Ever since I was little, I always wanted to visit Machu Picchu. I cannot tell you why, but it was something I wanted to do by myself and have one beautiful thing that was just mine.
When friends announced their wedding in South America, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to fulfil this dream. I had recently felt that I was in recovery, so I made the decision to travel by myself for the first three weeks of the six-week trip, before meeting up with friends.
The key things I learned:
- Preparation in recovery is still key: Travelling on my own for three weeks through various time zones, meant I had to ensure I was still nourishing my body. I put regular timers on my watch to make sure that I was following through on this.I also worked quite intensely in the months leading up to departure with my psychologist to ensure that I had the tools I needed to identify early warning signs and to also be my own in support person in a time of crisis.
- Nothing every goes perfectly…and that’s ok: There were times I cried, times I was overwhelmed, times I didn’t want to be alone with myself, but I made it. All those moments made me reflect and be proud of how I far I had come because I showed myself the self-compassion when I needed it.
- It is worth it: As I climbed up the rocky steps of the Sun Gate (albeit cursing the person who invented steps), the sheer breathtaking view once you get to the top just reminded what life was about. For so long my ED told me that “it” was the most important thing, but this was the proof I needed to see that there was so much more. So much more life to be lived, so many more experiences to have, so many more beautiful sites to see, and so many more opportunities to be proud of what I could do. My brain that could regulate my emotions and show me self-compassion; my body that with adequate nourishment and care could do something so magnificent like hiking the Inca Trail.
My ED taught me a lot of things, some true and some not so true, but in that moment, it taught me that I no longer needed it; I just needed me.
Gabriel is the Program Coordinator for the Severe and Enduring Eating Disorders Program (SE-ED) at EDV