My Eating Disorder Recovery
I lived my entire teenage and young adult life with an eating disorder. Everyday for 9 years I obsessed over my body and what went in it. I counted calories, chugged water when I was hungry, over-exercised and finally resorted to binging and throwing up. I had this image of what I thought beautiful looked like and it didn’t involve any excess fat on my body. Those were hard times... those were lonely times... If anyone reading this has been addicted to something you know how crippling it can be and how it truly consumes you. It took getting pregnant for me to stop throwing up my food. My maternal instincts overpowered my addiction... at least the extreme part of it.
That was until my 25th week appointment when my doctor expressed concern that my 15 pound weight gain was too much. I burst into tears explaining to her my struggle with food. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes... the look of regret. She knew instantly that she should have never said anything.
Immediately after leaving her office I downloaded a calorie counting app; I worked out harder, made myself go to bed hungry, and watched every bite that went into my mouth. When I stepped on the scale at my next appointment I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment: I was two pounds lighter. My doctor suggested I delete the app and begged me to eat whenever I felt hungry.
I somewhat listened; the clench of the fist that was my addiction was a powerful one. One far beyond my control to stop. I lived for people's comments about how tiny I was, how I was “all” baby, people thinking I wasn’t as far along as I was... these things made my heart sing. For as long as I can remember I have always had a strong need to please people.
As an adult I understand now where this came from, but for so many years I lived in this bottomless pit constantly trying to escape but never knowing how. I felt as if being "skinny" allowed me to be worthy, it allowed me to be seen, and it allowed me to be excepted. Being skinny was my way of making others feel envious of me, I was something that so many people wanted to be. The only problem was that it was a terrible lie, all smoke and mirrors.
My rock bottom would present itself at a dentist office.
I went in because I suspected I had a cavity and wanted to get it taken care of before my baby came. So when the dentist shared with me that I not only had one very bad cavity but fourteen of them, I almost fell off her chair. The self-realization that I had actually caused this... that I had gone so far as to make this façade a reality that I ruined almost every tooth in my mouth.
Talk about self sabotage. With every needle, every drill, every stupid time had to go back into that dentist office I had to relive the pain of my choices.
It was and still is a hard pill to swallow. In a way it was necessary; I guess you could say I needed it in order to stop. The regret of the whole thing is just a painful one. My eating disorder stopped the day of my dentist appointment, although I can't say it's gone. Like any form of addiction, "once an addict, always an addict."
I can say I've healed, learned, and found value in myself. So the power of my disorder is no longer powerful, its rather weak, pretty much non-existent. I still feel a sting every once in a while when something doesn't fit, or I look at pictures and notice how different my body looks. Sometimes the human in me misses those comments.
You know what I don't miss? The broken girl, the lie and the constant battle to be something I wasn't.
It was a conscious choice to stop; a daily one. Everyday I said I choose not to believe the lie and I choose to be healthy. I needed to replace my addiction with something positive so I fell in love with health. I took the energy that was robbed of my daily life and placed it into things that gave me life, that made me better.
I focused on what was important to me, what made my soul sing. I allowed myself to become a child of God, I allowed myself to feel the abundant love of my heavenly father. His grace, his constant goodness and his truth. I am a child of the king and it was time I started to live in the light of that.
I gave birth to my second little boy 9 months ago. I gained 50 something pounds of pure nutrition and I have 20 of those pounds still lingering on my body. I can honestly say I'm ok with that. I will never weigh my pre-pregnancy weight again and that's alright. I am healthy, I am happy, and I am free.
I'm sharing this with you today because I know how many of us struggle with not feeling worthy, or living up to expectations that are not attainable. I understand the overwhelming need to please others. So I encourage you to instead become a God pleaser, become courageous in your skin. It's not easy and it will take lots of intentional work, but you are worth it. The example you will show will be worth it and the woman you see in the mirror will be very thankful.