First Day!

The last couple of days have been rough and emotional for me. Today was very rough emotionally and I broke down crying but I really needed to. This eating disorder treatment thing is really hard, it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done. Even though today was a really rough day as I fought with myself all day, this was the first day since I can remember that I have 1) not binged, 2) not purged or 3) made healthy choices. I should be excited about this but inside I am worn out and extremely emotional and very unsure of myself and so it is hard to be excited.

I feel so empty and so alone. I want to celebrate my accomplishment but I tell myself that it isn’t something I’ll be able to repeat, and I tell myself that I am stupid for struggling with food like this in the first place. I mean, it’s just food, how stupid is it to struggle with something so simple? I am ugly and I know it. I’m on the verge of crying and I don’t even know why. Shouldn’t I be happy that I accomplished this? My body aches all over from a big week at work. I am trying to stay on top of my school work.

I should be happy, and yet I worked so hard to accomplish this that I am completely worn out.

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Tough Weeds

This year I’m trying my hand at a little gardening, and a few weeks ago I poisoned the weeds to try to kill them, and nothing happened. So I poisoned the weeds again, and this time they started dying. Today I bought the cheapest weed eater I could find, fired it up, and chopped up those weeds. Then I got a shovel and dug up the roots in the soil and pulled them all out. There are still things left to do, like prepare the soil properly, and plant the seeds. The seeds will hopefully sprout, grow, and produce food. However, the process of growing involves a lot of preparation.

The process of growing is messy, it sometimes hurts, and it can take a while. Sometimes there is a lot of dying and uprooting that needs to happen before any growth can ever take place. And sometimes, it’s a little easier. I have some sage plants in a pot, and all I had to do for those is put dirt in a pot and plant the plants. Sometimes the soil is already fertile and the plant has already been started, and the process of growth is a little easier.

Once the plants are planted and growing, there are still weeds that grow and need pulling out by the roots, and the plants need watering. Sometimes they get a lot of water all at once when it rains, and sometimes they get a little water from the hose or watering can.

Working through eating disorders is a lot like my gardening. Before any growth can really take place, there are lots of counselling sessions, lots of uprooting weeds of lies and negative thoughts, lots of hard work, lots of cutting up of wrong ideas or nasty words and actions of others to forgive. There is digging, lots and lots of digging, there is lots of uprooting. After that, there will need to be a foundation of fertile soil before any real growth will take place. In my yard, the weeds were so hard to get rid of because they had been growing for a long time. My personal weeds have been growing for an awful long time too, so I am not going to experience growth overnight. Sometimes that frustrates me and it seems like I’m not getting anywhere, but going through the process that I am in the yard has also been frustrating and has seemed like I’m not getting anywhere. Slowly but surely, however, things have been happening, and each thing needs to be done in order and each things takes time. It’s just the way it is.

Why I Share my Struggle with Eating Disorders

Some people want me to keep quiet about my eating disorders, telling me that it’s best that people not know, that things like this are personal. Having eating disorders, particularly for as long as I have had them, is very embarrassing. It seems like food issues should be so simple to overcome, after all, it’s just food. To realize that eating disorders have dominated my life is a big deal. So why not hide my struggle?

I don’t hide it, because I strive to be brutally honest. So far I haven’t had one person who has been mean about my issues with food, and I’ve had support from unexpected places. One night I was at the church and the youth pastor offered me a big bowl of candy. I took them but then had second thoughts, although I was having trouble saying no. So I told him about my struggle and he pressured me to give them back, which I did. That was very helpful to me, and he was very encouraging telling me that I should be happy about that decision and that I should be proud of it and tell my therapist.

I find that if people know what I’m struggling with, they pray for me, they keep me accountable (by asking me if I really should eat three donuts), but most of all, people support me. I need the support of my friends and family to get through this, because honestly, it sucks and it’s tough. Some days are really rough and some are ok, and some are good. Something I’ve had for seventeen years isn’t going to go away quickly. The rough days are made better when people show their support. Sometimes I can’t see the way clearly and I need to depend on others who can see it.

Which is why I choose to be honest about my struggles with eating disorders. If I had cancer I would need the support of family and friends, and this is the same kind of thing.

Getting to Know Myself

Today my therapist said that I knew a lot of things that I hated about myself, but she wanted me to tell her what I liked about myself, and I couldn’t answer the question. She said that it is important that I come to like some things about myself, and that it’s important to gain my own identity rather than just being the person that I am told by someone else to be. As a Christian I know that my identity is in Christ, but I also know that Jesus made us all unique individuals with individual talents and purposes.

