Life After an Eating Disorder

Two years.

730 days.

Countless Prayers.

More tears than I would like to admit.

More dreams awakened than I knew possible.

I’ve come a long way in two years.  If you had told me two years ago that I would be recovered from bulimia, I wouldn’t have believed you.  I would want to… oh how I would have wanted so badly to believe that I could be free from this monster that had stolen everything from me.  But I wouldn’t.

But isn’t that the beauty of who Jesus is…we don’t always have to believe.  God’s redemptive power isn’t dependent on our believing.  Thank goodness for that.

Someone recently asked me what it feels like to be two years into recovery.  The first year was this high of overcoming obstacles and I felt as though I was sprinting this ridiculously exciting and crazy whirlwind of a race.  Every day felt like a victory to be celebrated.  It was beautiful and thrilling.

Going into year two was a bit different. I had already known I was free from the bulimia, but now I had to learn how to live again.  I had to learn who I was apart from the eating disorder.  I would be lying if I said it was easy, because it was not.  I still had hard moments where I latched onto the belief that the way I look is directly related to who I am and who I am called to be.  I had to begin weeding through my life and removing the things and the people who depended on my insecurity to make them feel secure.

It sometimes felt like I was learning how to walk again.  The first year was about experiencing a new sense of freedom that I never knew existed and now I had to learn how to sustain it.

I am so thankful for the patience of God.

I often times will go back to this blog post I wrote a little over two years ago on a bulimia recovery website to remind myself go how far I have come.  It brings me to tears as I remember so clearly the moment in which I had written these words with tears streaming down my face.  I remember feeling I had lost all hope but thinking that maybe…maybe I could still have a chance at life.  Maybe this wasn’t the end.

 June 1, 2012

It’s been 10 years. 10 years ago I was an insecure 16 year old who was lost in this new world of bulimia.

I wish I could go back and tell that little, precious 16 year old girl that she was okay…that she didn’t need laxatives or to throw up to get rid of the food. That she didn’t need a diet, a gym buddy, or just motivation. I wish I could go back and tell her that there is no shame in enjoying food. I wish I could tell her where she would find herself in 10 years if she didn’t say no.

You see, I never thought I would end up here. I thought that once I lost weight then I would be able to not obsess over food. But no matter my weight, size, or appearance…it’s always there. It’s always lingering, taunting me like “You can look away but I’ll always be here.”

Sometimes I make it through the entire day eating healthy and I feel like I’ve conquered the world! Then I crave something sweet. Okay, just one cookie is ok. I deserve it. It won’t hurt. This is recovery. Then one cookie leads to two. Two leads to three. Three leads to all the cookies. Then ice cream. Then left over pasta. Then peanut butter and jelly. Then granola bars. Then panic. That’s when I walk in the bathroom, lock the door behind me, turn on the faucet, and then stare in the toilet. Sometimes I look at my reflection and pray that I’ll see Jesus’ face. Jesus, please…just show me your face and I’ll be free forever. I stare hard trying to make my eyes see something that doesn’t ever appear. Stalling. I don’t want to throw up. But I have to. So it starts. My eyes water, my stomach constricts and I begin my routine. I try to measure with my eyes how much I throw up and try to match the things coming up with what I ate. I throw up until it’s all gone or until I can’t throw up anymore. At this point, I cry out to God and repent. But most times, I repeat the process within a few minutes. I can’t control myself. Something else controls me. When I look in the mirror, I look tired. Even in pictures I feel like I don’t look like myself. When I smile in pictures, I look to see that it’s only a slight grin. I’m afraid that I have lost my looks.

I’m 26. I want to get married someday. I want to have children. I want to record my music and reach out to people. I want to go to lunch with my friends and meet for coffee without thinking of anything other than the people I am with. I want to be able to look my parents in the eyes and have a normal conversation with them. I want to be able to be around them without feeling ashamed and angry. I want freedom. I want to walk in the promises and the destiny that Jesus has laid out for me.

Satan laughs every time I fall into his destiny and his dreams for me. But I plan to turn the tables. I plan on being free.

I wish I could go back to the girl who wrote that and tell her of all the exciting and beautiful moments that she was about to encounter.  I would tell her that no one is out of the reach of God.  That not one of her tears has gone unnoticed or unseen.  I would tell her that life was just about to unfold.

I remember pleading with God to heal me and promising if He healed me, I would give my life to seeing other girls get set free.  I can’t help but speak about the reality of freedom because I once was among the ones who believed that it couldn’t possibly exist on this side of Heaven.

But freedom exists…It so beautifully exists and I am honored to be proof of that.

 Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”  Neil Gaiman

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