*This post was originally published on January 10, 2015.*
You saw my face last spring, when I shrugged off a sandwich because I’d “already eaten.” You glanced at my thin arms with a knowing pity.
You nodded when I said I was “ok,” said I “trusted God with it all.” Sure, I leaned on Him, but did I ever surrender to Him? No. And you knew.
You put up with me when I isolated myself and staunchly apposed efforts to help. It was all too scary, too fast. Too real. (RELATED: Remembering a Lost Friend)
So I hid myself away and tried to pretend that running without any fuel was normal and God was still ruling my life. But as I tried to cling to normalcy, I saw it all slipping away. Every checkpoint I missed, every time I failed, I retreated back into my darkness. I didn’t want to admit that the “strong Christian girl” who had stood in front of high school athletes and testified to God’s work of healing, was falling back into the pit of anorexia. That wasn’t how it was supposed to go. I had already lost so much of high school– I’d missed out of opportunities, athletic excellence, even a social life– I didn’t want to go down that path and cross a line through the “prime years” of my life.
I didn’t purposely refuse to cooperate, but fear ruled my heart in more ways than one. While I was afraid to admit that I wasn’t the perfect girl I pretended to be, I was also afraid to give up what had become normal. To me, an empty stomach meant I was tough, and when I was hungry it distracted me from the feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. I was strong, I rationalized, thus: I didn’t need those friends, didn’t mind that rejection, didn’t hurt from the divorce. A fatigued body meant that I was well-conditioned, self-sufficient and able to withstand pain come hell or high water. I fooled myself into thinking I’d built an impenetrable wall to protect me from my past, my present and my future. It only paralyzed me though.
I began to realize that running was no longer the joyful art God had gifted me with, Sunday morning church was a hypocritical cry-fest every week as I pledged to “do better.” Friendships were shallow and the truth was veiled behind a quick smile and a clever wit. I occasionally mentioned things to close friends, but most of the world just assumed I was an über healthy runner who just happened to never sit down, never eat pasta, never eat breakfast and never go a day without doing core. When I began to struggle again– my senior year of high school– I slipped under the radar. For a while, I maintained my weight despite the unhealthy eating habits and even after it slipped, I genuinely declared that I was okay. Even as the number dipped 5, 10, 15 pounds….my rising level of panic was outwardly conveyed as over-confidence and faith in myself. I was convincing myself, but to what end?
So where does that leave me now?
It places me in a raw position, a deer in the headlights of everything I’ve feared: Vulnerability, imperfection, trust and pain. I pushed the envelope for the longest time but here is what I want you to know as a reader, a friend, or a random internet personality who happened to Google “A Grateful Life Lived” on a whim:
Welcome me back to life.
Talk to me, engage me. Please don’t tell me what to eat or how to eat. Don’t tell me how you recovered from an eating disorder over the weekend by just “eating more.” That’s not what it’s about. And it lights a spark in me when I hear people’s misconceptions about eating disorders. That’s why I want to talk, I want the openness. I believe the devil wants us to keep our struggles in the dark, hide away our pain. After four years, I’m done with that. So I’m not asking for unsolicited advice, but I am asking for openness. (RELATED: Fight Against Eating Disorders) Did you know that in an eating disorder like anorexia, the brain does not correctly fire and there are chemical imbalances? Were you aware that telling someone with an eating disorder to “just eat” is akin to telling someone with cancer to just fix their gene mutations.
Then why is it that we rally around those going through chemo but go hush-hush when we hear the words: eating disorder?
I’m not a freak. I’m a young women of God who loves to run and sing and write and explore. I’m also a young women who has harbored much brokenness and pain, who has had the genes for an eating disorder (Yes: That’s a real thing. Click HERE) that were “switched on” in a manner that is out of my control. While I can’t erase the wasted months and years, I can take responsibility for now. (RELATED: Saying Goodbye to Barbie)
That’s why I have decided to share this on my blog. I want to let you all know that I am more than okay. I am beginning to dig my way out to daylight and it is oh-so-sweet. I also want to shed light on eating disorders, something I have largely ignored on this blog due to the openness required. I constantly talk about how God has given me a gift for running but He has also given me a gift to write and communicate. It’s time I go past the surface and share what is on my heart.
Recovery is a long process and I hope to share some aspects of that on my blog as I see helpful. Read it or don’t read it; like it or dislike it. I don’t really care. What I do care about is sharing the truth and ripping off my mask and the stigma around eating disorders. If even one of you becomes better equipped to fight against or recognize eating disorders, my words are more than worth it.
- Mercy Ministries (Christian ministry that offers treatment and online resources)
- Freedom from Eating Disorders (a very helpful site for recovery, understanding and treatment)
- Living in Truth Ministries (I love the “Daily Encouragement” devotionals on this site)
- Made in His Image (a great blog with a Christian focus on body image and eating disorders)
- The Center for Balanced Living (I’m currently in treatment here, and was also in their program back in 2011. I’m very grateful and recommend them to anyone needing treatment in central Ohio)