Preface: I am not writing this because I am proud of my sin, my weakness, or my addiction. I'm sending it out on the waves of the open web with two hopes: 1) That by bringing it into the light, into the glaring public scope of those who know me ( and those very few of you who are reading this and don't), I may decrease it's power over me.
2) That in some way, some unforeseeable senerio, that it may give hope and encouragement to those of you struggling silently with the same battle.
From experience I know that some of you will treat me differently after reading this. Though I don't want that to happen, I am not afraid of it. This is part of who I am but it IS NOT the foundation of myself. You are just seeing parts of me that were hidden to you, though long-known to many others.
I have had an eating disorder since mid-december, 2003. I was 19 and utterly ruined by the recent, harsh blow of my first "break up," though we never actually officially dated. From 16 to 19 I was complete love-struck and absolutely crazy about making said object of my affection as smitten as I. Obviously it was doomed. It was doomed before it began. I would have felt the same about him even if he were 7 feet 2 and a zombie, flesh peeling and spittle coursing irreverently down his gaping jaw. As long as he gave me attention I thought him a prince or sparkly vampire or whatever body your personal "perfection" wears.
I feel bad for him now; I almost even feel as bad for him as I do for that young, desperate, crazed 19 year old me. Regardless, this isn't really about him anyway. It was about my needing him to feel worthwhile, not like this awkward body, poorly educated, and a social nightmare. I'm not sure how long he knew I was emotionally unbalanced and excruciatingly insecure. Maybe he always knew and just felt too much pity for me to tell me. Either way, on a very chilly evening in December he gave me that conversation that all love-sick teenagers dread more than anything else. It was the "I don't really like the person that you've become" etc. etc.
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Now I would agree with his assessment of my just-19-year-old self, though perhaps not with his method of delivering that cruel message. Looking back, I don't like the person that I had become: amoral, driven blindly by my desire to be liked, inventing all kinds of silly stories to make myself look better and my very unhappy childhood appear as quirky rather than largely miserable. But then I didn't hear any of that. Who could bare realizing that you're pretty much a lie craftily projected to attract? Instead my sick brain translated his words to a simple, manageble lie: "He doesn't love me, he doesn't even like me because I am FAT."
Instead of seeking comfort from God, from friends, from anyone, I began mentally scrolling over all of the things I had eaten in the last week. All my "indulgences" seemed evil to me, the true reason that I was "unlovable." And so what had first been an obsession with bending or even inventing truth to make myself sound exciting and attractive, I channeled into a myopic pursuit of physical perfection.
Most woman with eating disorders fall into one of two categories--anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Anorexia is the severe restriction of calories, while bulimia is a cycle of binging and purging. Very few woman struggle with both, simultaneously. And I am one of them.
For over 7 years I have oscillated from starvation to feasting and throwing it all up in despair. As of three years ago, this addiction calmed. It is not nearly as extreme and likely few would guess that I still battle my body every single day. Some days, thanks to God's faithfulness and mercy, as well as intensive prayer and taking part in Steps at the Village church, I don't act on these feelings of ugliness. I can feel them but I know they are lies and I can calmly call them out as such.
Other days I am not so successful. Other days, I eat healthy to meager amounts of food at each meal and then quietly throw it all back up again. Other days I pretend to eat, pushing my food around or keeping myself so busy that no one notices that I haven't eaten in 14 or 15 hours. Both make me hate myself so intensely. What makes it worse--I have cilia, a disease that means my body cant digest gluten, found in nearly every great and delicious food.
Imagine fighting food on both sides, simultaneously, don't overindulge but eat! But don't eat pasta, cake, pizza, sandwiches, or bread because that would be the same (nearly) as just making yourself sick on purpose. Constantly, my dear husband tries to help me, even cary this burden for me. Every day he agonizes over what to cook--something I like, that I will actually eat, but not something I will like so much that I will lose control and over eat ( or as is more the case, THINK it's over eating, and purge accordingly).
I could tell you more, about how I have all these little tricks I've learned that help (dont eat "bad foods"; only eat foods on the "safe" list, etc), but the truth is that all of these things fail. The only lasting power or mechanism for change comes directly, exclusively from Christ.
In Christ alone my hope is found.
"31 Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
33 “Thus says the Lord God: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. 34 And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. 35 And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ 36 Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it." - Ezekiel 35:31-36
I am still struggling. I will always be unless God is merciful and heals my heart from this powerful addiction. But there is such peace, such beauty in knowing that Christ's mercy was for this sin and tomorrows sin. Hundreds of thousands of sins I have and will commit were ALL FUTURE SINS when he died. And he still died. That is transformative, mind blowing love. For that, and for his beauty, my heart cries out "Abba, Father!"