I stand taller and step lighter. miles and laughter come easier. The joy that once eluded me is back. Why? Because I now walk free of what once controlled me. I am no longer in the grips of anorexia.
For six years, this eating disorder paralyzed me with fear, filled me with lies, and held me hostage. Afraid of eating too much and gaining weight, anxiety penetrated any rational thoughts. In its role as a deceiver, anorexia convinced me that if I lost enough weight, I would be satisfied; if I limited my intake, I would be in control of something; and if I gave it up, I would not survive. It appeared impossible to break free of what had become my coping mechanism, albeit it an unhealthy one. The task of loosening the tight grasp this enemy had on my thoughts and feelings seemed insurmountable.
I feared food and gaining weight. Family gatherings and other food-related events produced anxious moments. I was always afraid someone might notice the weight loss and examine what I was eating. However, I usually managed to eat more than usual on those occasions. That was difficult for me, but I always managed it knowing the disorder would be camouflaged.
Guilt and shame were my constant companions and filled my mind with self-condemning thoughts. “Why do I do this to myself? I’m an adult and I’ve even studied eating disorders in the past. How could I let this happen? I’m so ashamed.”
Joy could not find a place in a heart filled with fear, anxiety, guilt, and shame. I felt trapped in a life centered on what I did and did not eat, the number on the scale, and the image in the mirror. Hopelessness set in. Anorexia was slowly destroying me, and I couldn’t imagine breaking free of the tight hold it had on me. Worse yet, there were times I didn’t want to break free. “This is all I have. It’s my only way to cope with the pain inside. I can’t imagine my life without it.” In reality, though, all that anorexia did was intensify the despair I felt.
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In time, I had to face the fact that this disorder was not about food or weight, but it was instead about seeking control as well as the inability and unwillingness to release emotions. The only way to beat it was to let go of the control I desired as well as learn healthy ways to work through the thoughts and feelings that kept me bound to a life of self-destruction. I knew I couldn’t recover on my own, so I prayed, asking God to lead my recovery.
Facing fears was an important part of the process. I saw a dietitian to obtain an individualized meal plan. I began eating more and gained needed weight. Seeing that I could eat normal amounts of food without my weight getting out of control alleviated my fear of getting ‘fat’.
It took countless, tear-filled hours of journaling to grieve, refocus on the future, and work through the issues of identity. This process was accompanied by replacing lies with the truth. I believed I was fat when I was underweight; there was no way to get past anorexia when there certainly was; I would never be happy again although in reality, it was possible; there was no purpose for my existence when indeed there was. I had to recognize these lies as well as many others and combat them with the truth. I wrote verses, inspirational quotes and truthful statements on note cards so I could be prepared to fight off the lies. This simple method proved to be quite effective.
In time, I no longer carried the heavy burden of guilt and shame, my fear of food dissipated, I experienced healing in my heart and was no longer obsessed with body image and the number on the scale. And God helped me in every aspect. Is it any wonder I step lighter and stand taller? My joy has been restored.
About the Author:
Laurie Glass has a Master’s degree in Christian Counseling. Through her website, Freedom from Eating Disorders at http://freedomfromed.com, she offers a recovery course, note cards, e-books, and other practical and inspirational resources. In addition, Laurie has had several articles and poems published and has been quoted in Women’s Health Magazine.
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