Dancing to the Beat of a Different Banjo

My memory is often hazy and sometimes bias, yet a moment I will forever remember with great clarity is one of the first interactions I had with my current dietitian. I had just re-entered residential, I was still pretty out of it, and I had no idea what I was in for. I, along with all the girls in the house at the time, were curled up and scattered throughout the living room surrounding the faithful fireplace. We waited, prepared for the Monday night nutrition group, which I assumed would be another set of handouts explaining why our bodies did indeed deserve to be fed, proven by a list of facts about the content of every food group.

As untraditional as the group room setting was, it had nothing on the knowledge I received that night, along with every other Monday night. My dietitian entered the room, as casual and cool as the surfer she is, and started her infinitely wise speech with the abrupt statement, “You must know you know nothing.” She went on to explain that in order to heal and change, we have to forget everything we know. All of the diet fads, all of the label facts, every calorie, and each myth we have had drilled into our minds about what our bodies will do with it; they must all be dismissed and deleted.

Clearly the abundance of information I had collected in my years as a calorie-counter and professional label-checker had done me no good, but the concept that all of the articles I had read on what were “good foods” and what were “bad foods”, as well as every experiment I had tried to successfully lose weight was all nonsense, seemed unfathomable. That being said, it took me a while to realize I was not my own nutritionist and I would have to completely surrender my mind and my body to new information if I wanted a chance at something different. However, the thought stuck with me and, in the name of all things shiny, I have since adopted the identity of an experimenter in my food, as well as my life.

Thus, another commandment on my journey is, “Remember to not remember”. When it comes to trying new things or old things, I continually have to make an effort to know to remind myself that I know nothing about it. Whether it be a food I used to dislike, or an activity I have told myself I’m uninterested in, I must remember that I am new and so are my experiences. One’s pallet changes, along with one’s mind, and life in recovery is far different than that through the eyes of an eating disorder. I have convinced myself of things that have not served me, and, therefore, I must give myself the opportunity to discover what I wish to believe.

With this in mind, I have been on lookout for adventures. When friends of mine proposed to go line dancing at a local spot that offers a tutorial and then a whole night of dancing every week, my first instinct was, “Cotton Eye NO”. I am a New Yorker at heart, and something inside of me cringes at the idea of country music and cowboy hats. However, the person I was, I am no longer (even if I still dream of the NYC skyline and single-sliced pizza), so I chose to remember to not remember. I don’t know what I like, and I am on a quest to discover just that.

In my floral dress and brown boots, out I went to submerge myself in the sea of over-sized belt buckles and plaid shirts. In short, one of my life goals is now to be as intense about line dancing as some of the regulars on that dance floor. I have always loved dance, but my tap shoes do not know how to dosey doe. I got a kick out of following the instructor (no pun intended), and dancing with the range of gentlemen who kindly taught me how to dance free-style. Slow, slow, quick, quick is not as easy as it sounds. But I am willing to learn, and I’ve found a new passion to pursue.



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3 Replies to “Dancing to the Beat of a Different Banjo”

  1. Hey. I hope u don’t mind but Carley left such an awesome post connected to your blog so I checked it out. What an amazing writer you are! I’m very impressed. But that’s not why I’m leaving this reply…

    I want you to know that your quest is an amazing one 🙂 I’ve been reading a book written by women with eating disorders who say things just like that nutritionist you mentioned throw out everything you know every concept of good and bad foods and diets… It seems unreal but as soon as you do it your life changes. You are so right. I haven’t had a serious eating disorder but I’ve always struggled with my weight and real misconceptions about food with a lot of emotional ties to eating. This book has shown me a way to a new life with food I’ve been getting towards a healthy weight without even trying and all people do is ask about diets and what have I been eating?! People just don’t get it but I’m so glad that you do :).

    I’ve heard from my sisters that you are doing well. I’m so glad. I’ve been thinking of you and praying for you for awhile 🙂

    Your blog is awesome..you are a real Rockstar and I feel privileged to know you 🙂

    Take care

  2. Hi Alexandra, it is so heart-warming to find and read your blog through the “mutual” residential centre FB page. I love how you write – and your enthusiasm for a shiny life is admirable. Stay strong in your yearning for more – for you SO deserve it. Congratulations on stepping out of the bubble and wishing you so much happiness + good health in your journey. Much love + light Jen… P.S I loved your re-cap of monday night groups – oh so true to the word! xx

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