I had a moment of mourning the other day, when I realized that if I wanted to be healthy, I could never binge again. The impetus for the mourning was actually reassuring--in a moment of stress I wanted to hide myself in food, live back in that swamp for a while instead of dealing with the issues at hand. But it was a wistful thought, a faraway one, somewhat like when you see an 8-year-old girl and wish you could be her again for a day. It didn't actually cross my mind to do it; less than a year ago, the second I had that impulse I would have been at the grocery store, eyes pointed down so as to avoid meeting the cashier's eye. I tried not to remember who my cashiers were, for fear I'd see them again.
Anyway. It was a memory more than an urge--a remembrance of one way that used to work for me to suppress my stress, however inefficiently and however brief the relief it would bring. And I don't want to belittle that. But the follow-up thought seemed almost grave to me: I will never do that again (I hope; I wish there were a whisper font I could write in, so that I'm not lying now if I turn out to be mistaken). I thought I had already dealt with the sort of "goodbye"s that addicts have when they enter recovery: I have waved goodbye to my symptoms (most of them, anyway) and recognized the pain that comes in having to develop other strategies instead of relying on this one. But I haven't dealt with the real goodbye yet.
I've been lucky enough to have never seriously grieved the permanent loss of someone I love (my grandmother is the closest, but even though she died young, I understood the cycle of life enough at age 11 to get that this was how things would just be sometimes). But those who have done it have reported to me the grief that comes not when the beloved dies or when they're learning how to live in the everyday without that person, but the first time they think "Oh, I've got to call so-and-so and tell them about this" before remembering that the person is dead. I feel like that's sort of what I'm doing here. The urges have diminished--they're not gone, but they're so small as to make the word "manageable" seem overblown. (At least, that's how I'm feeling today. Last week it was different. It's so hard to know in one moment how I could ever have felt anything different.) But they were a part of my life for so long that they feel like instinct, a phantom limb I feel myself wanting to scratch but being unable to.