This post is written to help shed light on eating disorders and spur on freedom and healing. Please note: it may be triggering for some as it contains vague descriptions of eating disorder behaviors. I highly encourage you to use discretion in what you choose to read. If you feel triggered, please reach out to someone for support.
I’m a strong proponent of using words to build up and not tear down. Why then would I have a post that could be triggering to some with a history of disordered eating and/or exercise? I am sharing this because it shares what my struggle has been like and can be a great way to understand the pain of an eating disorder as well as the hope of recovery. I also have removed any specific references to numbers.
So what is “it” that I’m sharing? Well, let’s start with an update.
Life in Recovery
Sometimes, the journey of recovery looks like a hilarious night with friends; dinner that is delicious; relaxing while reading a book. Sometimes, it looks like crying and journaling and crying some more. But I wouldn’t trade either extreme. The highs and lows of recovery—of feeling my emotions—are helping me connect with a life that I have never truly experienced.
It’s nothing short of inspiring to see warriors who are fighting hard and warriors who have recovered. This is an incredibly arduous and lengthy healing process, AND I am confident that it is possible. I’m learning so much and seeing so much hope. Food isn’t nearly as scary, training for my sport is fun, making choices is getting easier, and I’m having fewer panic attacks.
An Excerpt from 2020
But, what if I told you I’ve been fighting this journey for ten years? Would you think of me any less? That is why I want to share an excerpt today from a 2020 journal entry. It’s given me great hope to reread and my prayer is that it’ll encourage you if you are fighting a mental health battle and/or provide insight as to how you can support a loved one who is fighting.
Without further ado, let’s rewind to 2020:
I remember the scorching sun on my face as I climbed the near-vertical road on St John’s island. Maybe I wanted to get as high as I could, in hopes of escaping all the noise.
But when the noise is in your head, no amount of elevation will stifle the screaming.
So I kept climbing and praying wordless groans to my Father. I wasn’t sure what to say. How do you come to Dad after wrecking his brand new Ferrari? “Oops” couldn’t begin to cover it. And I hadn’t ruined a high-priced Italian sports car, I’d ruined my body. Run it straight into a wall and watched as the fragments ricocheted off my best-laid intentions.
I’d wrecked the invaluable body that I’d been entrusted with. And to make matters worse, it wasn’t a past tense thing. I was, even at that moment, ramming myself back into that wall. Over and over and over and over again. I didn’t know how to stop.
So I climbed higher and turned up my headphones. The sound of “Forgive Me” by Tenth Avenue North was enough to crack my facade and bring the tears. I’d heard it just once before and now, a second time, I heard it as my own words. Crying out to my Daddy.
“Forgive me, forgive me, Lord, for living like I’m not yours,” I looked around–verifying I was alone before belting out the words. “I forget how kind you are, you are life for my foolish heart.”
I was 18 and dying and few people knew it. But God knew. He knew then and He knows now. And that reality that should bring relief to my soul mixes an amalgam of grief and fear. Of guilt and anxiety.
My heart cries out: forgive me, Lord!
See, it’s seven years later and I’m still killing myself, still running full speed into a brick wall of destruction. And no one else truly knows. Only Him
He knows the thoughts that interrupt my sleep, my work, and even my time with Him. He knows how I pace and fret, walk and run, count and plan—all in some twisted attempt to earn love.
He knows that at this moment, I’m walking in the heat of the sunshine, terrified of going back to my apartment where I’m faced with food and YouTube workouts and a slowly-ticking clock that can’t move fast enough until the next time I’ve allowed myself to rest.
I’m so exhausted. Tired of all the running and walking and crunching and squatting. Tired of all the counting and scheduling and most of all: the hiding.
I’m so tired of the dark.
I’m so ashamed to write these words, so deeply grieved that a woman who works for a church and has supposedly followed God all her life is blatantly disobeying her Maker with every breath.
And I wonder: why does He even love me all? Isn’t all this upheaval to please Him, anyways? And isn’t it the very last thing that would impress an all-knowing, perfect God?
And I’m scared to stop. And it’s all I know. And I’m utterly frozen with fear at the prospect of sitting still and finding that I am not worthy of love.
I promised I’d be free by age twenty… by twenty-one…. surely before I turned twenty-five.
And I’m still here in my darkness.
But so is God.
So is my Maker and my healer and the one who died on a lethal, blood-dripping tree. He’s still here.
And the only reason He would still be here is if I can’t earn love at all— no matter how many books I read or how toned my abs are or how many hours of the day I devote the bettering my worldly existence. No, He’d only be here if all those efforts–and my respective failures to perfect any of them–weren’t the measure of worth that I’ve deemed them to be.
I’m sitting now. Inside. My legs didn’t want to carry me up the stairs, but they did–just like they’ve done thousands of times before against all odds.
I’m just sitting here. And it’s weird if I tell you (you nebulous, nothingness or, if I get brave, future readers) how profoundly this scares me. But it’s not weird if I tell Him. It’s not weird at all because He already knows the anxiety that courses through my corpse as I shift from sitting to standing, from consciousness to sleep, and to “back to work! You’ve rested too long!”
He knows. And though my mind feels the rawness of this exposure, it doesn’t mind as much as before. It doesn’t tremble.
If I rest and don’t rise, I am still loved. If I don’t do all the doing that I’ve determined needs done, I am still loved. If I read no more books, run no more miles, and eat all the peanut butter I can shove in my mouth, I am still loved.
I am still loved.
Maybe I know that a little better than I did an hour ago. Maybe something is sinking deeper into the cracks of my car. Maybe I don’t have to earn.
Praise God I’m not who I was when I wrote those words. Yet, the struggle they represent still resonates deeply in my heart. Do they strike your core as well? I believe that, at the crux of our fear of vulnerability, is the knowledge that we aren’t good enough. But friend, what if we didn’t have to be?
This is the question I am sitting in—quite uncomfortably if I’m honest. I’m on this journey with you and we are going to keep growing, you and I. We aren’t where we want to be yet, but we aren’t where we were.
You are loved, you matter, and you can be free.