Here’s what they don’t tell you about eating disorders:
They’re usually pretty innocent at first.
An endeavour to “be healthier.”
When my restrictive illness first developed when I was fifteen, I never would have considered that I might still be terrified of white flour and sugar, baked, frosted goodness with unknown nutritional values when I was of age and stage to be getting married.
But in the depths of my sickness, the worst times of eating nothing but spinach and the occasional piece of broiled, skinless chicken breast, I would have told you there was no way I would ever touch a baked good again.
If you know me today, you know how far I’ve come since those days.
It’s the memories of shivering cold due to lack of nutrition, feeling faint and zombie-like that no longer cause me to crave numbness, but to feel so truly, desperately sad for that lost girl, and anyone else going through the same deception.
It’s the reminder of conversations in which I was barely engaged with the other party, and more engaged with the adding of meaningless numbers – caloric values – in my mind, constantly finding new justifications for not eating that has made me, finally, so pleased to have engaged, meaningful, undivided conversations.
And it’s the knowledge that my engagement to the love of my life is one, fleeting season that involves so many beautiful friends gathered around good food with endless reasons to be thankful that makes me more determined than ever to block out the diet culture, the “Aren’t you gonna diet for your wedding?” questions, and the little voices that sometimes want to convince me to thwart my recovery by eating the delicious, dairy-free cake my mom bought for my bridal shower with a coffee and a beautiful friend.
Doing so pertained to so much more purpose than simply for enjoying a piece of cake for a few minutes.
It’s also about the memory made. Because, truly…
My experience of recovery has been that time has been fundamental in healing the little wounds that have surfaced.
When I experienced transformational healing a few years ago, I thought I was in the clear in terms of mental eating disorder recovery. This has made it easy for me to feel guilty about ever struggling, and potentially more likely to ignore any mental triggers. But slowly, these things have crept in in small amounts… and I am so, inexpressibly happy, and indebted to my God, to say that I am very aware of them, and rarely give in to old behaviours. My God has given me an awareness and conviction of the Truth I want to live by, which does not involve tracking food eaten.
From a tangible standpoint, the longer I have lived this way, free from measuring, counting, and obsessing, the more NORMAL it has become. And, most interestingly and amazingly, the more physical hunger has actually made me WANT and NEED food than been a mental trigger for restriction. The more normalized my understanding of “just eating” has become. The more naturally and simply my hunger cues take over.
It has been a journey– and if there was one time of my life I was afraid triggers might take over, it was that of wedding planning. But, rather than giving into the messages of the world, this season of engagement has been more motivation than ever to completely redeem my relationship with food, passionate about none of the ugly, disordered stuff sneaking into my marriage or home. To heal my physical body fully is truly my desire.
So I had my Bridal Shower Cake, and I really did eat it, too. And it was absolutely stinkin’ delicious.
Thank-you, Lord Jesus, for your Word that I know to be True. Make me more like you, in all things. Amen.