Warning: This post is a bit different, a bit darker than the norm. But after having saved this draft for over a year, I think it’s time to share.
I do not know and will never claim to know everything about eating disorders. All I know are my own set of experiences and feelings.
I know what it feels like to stare in disbelief across the kitchen counter. To see so many open jars, empty wrappers, used utensils. Crumbs everywhere. What just happened? It feels like waking up from a dream, only it’s real and it’s actually a nightmare. The sharp, intense, familiar pain in my stomach emerges through my food haze. I don’t know how much I’ve eaten. I don’t want to know. I double over. I feel sick. I feel guilt. So much guilt. So much anger.
I know what it feels like to kneel, hugging the toilet seat, and cry. Cry for what I’ve just done. Silently hoping and praying that flushing will simultaneously erase this incident, and the last incident, and the time before that. It doesn’t. I should feel better for reversing what I just ate, right? I don’t. I cry harder. But I must stop, I must be quiet, the bathroom exhaust only drowns out so much sound. I must rejoin my family celebrating my birthday, or my friends back at the restaurant table before they start to wonder where I am. They cannot know. I dry my eyes, blow my nose, look in the mirror. I hate what I see.
I know what it feels like to be a girl obsessed. No, not with a man or a job, but with food. To count, and count, and count. To see every food item as a number. The number of calories it has, the number in which it ranks on the scale between good and bad foods, the number my total calories consumed would increase to if I would consume said item. When I don’t know, I open my phone calculator and do some quick math. After every meal. I smile, I actually feel joy, when the total at the end of the day is a 3 digit number. I pretend not to notice my physical exhaustion, dizziness, spaced-out mind at work.
I know what it feels like to promise myself tomorrow. To promise myself the future. I know what it feels like to finally open up to family and a few close friends about the truth. To see their disbelief, their tears, and most importantly, their shared feelings, if any. So many of us suffer from an unhealthy relationship with food. And beyond that, we are all struggling with something, someTHINGS really. I am not alone. I’ve always known that. What I didn’t know is that I would suffer from this. I also didn’t ever think I’d be where I am today. Not cured, not completely healthy, but better. There are slip-ups, but they are fewer. I smile just typing that.
I smile when I think of how thankful I am for self-confidence boosts, encouraging words, and big hugs at just the right time (whether they knew or not) from people I am so so so lucky to live life with. I smile when I think of songs that have saved me, and difficult prayers that I’ve finally had the courage to speak. I smile when I reflect on the times my thoughts were not consumed with food, but instead with the moment at hand. I smile when I think of the times I’ve been driving to a restaurant, or family party, and I’m not scared of my diet. I smile when I know now that this does not define me, but it is merely a part of my story. My hope is that if you’re reading this that you can smile today thinking about small victories on your own journey – whether it’s been similar to mine or not at all.
Publish. Don’t publish. Publish. Listen to MercyMe. Close eyes. Breathe. Smile.