I have spent my whole life trying to be tan. But I never get tan.
My skin is used to tanning with iodine and baby oil. Not recommended these days, but we thought it was the perfect way to tan back in the day, and I always ended up fried and red as a tomato.
I am the one on the left…with the burn lines (hard to really see in this photo). My sister is the taller & tanner one next to me.
After the burn, I would apply Solarcaine to ease the pain of my crisp skin.
Sunshine and warm weather brings a fair skinned blondie like myself many memories of these painful days of sunburn. As I got older I began to get sun poisoning on the areas that had been burnt too much. Sun poisoning feels like a million little bugs biting your skin. It is an awful feeling. And yet, I would go out in the sun and think, “Aww it won’t happen this time?” I was always proven WRONG! And paid for it after!
Even though I always burn, it still has taken me years to finally accept that I will never be the bronzed tan girl I wish to be. I was not created with that type of skin. No matter how much I try or wish or lather Coppertone on my skin to “promote color,” I will not turn brown. I just turn fire engine red.
Why am I talking about sunblock?
Because recovery from an eating disorder or any addiction is similar to my sunblock struggles. You see, many times I hear patients say, “Well they can diet…why can’t I? Well she works out like that…. why can’t I? Well …they skip meals and do fine…why can’t I?” or “She can have just one glass of wine, why can’t I?”
I tell you why. Because they don’t have an eating disorder or they aren’t an alcoholic.
You have to learn to wear your sunblock. And until you realize that your issues are not like the other girl or guy you compare yourself to, you will continue to get sunburned!
You have a choice to protect your recovery. Just like I have the choice to protect my skin.
How do you do this?
Well for everyone it is different, because each eating disorder has his or her own struggles and triggers. I can share with you what has worked for me and then you can come up with your own RECOVERY PROTECTION PLAN.
- I protect my recovery by refusing to believe I am immune from ever struggling again, but that I have the power (with God’s help) to do whatever I can to make sure that does not happen. I do this by knowing what triggers me. You see alcoholics do this! Some resolve to never drinking anything alcoholic because it might send them back down that road. That is their sunblock. For others a drink here or there works. Some commit to going to AA the rest of their life as protection. Do what works for you!
- Each has to search their soul and learn what types of sunblock they need to live a life of recovery.
- I am well aware of what sends me spinning and work to stay away from those things and/or people. I work to fill my mind with things that are life-giving. Things and people that feed my soul. And I stay away from things that fill my mind with ideas and/or make me feel less than.
- I continue to make sure never to skip meals. Ever. Sure, some people can skip meals and not end up with an eating disorder, and skipping one meal won’t send me back. BUT, why risk it? By never skipping meals I am protecting myself from the downward spiral of disordered eating.
- I once had a habit of reading labels…I now have a habit of NOT reading them. My eyes divert away just as quickly as they used to divert to the list of numbers (something that always caused an emotional reaction from me). Now NOT looking is habit.
- I am careful to surround myself with people who are life-giving (vs. Life-Sucking) and rarely if ever talk about food, body, and or dieting.
- I frequently work on my own self-care. I know that if I don’t take care of me I am not able to help anyone else.
These are some of the ways that I wear my sunblock and protect my recovery.
You have a choice on your path to recovery.
You can continue to wish you had the darker skin and even put baby oil on it trying to will it tan, or you can radically accept your struggles, what triggers you, and learn to incorporate your sunblock wearing techniques into your life! Stop comparing your recovery to others…find what works for you..and in that you will stay away from getting burnt!
Protect your recovery!