I often feel like people don’t like me and if they are nice to me I obsess about it and wonder if they are just humoring me, I even do this with people that I consider to be my friends. I worry about it so much in part because I’m not sure I like myself and I’m not sure I’d be friends with myself. Every day I look in the mirror and I believe that I see an ugly person, a stupid person, a horrible person. I try to pretend that I have self-confidence but the truth is that I don’t have any.

I worry that if I ever get skinny, I’ll still never be beautiful. To me it seems that only beautiful women are successful and so if I’m never beautiful I won’t be successful. I know that the Bible says that I am precious to God but actually believing that is tough. I wish I could trust God with my identity, that I am who he says I am, and I told him that today while I was on the treadmill. I’ve found that my best prayer time comes when I am on the treadmill. I often talk to God in the same way I talk to my therapists, he is after all the Great Physician. So, treadmill time is God and I time, where I talk to him, and try to listen to him.

Therapy is hard work and one day I hope that I can believe I am valuable. I want to know who I am, I want to get to know myself.

Results of Lent

As anyone who has been following me for any length of time knows, I started Lent with two specific goals that I made public, as well as several others that I kept private. I had planned on blogging every day of Lent but as I started posting I figured it would all be boring to most people anyway and so I didn’t. However, the main thing for me was to spend extra time focusing on God and my relationship with him, which is important because right now I’m so busy I can hardly see straight. I’m taking four college courses, I graduate from my first degree in July, I work 30 hours a week at an awesome job that for the most part I love. I’m going to therapy for my eating disorders, I’m doing some yard work and planting, and I’m working out. Something has to give, and a lot of times it’s my time with God that ends up being cut out. 

So spending extra, focused time was good for me. My two major goals were 1) to give up cussing, which I haven’t been perfect at but after almost 40 days, I cuss much less than I used to, and I go some days or even a few days in a row without cursing at all! For me that’s huge. My other goal was to not consume any caffeine, which I managed to do and hopefully I will remain caffeine free because caffeine is an issue for me. What I wasn’t planning on was for God to totally shake me up the way he did, although I’m glad that he did. There was a song that the band sang at church several weeks ago that I had never heard before but that really spoke to me and I have played it over and over since then. It’s a song called “Lay Me Down” and it’s a really rockin’ song. But singing the words “I lay me down I’m not my own, I belong to you alone…” was amazing. I find that when I sing things, or recite things, that it’s a declaration, and when I make such declarations, God takes them seriously. 
So between my extra focus on God for Lent, and taking the time to actually listen to him, and the song “Lay Me Down” really speaking to me, God told me I needed to get help for my eating disorders. Starting to deal with them has been very scary for me but I know that God is the great physician and that he heals. So on resurrection Sunday, I certainly will be different from what I was at the beginning of Lent. It is because of Jesus and his resurrection that I can be healed from my eating disorders and I am trusting him for that healing (well, today, anyway, today has been a pretty good day).

First Day

So today was my first day of treatment/therapy/whatever for my eating disorders. It ended up being ok but getting to know a new doctor is always rough for me, even though she seemed really nice. I feel really vulnerable talking about my life with someone I haven’t built a relationship with yet. But there wasn’t any alarm bells going off in my head about the doctor, and I think we will get along fine. Talking about the doctor, she wants me to do one thing that I was very afraid of. She wants me to keep a food journal. I was afraid she’d want me to do that, and actually I have no clue why it scares me so much but it does.

I have to say thank-you to all the people who have been supporting me, I really appreciate it and I need your support in getting well. Although I don’t know some of you very well yet, you’re all the support I have. It’s interesting really, I feel more aware of the presence of God by trying to get better. I feel like he is happy that I want to get well, he wants to make me whole, as someone who doesn’t struggle with food. Thank-you to all of you who have told me truth about myself that I have been unable to believe. I need you to keep telling me, I need lots of truth right now.

I’ve faced some pretty tough things in the past few years. First I gave everything away and packed my whole 21 first years of my life into two suitcases and moved to the other side of the world to marry a man I had known for 7 months. Then I left fundamentalism and at the time it felt like I had lost everything but in the end I gained so much. This feels tougher than any of that, this deals with something that I’ve been struggling with for seventeen years. But then again, Jesus healed the woman who had the issue of blood all those years. He wants to heal me, I know he does, and that is exciting but I’m scared about the process.

