Trip to Holland?

An interesting allegory is being passed around at the Around the Dinner Table Forum, about parents coming to grips with the fact that their child's eating disorder has changed the family. It's called "Welcome to Holland," and it was originally written for parents of kids with disabilities. Basically, you plan on a trip to Italy all your life, only to find that you are now stuck in Holland. You will miss Italy, of course, but it's also important to find good things about Holland. It's said much more eloquently than that, but this is the gist of it.

I know this piece was written more for parents, but to be honest, I relate to it, too--quite a bit. My life now, with the eating disorder, is so different than I ever thought it would be. I never thought that I would likely be turning 30 while still living with my parents. I never thought that I would live to 30, to be totally honest. I never thought things would be this hard. And I see my friends, who are getting married, having kids, climbing the ranks at their jobs, and I get a little bit irked. I know life isn't fair and the fastest path to unhappiness is trying to make it so. But I can't let go of wanting to see Italy.

There are some good things that have come out of the eating disorder. I don't know if I would have discovered my love of writing, for starters. I've met some awesome people. And I have a lovely kitty. Which is all well and good, but it's like being crowned Miss Congeniality. It is, perhaps, better than nothing, but dude, it's not the prize you worked so hard for.

Holland has many nice things--tulips, legal marijuana, and lots of tall, thin blonde people to give me a massive complex. It's not Italy and it's never going to be Italy. I want to be okay with that. Just like in the article, I'll probably never stop wanting that trip to Italy, but I'm in Holland now, and I need to make the best of it.

My life itinerary got massively changed, and I hope to simply accept that there's nothing I can do about the change and move on the best I can.

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Kathleen Williams said...

It's great that you are trying to come to grips with and be content with where you are in life. I think that's the best start to getting to Italy happily.

Cathy (UK) said...

I like the positive slant on this Carrie! I have often wondered if my life would have been very different had I not developed anorexia nervosa at age 12, and lived with the illness for 30 yrs...

I guess what I am about to write will be seen as controversial by some... but, I do feel that given my autistic traits and the difficulties I had with life pre-anorexia (i.e. constant anxiety, phobias, OCD, difficulties understanding others), I was perhaps never destined to do all the 'normal' things in life that most women do anyway. My anorexia nervosa developed because I was struggling with life and trying to work out where I fitted into it. My ED behaviours kept me so pre-occupied that I was able to 'escape' a world I found too confusing and scary.

Had I not developed anorexia nervosa, I probably would still have struggled - with the depression, OCD, social anxiety (etc.) that accompanied my ED. I guess that what I needed as a kid was focused therapy that helped me understand people and integrate myself in the world.

My experiences of anorexia nervosa (and my autistic traits) led me to develop an intense academic focus on the effects of energy deprivation on specific aspects of endocrinology and musculo-skeletal metabolism. This was the field in which I gained my PhD and publications, alongside interests I enjoy. Life has not been easy, but weighing everything up, it could have been much worse....

Amy said...

I'm a firm believer that we all get to where we need to be when we need to be there. So [hugs] to you.

And how do you think Holland feels about this? (;

(It reminds me of the middle child episode of Full House)

Joy said...

i feel EXACTLY like this a lot of the time. i developed my ED as a college athlete and it took me forever to come to terms with the fact that i couldn't have my dream collegiate athletic career after i got sick. it took my body time to heal, and no matter what i did, i couldn't put a time table on Recovery. nor did i think for a second that i would be living with my parents after i graduated from college, but my ED didn't give me much choice. holland is certainly not italy, but it could be worse. i could still be in denial about my ED and living on.. mars? at least there are people in holland. oh, and there's food too. :o)

Kim said...

I related to this post a lot. I think all people have times in their lives when they stop and think, "Whoa, this is NOT where I thought I'd be." We all have these pictures in our heads. I used to see anorexia as this huge detour, but now I just think, "Ok, this is my life, and anorexia is/was/?? part of it." Like you said, it's a recipe for unhappiness to cling to the old ideals. We are where we are, and there is no "right" place to be anyway. It's easy to compare to others (I do it all the time), but your life is yours alone. This is something that's hard for me to accept, but I'm working on it. Also, I've realized that I'll probably get to Italy, so to speak, when I get comfortable and content with Holland.

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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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