Tag Archives: rehabilitation

Why I don’t need anorexia anymore

 

“What’s going on? What are you thinking? I can see something happening in there.” While I have only been with Tamara, my eating disorder therapist, for 10 months, it’s impossible to hide my feelings from her.

I let out a deep sigh, not wanting to share my thoughts. It feels ooky to say out loud what I am thinking. My feelings feel wrong.

“It’s–it’s almost like I want to stay sick. But that can’t be right. Who wants to stay sick … to not get better?” Continue reading

Noticeably Imperfect

The reality of recovery is this: The healthier we get, the more noticeably imperfect we become. This is really uncomfortable for me, and today I find myself sitting in depression because of this truth.

Addiction of any kind, but specifically, for me, anorexia (the addiction to starving my body), serves as a sort of protection against being noticeably reflectingimperfect. I’ve been imperfect my whole life, and unfortunately in my formidable years, was bullied into believing that because of my imperfections I was ugly, invalid, unworthy, and unacceptable. I was outspoken and brave for a little while, which made things worse for me, and by eighth grade I placed myself along the wall where I wouldn’t be noticed as much.

As I entered into my adult years, the bullying ended but the world supported my invalidity and ugliness through cleverly disguised messaging : “Oh it’s okay. Nobody is perfect, but here are 500 billion ways to be perfect.” The world is filled with information, diets, medication, tips, products, and “secrets” that will make me better, to perfect those things that supposedly aren’t so great. So sure, I am not perfect but I am not good enough as I am either.

It’s maddening.

I had coped with the madness by developing an eating disorder and an obsession with perfectionism, hiding my imperfect self behind what I thought was more acceptable according to the way of the world–a super thin perfectly beautiful body, with a quiet and agreeable disposition and orderly lifestyle. This (seemingly) served me well for the last 13 years or so, until I reached a fork in my journey and was faced with two choices: die or recover.

I chose recovery. With recovery comes the revealing and rediscovering of the girl I had hidden away and had mostly forgotten about. As she begins to emerge, I find myself ashamed and uneasy about my imperfections and my voice (the part of me that speaks my place in this world); I am scared to death to let me show and be heard… because remember, I’ve been told my imperfections are ugly, invalid, and unacceptable by a harsh world. But I can’t have recovery and hide at the same time–if I choose recovery then I choose to be noticeably imperfect.

IMG_20150317_090306I’m discovering and learning to accept that I have a normal-sized body with curves (that thrives on food with carbohydrates, sugar, and fats), dry skin, an insatiable sweet-tooth, and a trick stomach that’s easily upset; I have a type-A personality that notices details, anxiously desires order, and doesn’t handle stress well; I am a woman in love with Jesus and hears/obeys his voice on a regular basis (this alone makes me wacky in a worldly sense); I adore the people who sit sheepishly alone on the wall whom the world deems as strange and useless; I have a nasally voice that, when I’m feeling brave, speaks strongly against the tide of popular thinking for the sake of Truth; I’m a mother who doesn’t like volunteering in her kids’ school (there, I said it.); and I’m a writer who constantly trips over the line into verbosity because I have a lot to say about stuff.

When I get scared and feel completely unworthy of boldly taking my place out-of-place in the world, like I feel today, I am tempted to run back into the disorder–to go back to the hidden path I walked so certainly for the last 13 years. But it leads to death. I can’t go back to that. I don’t want to go back to that. But I don’t want to be noticeably imperfect either because it makes me vulnerable.

So I sit down in the middle of the road, depressed, and cry.

It’s then that I am comforted by my (seemingly wacky) friend, Jesus, who says:

Remember that it’s the world that tells you your imperfectness–your unique humanness as Leanne–is not good enough.  But, My grace is sufficient for you for my power is perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) I know the plans I have for you… plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).  He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6), [so] do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

 

Bigger than me

There is no such thing as fat.

Or skinny.

These are terms brought to us by a world infected with faulty thinking that body size, large or small, has bearing on our personal value. Simply speaking, “thin” means beautiful–if one is beautiful then one is marketable, reliable, noticeable–valid for beauty and business. (I have noticed, however, that no one can seem to agree on what “acceptably thin” is.)

