Last year, on this very day, I published a blog post marking the anniversary of meeting my husband. After I hit publish, I drove to Vancouver, WA and entered rehabilitation for anorexia.
The very first paragraph in my first journal entry documenting my rehabilitation I wrote the following:
Today was the big day… going into rehab. I was nervous, but also felt a great sense of peace. I prayed an intense prayer for humility and for God’s will to be done (that my will align with his). After my devotion time, I felt like God had my hand and I was finally letting him lead.
God hasn’t let go of my hand, and I cannot tell about my journey this past year without telling you about God.
The first three months of rehab were the most treacherous because my body had to relearn how to handle food. My metabolism was broken, which meant that many other internal functions and processes were malfunctioning. But I had been sick for so long (13+ years) that my body had settled into a distorted sense of normal within the malfunctions. As I went through the refeeding process, I learned quickly how broken my body had become.
The refeeding process basically feels like eating Thanksgiving dinner multiple times a day for many weeks. I had to eat on a schedule, measuring and portioning my foods so my brain could relearn what normal portions look/feel like. Because my metabolism was essentially turned off, my body didn’t know what to do with all the food. It took about eight weeks of eating regularly before my metabolism turned back on again. It was several more months before my body found its homeostasis, because once my metabolism clicked back to normal function, all the other systems had to adjust (like my hormonal system, which was the biggest and most difficult adjustment for me.)
Physically speaking, I felt like crap while going through refeeding; I had actually felt better in my disorder and often just wanted to go back (even though my disorder nearly killed me). Mentally speaking I felt confused as my brain was fighting eating disorder thoughts/behaviors while also trying to adhere to the new eating habits and truths I was forming. Emotionally, I was a mess–depressed, angry, sad, hopeful, determined, irritated. You name it, I felt it… even at times joy. Why joy? Because while the rest of me was in the trenches of healing, my spiritual health was strong.
My faith in God is literally what has kept me moving forward in this process. If I didn’t have God leading the way, this past year would have been tragic because I’d either be fighting for my life in a hospital or dead.
In the months preceding my rehabilitation I had asked God to take me on a journey to the high places where I could be one with Him; I wanted Him to make me new so I could experience the joy and freedom of this nebulous, curious, unseen thing called “His Kingdom.”
He said to me in response to my request (which I heard whispered to my heart), “I am going to heal you.” Somehow in all the arduousness of refeeding I knew without a doubt that my misery was part of the healing… the cleaning out of the old. Every meal and snack became a sacrifice; the kitchen table was my altar. While I experienced the harshness of the journey, God made himself (His voice and presence) equally evident:
- I’ve had crystal clear revelations of lies I had believed about my value and worth.
- I’ve learned the truth about food.
- I’ve had humbling epiphanies about my own stereotypes regarding “fat” and “skinny” people.
- I’ve become enlightened about the wonder of the human body, which works really hard to take care of us when we’re abusing ourselves.
- I’ve learned about the power of intuition and intuitive eating.
- I’ve been given a children’s book to write.
- I’ve discovered the joy found in the kitchen.
- I’ve experienced “coincidences” that I attribute to God supernaturally pulling up a seat at the table. (Remind me to tell you about the time I had a literal panic attack over spinach salad during meal therapy.)
- I’ve gained understanding that the deeper disease I’m battling is perfectionism.
Friends, my mental faculties could not think or experience these things on their own. Only God could reveal them to me in a way I could understand. Through prayer and seeking, I constantly reach for God’s hand; in return He grabs hold and speaks to me. I know it sounds hooey for those of you who don’t believe in God or who are skeptical, but I promise you it’s true. If you seek Him and are willing to hear Him, you will find Him… standing by your side, right now.
God’s presence in the first three months of rehab proved to me His faithfulness and promise to stick with me through the entire healing process. This last year has been really hard, but I have experienced deep healing because of God. My physical body is 100% recovered. My mental and emotional health are relatively strong; however, I don’t take it for granted because some days are not good.
Anorexia recovery is like having arthritis. I have stretches of time where I’m good… no eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Then for whatever reason (usually there is a reason), I have a flareup where the disease takes hold and I fumble. I have to take special care of myself, consciously making the choice to eat and eat enough; checking in on my intentions to exercise; allowing myself to rest in the trench of pain rather than doing something harmful to escape.
I confess that I’m currently in a flareup. October brought a flood of truth regarding the abuse in my background, which I cannot write about right now. While I feel icky and depressed and my auto-response is to starve, my spiritual intuition knows that God is about to bring me into even deeper healing. So, I pray today the exact same prayer I said one year ago on this day… May the Lord give me humility to endure what’s to come, and may He align my will with His so His will is done.