A Life Without Surprises?

surprise Do you know what it’s like to have your wonderful husband fear cooking you dinner because he knows you’re so obsessed with food that if every iota isn’t measured, you’ll freak?

Sadly, I do … because that was me.

Though we usually cooked together, I was usually the one dictating what ingredients we “could” use (only fat-free cheeses in lasagna, only 96% lean beef in burgers … “nothing else!”). I “had” to be in control. (Well, my brain said so, sad but true).

And because of this (unbecoming) controlling nature, my husband feared cooking for me. How sad is that?!

It’s not like he wouldn’t have eaten those versions of foods, but the “this is all I will accept” mentality I had was tough to swallow, and caused many an argument — all because of food or, rather, control about food.

And so one night, when we were newly married and living together, he confessed that he had been wanting to surprise me by making dinner, but feared how I’d react…

Sadly, no surprise there. The truth is, back then, I probably would have freaked, however terrible that sounds now.

That should have been the sole warning I needed that it was high-time to snap out of my disordered eating world.

But as life goes, it wasn’t. Instead, it was just one example of many along the way that led me to believe, “Houston, I have a problem” last summer, when I began blogging and sought therapy.

It makes me sad now to think I’ve squandered almost three years of my life living a life without surprises, without much spontaneity when it could have been more.

Still, instead of looking back with regret, I’d prefer to look ahead, and to think of the progress I’ve made recently. Because as my relationship with food and anxiety and my body improves, so, too, do my relationships and friendships. Amazing, right?!

The truth is, I’ll probably always check out party spreads before choosing, probably always scout out menus online before going out to eat when possible … but I think that’s just being a savvy “shopper,” if you will.

I mean, it’s summer and I’m not going to turn down a BBQ or a party because there will be food there. The old me might have, but I just am not her anymore. And so I might still load my plate with salad or fruit first, but so what, if I’m enjoying everything else, too? Really, no one else cares what anyone else eats.

Food can be pleasure, and now that I’m not mutilating it, it has even more meaning to me.

(OK full disclosure: sometimes I still mutilate — like taking chocolate chips from a cookie — but that’s nothing new, and I’m NOT c/s)…

Another example of progress? I’m not “afraid” if friends suggest dessert after dinner anymore. If I didn’t personally want it, or hadn’t planned on it, I can always have a little taste and enjoy it. And if I want it, I can dig right in!

I know balance more than I think I do, more than I give myself credit for. And I’m really seeing that a life without surprises is boring and not worth living.

Surprises are fun. Sunday night, my husband and I lit our new firepit and were just sitting outside, enjoying the balmy night air. He asked if I wanted to make S’mores.

For a split second, I admit, I paused. Technically, I hadn’t “planned” on them. The old me would have politely declined.

But you know what? With his hectic work/MBA schedule how often are we outside together on a summer night?! How often are we eating S’mores by the fire?!

So I grinned, said, “Sure,” and went inside to grab the fixins’. We made S’mores and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, and it was just wonderful.

Later that night, laying nestled in my husband’s arms on the deck as the embers faded to a dull glow, I wasn’t thinking about the unplanned S’mores, but rather how nice it felt to just “be.”

I wonder if I could have been that girl before, if she was hidden in me? Or if I needed this experience to drag her out? I’ve never been laid-back or easy-going; those adjectives have never described me. But it doesn’t mean I can’t learn to be more flexible.

I don’t want to live a life where surprises are feared anymore.

I want my friends and family to not think of me as being “weird about food.”

I want my husband to feel like he can suggest going to Chicago on a whim, where I don’t turn him down because I’d planned to work out and hadn’t yet.

(Um, yes, we dealt with that during the Christmas holiday in 2006; I’ll never forget it — he was so hurt and I realized I was being ridiculous too late. We ended up going the next weekend, but I’ll never forget that …).

And because I WANT it, I can BE it.

Life without surprises just isn’t fun, and it took me a long time to “get it” but I’m hoping for a surprise home-cooked meal soon 😉

How about you? How do you handle surprises?

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8 thoughts on “A Life Without Surprises?

  1. Honey, we all have our quirks. The trick is to stop them from getting to you. From what I understand you have the eating disorder under control, right ? Now it seems you have to get your husband straight! But I digress 😉
    You’ve no idea how I miss a surprise or two. My life has become as routine as it gets, and being stuck in a rut like this for more than a couple of months is really bad for my psyche. Lend me you’r hubby, will ya ? 😉

  2. Well, my hubby wants to be able to be more surprising with me; it’s my tight-ass nature/DE past that gets in the way. Hopefully in time, I’ll be more laid back and able to enjoy!

  3. I relate to this SO much. When I’m home, my mom won’t begin to plan a dinner before running the entire menu by me, just to make sure I won’t “freak out” when it’s on the plate. I hate this. I don’t want to be thought of as weird about food either. My friends learned not to ask me out to dinner because of where I was 2 years ago. And now I’m trying to “retrain” them to know that I’m okay with going out to eat.

    Suprises are something I’m working on, and I know I’m getting better. It just is taking a lot of time and perserverance.

  4. Sadly I still struggle with this…like if I bring my lunch to work, and co-workers suggest going out for lunch, I panic. But for me it’s more so because of the comments/looks I might get based on my food choices. It’s much better with family, I just wish I were to the point where it didn’t bother me to go out to eat with friends as much.

    You are right…life is too short to “panic” because of surprises!

  5. Exactly, Jenn. ” And now I’m trying to “retrain” them to know that I’m okay with going out to eat. ”

    I’ve been disordered for four years more or less. I had to retrain me, and now others … it’s hard.

    Holly, I used to refuse lunches out or only at “safe spots” but what was I fearing? I’d get a salad anywhere I went anyway … or a turkey sandwich — exactly what I was bringing in my lunch bag anyway.

  6. Because of my ED past, I’m a “no alarms and no surprises” type of gal with food. If I’m surprised by friends wanting to get McFlurries or something, I’ll get one and only take a few bites because it wasn’t “planned”.

    I was worried when I got married that I would be anxious when it came to making/sharing meals with my husband, but it has been great! We will cook together and I’ll handle things like making sure beef is well drained. He’ll add more cheese on top of his, I’ll have less. I serve myself so that I get exactly as much as I want. He’ll bbq for us but I’ll help pick out some veggies.

    Maybe some of these things are considered coping mechanisms, but over the years I have gotten more spontaneous with hanging out with friends or changing plans quickly. By nature though, I like to schedule and plan my days. It takes me a while to adjust to change…I cried when we got new appliances because the old ones were, well, familiar! :0)

    I like to think that the world needs structured people like me!

  7. LG, I think the system you have developed is similar to what we’ve developed. We grill –but I make sure there’s lots of veggies. I make homemade sweet potato fries for me, and make him homemade regular Idaho potato fries (he’s from El Sal, where sweet potatoes are a dessert; he can’t eat them as a meal!); we use leaner cuts of beef now … but if he buys 90% lean instead of 96% lean I don’t freak like I might have a few years ago!

    I agree, the world needs structured people — it’s just when we are so inflexible that it becomes a real problem.

  8. I have definitely struggled with this in the past. It’s gotten alot better but it still can be tough. My sister invited me camping a couple weekends ago and my first thought was chips, beer, burgers, sitting around. It just scared me. But I have so much fun camping I couldn’t turn it down and just ate in moderation which is key for me.

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