I’m a recovering anorexic. The idea of dinner is not always one of joy and anticipation. It often comes with anxiety and impatience. It’s almost as though, on some days, I’m being lead to slaughter and I just want it over with. The idea of dinner to me is merely one of “this is what normal people do and I need to eat to take care of myself” and it is often a war against the voice in my head that tells me to not eat or purge. It is a battle for me, a battle that is not always easy to fight.
But family dinners saved my life, I think. Well, the “family” part of those dinners. You see, growing up, we ate dinner together every night, and when I developed anorexia, the only reason I ate sometimes was so that I wouldn’t be missing out on my family. I knew I could skip, but I knew if I did that, I would lose out on stories and laughter and joy. The few calories I would put in my body then were probably the calories that kept me alive. There were the days in the beginning of recovery when we all had to learn “safe” topics, we didn’t talk about weight or diets or exercise at the table, and surprisingly, that rule became just a way of being. We talked about deeper things that calories and Atkins. (That’s a hard thing to find when dining with other women.) Dinner was used to heal, it was used to wage battle, and it was used to defeat the eating disorder monster.
When I got divorced, I got out of the habit of dinner. I often just snacked or skipped. And then, I relapsed. It was that way for nearly two years. I didn’t eat dinner with anyone unless it was a special occasion, but I didn’t have the need to “catch up” with everyone’s days. Then I met Collin, and he wanted dinner. I was at a loss. I didn’t want dinner. I didn’t want to eat. But he needed it and when I took a long hard look at myself, I realized that I needed it, too. I needed to form the habit of sitting and eating and sharing what was going on in our worlds. It’s been a place of contention for us, him wanting a meal, me wanting anorexia for dinner. But choosing family dinner, choosing to cook and eat and talk, those things are life saving and life giving. It is where we hash things out, share stories of our days and our students, help each other navigate the crazy world of education and special needs students. It is where we share our passions.
Family dinner is more important than just food. It is relationships and sharing and listening and growing. The memories of laughter and tears and fights and arguments and love that happened at the dinner table bring me such joy. So much joy and hope, that at the end of a long day, when all that is within me says to skip dinner and not do anything, I choose family dinner with Collin, because those dinners cemented my family growing up, and I want them to cement the family we are building together.
Kacy Davis lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is a special education teacher and advocate of those with special needs and loves her job. She spends her time running, reading, and enjoying those she loves. Kacy believes in reinventing what it means to be a woman who loves the Lord and longs to help others learn to love the Lord with abandon, freedom, and a greater understanding of grace. She writes here.