Good things come to those who wait

The day before I turned 21, I was admitted to the hospital for the first time due to my eating disorder. I had reached a crisis, though it wouldn't be my last. My friends had celebrated their 21st birthdays with a drink and a cake, surrounded by friends. They did shots of vodka and tequila.

I got to do a shot of Ensure.

It was the first of many miserable birthdays, of foregoing my own cake, or throwing it up, or throwing it out. Cake was fattening. I didn't deserve cake.

Since that day, exactly seven years have passed. I am now 28. And today, I finally celebrated my 21st birthday.

I worked my usual long, hellish day. Then, some co-workers and I did our usual weekly Happy Hour outing to a local bar. I ordered my iced tea and some chicken tenders, and we sat and chatted and played with the new iPhone that someone had. We discussed bowling and housewarming parties, skunky beer and old school Atari video games. And then I went home.

For most people, this would be normal. Not even a blip on the radar- a night out (even a birthday night out) with friends.

But for the past eight years, my life has been anything but normal. I've spent several birthdays in treatment or in the hospital. I've gone months without seeing a friend. I've gone months without venturing into a restaurant. Years without eating something fried. Now, I am older, healthier. Certainly not recovered, but certainly hanging in there.

And now that I'm 28, I finally got to turn 21.

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Danielle said...

Happy Birthday! Celebrate the small victories like they are big ones! I hope you now can realize that you DO deserve a piece of birthday cake if you want it, and it is okay to eat, it is not truly "evil". Much love to you and keep yourself on the right path!

Hope said...

Happy 28th Birthday to my lovely, amazing, and very special daughter. You have come a very long way from those past years. I hope this is the first of many healthy, normal, "Happy Birthdays".

We'll celebrate that 21st birthday when you come home soon.

Lots of hugs across the miles!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Carrie!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Carrie!

meg said...

Happy b-day!! What a touching post.

cb said...

Happy birthday! In the light of what you've said, this year I'll celebrate my 18th birthday on the day I turn 19 :)

tokaiangel said...

Happy birthday!

Birthdays are a great time for celebrating who you are and appreciating yourself. You DO deserve all of this - and more.

Not only is this a significant victory, it's also a time to look towards a future filled with all the birthdays to come.

TA x

Anonymous said...

Cheers to you ... and here's to more good days ahead. The sometimes-ambivalence of milestones like birthdays is the pause to reflect and then look forward. It's nice when you can review where you have been in a way that adds meaning ... and meaningful information ... to move confidently through to the 29th year. Happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Like you, I have celebrated many birthdays in hospitals and treatment centers. Although I'm a long, long way off from recovery, I have been celebrating my last 3 birthdays at the beach in Siesta Key, FL. I turned 29 this year.

I just love your blog and read it every day. You are such a wonderful influence on me, and so intelligent, poised, and a wonderful writer! Thank you a million times and more :) Have a wonderful birthday!

mary said...

Happy Birthday Carrie /*****

You do know that you get the whole month, don't you? At least that's what I try to do.
So from one birthday girl to another "you are a mere babe at 28yrs. so keep finding ways to celebrate life"

You rock!

marcella said...

Happy Birthday - as if 60 is the new 40 that makes you 8 so relax and have a great time with the computer games.

IrishUp said...

In the words of the great Poet Boynton:
Hippo Birdie two Ewes
Hippo Birdie two Ewes
Hippo Birdie, Hippo Birdie
Hippo Birdie two Ewes


Rachel said...

Happy Birthday! I hope you enjoy it with lots of yummy cake!

During my eating disorder, I decided I had to distance myself from my family in order for my disorder to be "successful." My family was also going through great upheaval during this time, which contributed to my disorder. On my 24th birthday, my dad and my brother called to invite me out to dinner. This is how we always celebrate birthdays in our family. I was in the middle of a fast, and I couldn't believe that they would ask me out to dinner, knowing that I had great food anxiety. I declined and then spent the rest of the week sulking because my family didn't do anything for my birthday. It didn't occur to me that the reason it went uncelebrated is because I had pushed everyone away.

So, here's to celebrating your life, your recovery and what sounds like an amazing and supportive family. Have a good one!

Carrie Arnold said...

Thanks for the bday wishes, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Carrie - your blog bought tears to my eyes. Only someone who has also been through it knows what a significant victory this is. Keep going on this difficult journey, you are a true inspiration!

Tiptoe said...

Don't know what happened to my comment, because I know I posted.

Carrie, I am so glad you enjoyed your birthday and realized how deserving you are. Cheers to many more! You've come a long way! ;-)

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About Me

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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