By: Sophie Hennink
Easter once was my favorite holiday of all. I live in the Netherlands and while I don’t know much about the traditions in other countries, my parents, sister, brother, and I have always gone over to my grandparents’ house to search for Easter eggs. Easter eggs are basically little chocolate eggs that come in all colors and have many different fillings. After finding all of the eggs – sometimes there were over 100 eggs to be found, but luckily my grandpa is not very good at hiding them- we were allowed to eat the them. However, we were not allowed to eat too much of them because my grandma would cook dinner and the whole family from my father’s side would come and join.
Due to my eating disorder and the fact that family dinners are insane triggers to my eating disorder, I have not been able to enjoy Easter ever since I was approximately 11 years old. For anyone who is dealing with an eating disorder, along with holidays usually comes quite some fear, stress, or maybe even panic. You have to step out of your comfort zone, you have to eat with people you don’t usually eat with, and you may have to challenge yourself with fear foods. You may even have to eat somewhere else than at your own safe dinner table. That is very challenging and might be very frightening, but remember that the only way out is through. You cannot simply ignore and avoid holidays for the rest of your life, or maybe you can but then ask yourself if you want to. Do you really want to keep avoiding and fearing holidays for the rest of your life?
For me, facing these family dinners is a big challenge. I do not have a lot of difficulties regarding fear foods, but I am very afraid of being pulled outside of my comfort zone. I am afraid that my family will think I am weird, that they will make comments about my weight or the amount of food I eat, and that they will comment on my eating habits. Due to my misofonia, I also have a very hard time dealing with noises people make (especially eating noises), which makes it way easier for me to just eat on my own.
Despite my fears, I will participate in the family dinner for the second time in seven years again. I will not let my eating disorder or depression or autism or misofonia take any more from me than it already has. I will face my fears because I know fears are like mountains. At first they seem so big you think you’ll never reach the top, but once you have been at the top, you realize the mountain wasn’t that big after all. The next time you’re about to climb that mountain, you might still think it’s very big, but now you know you can reach the top. With time, you get better and better at climbing the mountain and it begins to seem smaller and smaller. Every time you reach the top, your imaginary mountain shrinks, and every time you face your fear, you’ll find out what you did wasn’t that scary at all, and you’ll get better at it.
Know that slow progress is better than no progress. You might want to jump over the mountain all at once, without any practice. Probably most of us are huge perfectionists and if you do something you want to do it 100% well the very first time. We all know that is not a very smart way to accomplish things, and that this way of trying to handle things increases the chance of failing. If you break everything you have to do into little biteable pieces, you will eventually get there, one bite at a time. Remember that it is totally okay to slip once in a while. Practice doesn’t mean everything has to go perfectly the first time you do it. Allow yourself to take little steps, don’t be too hard on yourself, and most importantly try to enjoy Easter, you deserve it.