overseas

I’ve been out of the country on vacation for a couple of weeks, and it’s a bit of a shock to the system to return home and have to take up where I left off. After not having been abroad since my sons were born, I felt so happy to be surrounded by the kind of history that you have all around you when you leave North America.

We were staying with my partner’s daughter and her family, so the fact that Norway is incredibly expensive didn’t sink in as much as it might otherwise have. I was taken back to the days of translating purchases back from another currency to see whether they were outrageous or merely a bit extravagant. Years ago, I lived for periods in Japan and England, and because I had very limited income during those times, I was always doing anxious mental calculations.

I’ve written quite a bit about my time in Japan, and at the time I blamed myself for my inability to be frugal. I was still in the midst of my eating disorders then, and when I got anxious, as I did pretty regularly as a young woman living alone, I would start eating to blunt the anxiety. And then there was the whole cycle of purging, which could also be expensive. I only felt happy my last six months, when I was in sight of a return home and I managed to diet my way down to a weight I liked. There were times I really enjoyed being in Japan, but I also experienced some of my deepest lows there. I remember writing a note for my boyfriend, thinking I would die, and he would find it.

My months in England were about a year after Japan, and I went with my new husband, formerly my boyfriend from Japan. That period was even more stressful than Japan, because he was studying English, and I couldn’t work. We were staying with the same family he’d stayed with during the year before he’d met me in Tokyo, so the costs of room and board were contained, but I couldn’t stop worrying about money, which led to my binging again. Again, as our return home grew closer, I started a diet that allowed me to lose a bunch of weight, and our trip ended with a two week tour around the south of England, during which I was fairly happy. (Setting aside that episode when I slapped Tomo in the face in the Victoria bus station, and he almost left me on the spot…normal honeymoon high jinks, right? Couldn’t have predicted the demise of our marriage from all of that could you?…).

Anyway, the point of all of this is, I think, that it was so lovely to be walking around a foreign country and not stressing out about where to find something to eat or where to purge it. The only other time that happened was on my second honeymoon, when we went to Paris and Hamburg, and I was already pregnant. I had worked hard to become healthier, so I wouldn’t hurt the baby, but I was nauseous from morning sickness. So I wasn’t making myself sick, but I was still throwing up. That’s it. It was lovely to be overseas without throwing up. How about that for high standards?

My earnest wish is that none of my sons or demi-grandchildren (I don’t know what to call Jim’s grandchildren) ever comes to hate their bodies as much as I did. I’ve taken some flak from my sons’ grandmother (my ex’s mom) for not monitoring what they eat more, but I took the position that a woman with disordered eating is not the one to be telling people what to eat. I told their dad early on that if there were going to be rules about food, he’d need to impose them, since he doesn’t have weird food issues, and though I no longer binge and purge, I wouldn’t claim that I’ll ever be “normal” in relation to food.  In the U.S. or overseas.

Norwegian chocolate is delicious. I could live without their ravioli, though.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

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