We are filling the emptiness with normal, not euphorial. That means there will be good days, there will be bad days and there will be Eastwood ugly days (as a couple of nights ago showed much too clearly, but we made it to Day 4). But we are doing it because we are reclaiming healthy, because we are reclaiming the me version of me that the blackness stole, stripped away and hid for years.
Reclaiming normal is being honest with my wife that I needed to eat before we made love, and that the decision had nothing to do with sex or anxiety or blackness, just recognition of hunger.
Reclaiming normal is enjoying being slightly hungrier than I should be (not ravaged with it like I would be), because it meant I could be the most comfortable pillow in the world at that moment.
Reclaiming normal is finding out the next day that I’m not strong enough to eat when I am hungry enough.
Reclaiming normal is believing that if I respect when I’m not hungry (as I feel today), I have to respect when I am (the aforementioned yesterday) and not having the strength to do it just yet – but trying to be a little better at it today than yesterday, recovering one day at a time.
Reclaiming normal is finding joy in reading and listening to music and have these things be undistractable, without hunger-created daze or alcoholic haze.
Reclaiming normal is looking for salad dressings based on taste and a desire to be a healthy vegan, not based on portion control/prediction (or more commonly, restriction).
Reclaiming normal is not wanting to throw up to alleviate the pain.
Reclaiming normal is trying to find digital companionship on this path, reading through the notes on my desktop and knowing that others feel the exhaustion of recovery.
Reclaiming normal is fighting through the body dysmorphic, mentally disemboweling blackness; fighting through its new direction, because while we are strangling it, the gurgling sounds very much like “you feel like you are getting fatter,” “you should not be sitting down right now…” – it is an issue with not knowing, fighting through the uncertainty; but it’s dysmorphically hypnotic, isn’t it.
Reclaiming normal is hoping that the anxiety in my gut is going to ease tomorrow, with one more day under our belts.
Reclaiming normal is one day at a time, as Victoria Moran says in Main Street Vegan: “The great thing about … a day at a time is that there’s nothing keeping you from doing it today. All you have to do is eat foods from the plant kingdom for this day’s meals and snacks, and you’re good. You don’t have to worry about your sister’s wedding next June, your company’s Labor Day barbecue, or what you’ll eat if you ever go to Argentina. Today you’re enjoying a plant-based diet. … Understand that moving two steps forward often has one step back as part of the package. Taking it a day at a time, though, is insurance against slipping because, in the early days when this is still a little bit daunting, you only have to make it to bedtime” (22).
Reclaiming normal is one day at a time, because looking too far ahead is fucking overwhelming.