On the contrary, if one lives in a larger body, then one is “fat,” which means one is not valid for beauty and business. Fat has become a negative term associated with unacceptable, inappropriate, shameful, unhealthy, ugly and unworthy. Generally speaking, of course, we don’t use these terms to people’s faces because that would Scale Without Feet OMGbe hurtful and rude. The message comes across clearly and deeply enough through the 965 diets everyone should be on, national headlines that tout 965 ways to look slimmer, lists of foods that will help you lose belly fat, and my personal favorite, articles that teach you how to become an exercise addict.

No you look totally fine just as you are–but you should try the slim green diet where you only eat green stuff and only at the times of day that start with “s.” And wear this new organic miracle spandex to squish in your belly, and replace your desk chair with an exercise ball so you can lose that pooch and not have to wear the spandex (it’s better to be natural). Then you can concentrate your efforts on increasing your hate for the gym by going 12 times a week, 6 of those being core-training classes so you can turn your slimmed tummy into a 6-pack. Because then you will able to wear a bikini and you will look sexy and not gross to all the beach combers who will definitely be looking at you and judging you.

If you want. I mean you’re totally fine now, but if you want to be better, which you should so you aren’t seen as lazy, then do those things. 

I digress.

I have fallen ill by playing into society’s definition of fat and expectations of thin and the skin-surface value placed upon what this world thinks of me at either size.

I have anorexia. I have lived with this disease for at least 13 years, maybe longer. On November 3, 2014 I went into “official” rehabilitation for anorexia and learned just how big and ingrained this disease has become in my brain and my life. It had become so much bigger than me… an addiction grown so out of control that it looked completely “normal.” I didn’t know how sick I was. The disease had become a lifestyle, and not just for me but also for my husband and children. This disease has infected every area of my life to the point where I can’t even recognize when the eating disorder is leading my thoughts, behaviors and decisions.

Fig Newton Balls!

Fig Newton Balls!

Today marks 64 days in rehab. I have gained healthy weight (I didn’t even have to put on my belt today–which will be a topic of discussion in therapy tomorrow); my metabolism has healed to the point that it tells me when I am hungry for real; I am eating regularly with little to no thought; I am experimenting with food in my kitchen; and I went out to breakfast yesterday with no sign of a panic attack. All great news!

But I still have anorexia.

Because anorexia is not about food.

December6On December 6th, God healed my fear of “fat,” opening my eyes to the truth that the world places value on “fat” and “thin.” God places value, however, on the condition of the heart–and these of which terms I have worked 13 years to adhere and over which I nearly killed myself, don’t even exist in His kingdom. They aren’t in His dictionary. At all.

Not only had I become physically ill over faulty worldly beliefs, but I confess my heart had become infected with personal judgement toward people (including my own family) in larger bodies, generally believing they lived unhappy and unfulfilling lives. It was a horrid and humbling moment to have this truth revealed to me–it made me sick to my stomach. I fell to my knees in repentance. I even called my parents to confess and apologize.

But God revealed it so he could heal it, because following the ugly truth came a most joyous and healing truth:

My physical body matters merely to carry out discipleship of/for Jesus, to live in a way that brings holy Love to this physical world that has become very brokenhearted–to share the good news about a Kingdom of Love led by the most adoring Father. As long as I am able to do this well (whatever “well” means between me and Jesus), then the size of my body had no bearing or matter on anything. 

The core of my disease–the heart of my dis-ease has been healed.

But I still have anorexia.

BiggerthanmeBecause anorexia is a disease of the mind. My heart is healed, but my brain is still very much broken. This was proven by my therapy appointment last Friday wherein I was SO excited about a new pizza recipe I am going to try, and after relaying my excitement and thoughts, my (amazing) therapist pointed out where the idea was tainted with disorder–controlling and fretting about what to put on it and how to prepare it so I wouldn’t get sick (because I also still have celiac disease which gives me another kind of fear of food-yeah, I’m kind of an mess. 🙂 )

Anorexia is a BIG disease… bigger than I could have ever handled on my own, (which I obviously couldn’t seeing as they nearly hospitalized me). I am making progress by leaps and bounds with the help of a God who is bigger than both me and my disease. With over 13 years of well-worn pathways in my brain and only eight weeks of rehab under my belt, I have a long way to go, but just as night fades into daylight, I see anorexia beginning to slowly fade, leaving me to live in the dawn of a heavenly new life.