I am going to try to ,make the effort every day to wear nice clothes and makeup because those are things that make me feel good about myself. I’m going to keep persevering in my quest to eat healthy and work out.  Today was an important day, it was a step towards healing.

Ugh…More About Food…

Every single day, food is a struggle for me. I managed to keep what I was doing a secret for so long. But just last week, I reached out for help to end a sixteen year struggle. I confessed to my doctor some of the struggles I was having. I love my doctor, she’s a blessing, and she has worked with me, prayed with me, told me that she’s sorry I can’t see how beautiful I am. I’ve never believed myself to be beautiful, and I pick at all the faults that I see on my body. People try to remind me that the Bible says I was fearfully and wonderfully made, but it’s just so hard to believe. I keep thinking that if I can fix one certain thing, such as my belly weight, that I’ll be happy with my body. But I know it’s not true because it never has been true. There are so many things that make me feel ugly, and then I think that I will always be ugly. I’m embarrassed that I’m 28 years old and yet I struggle so badly with food. Then when I am embarrassed I tell myself that I am stupid because of my lack of self-control.

I joined a gym again, I’m not sure if it’s healthy at this point in time but I do want to do something about eradicating belly weight, and just keeping fit. I really like how I feel when I’ve been working out. These past two weeks I’d been wearing scrubs pants and tops to work because I felt like they hide how fat I am, but today I decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore. Not sure if that will be a lasting decision or if I will change my mind tomorrow, that’s how fickle I am. Sometimes I feel a little stronger than other times, and the stronger times I will wear things because I like them, and in the weaker times I’ll wear whatever baggy clothes I own in order to hide my body.

I really feel that God wants me to get through this, and I know in theory that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but this seems like such a hard thing. But then I remember that he has brought me through so many other hard things, and then I hope that maybe he can bring me through this, too. I feel like God is exposing my secrets to the light, and that is uncomfortable but being a Christian is about getting out of what is comfortable and actually doing something that’s meaningful.  

My Journey: The Food Edition

Sometimes I know something, but I don’t really know it. I’m a sociology student, which means I know all about how society constructs gender and how we embody certain philosophies and ideas. I have the scientific knowledge I need to research and explore topics such as why women feel the need to have slim bodies and conform to particular ideals. I know what the Bible says, too, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know that God loves me the way that I am. I have studied basic psychology and know about eating disorders, what the symptoms are, how they affect people.

And yet, I’ve struggled with eating disorders for most of my life. I have gone from anorexia, to bulimia and sometimes have gone between the two. It makes me feel really stupid, to know all the things that I do and yet to struggle the way I do. Food and I have had a controversial relationship for sixteen years. I’m sure food and I will continue to have a controversial relationship.

I thought that I could get through this if I could simply learn some self-control. I have some great friends who share truth with me about how God sees me, and yet I loathe myself and pick on every imperfection, over and over, not being able to realize that God doesn’t see them as imperfections, because it’s how he chose to make me. I forget that I’m an authentic, handcrafted creation. Over and over I try to force myself to believe the truth of who I am, and I have made some progress with that.

But it’s not that simple. It’s been a sixteen year battle and finally I have gone to get help. I’m going to be getting specialized counselling and getting the help that I need. I want to get through this. I know that some people document journeys through cancer and other diseases, I’m hoping to document my way through this, and I’m trusting God for healing (well, sometimes).

I’ve been pretty good at hiding my issues until now. I have started altering my wardrobe choices in order to hide as much fat as possible. I’ve been trying different things with my hair and style, never fully liking anything, going from one thing to the next. I want freedom, the freedom to be who he made me to be. I feel kind of stupid because I feel like I should have “gotten over it” when I was a teenager. I’m embarrassed that I’m 28 years old, and yet I still have these issues.

Interestingly enough, this issue has come to a head during Lent, while I have been focusing more closely on my relationship with God. I know God wants me to find freedom, and I think that’s one of the lessons he’s teaching me through the ritual of Lent. I’m really scared and I’m afraid of accountability because quite frankly, analyzing my eating choices that much just isn’t appealing to me, and yet I realize that that I analyse my food choices all the time, it’s why I do what I do. I just don’t want to be accountable for them.

The Bible says that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I’m trying to believe, and I’m trying to get well.