Why This Passover Will Be Different for My Eating Disorder Recovery
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
Passover is a Jewish festival of freedom. For years, Jewish people have come together this time of year to celebrate the liberation of the Jews from the Pharaoh. To do this, we have a seder — a festive meal guided by a book that we use to honor the sweetness of freedom along with the bitterness of loss. In my communities, we try to focus on modern-day oppression, reflecting on bonds that still exist in our world. It is also traditional to abstain from eating chametz, or leavened foods, for the weeklong duration of Passover.
Before I struggled with my eating disorder, taking part in Jewish traditions — including those involving food — helped me to connect with my community. As I became entangled with my eating disorder, I lost the joy and connection I felt on Jewish holidays. I started to see each tradition involving food restriction as a “personal challenge” I could either win or lose.
The eating disorder clung to my losses, punishing me with isolation, self-loathing and purging. I could not get through a seder without feeling extreme guilt, and I would plan for eating disorder behaviors once others left the room. Last year, I found true meaning in a seder that a friend and I created ourselves. As we talked about modern-day issues, I passionately read words about liberating others. Yet, I was unable to set myself free; at the end of the night, I purged alone. My eating disorder stripped me of the very connection and hope that made Passover my favorite Jewish holiday.
This year, I am taking my life back from my eating disorder. I will not be subject to its power to silence me and distance me from the people and things I care about most. For me and where I am in my recovery, Passover is not — and cannot be — about the food; I will be using this year’s holiday to reclaim my life, my body and my spirit. I will continue to distance myself from bulimia. This year’s seder plate will feature self-compassion, acceptance and patience — and those things are certainly kosher for Passover.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
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Thinkstock photo via chameleonseye.