it feels like to realize and accept that had I kept doing what I was doing I wouldn’t be here today.
So rather than fear this return to normal, I’m going to embrace it. I’m lucky to get to return to normal and even more fortunate to have the opportunity to redefine what normal means to me.
I’m not returning to February 2020 normal, I’m returning to a time before the eating disorder and alcohol took control of my life.