As I mentioned in my last post, in every girl’s recovery, there will come a time known as The Moment. It is the moment when she realizes that her body is actually filling out; and it is in this Moment that she literally becomes paralyzed with fear and freaks out that she is going to get fat.
“Oh, but that’s not my little girl. She’s stronger than that. She’s so committed to recovery, there’s no way she’ll have those thoughts.”
First of all, there is so much wrong with that statement, I don’t even know where to begin, and frankly, I don’t want to veer off onto a tangent….but…just headlines: She needs to not be treated like a “little girl” because part of her disease may be a way to avoid growing up. Secondly, saying that she’s “stronger than that” or “better than that” a) places her value and worth on an accomplishment or achievement, and b) it places an impossible expectation on her (because struggles are real in recovery). Lastly, by you having pride on her “accomplishments,” and arrogantly (sorry!) dismissing the notion of weakness sends her the message that vulnerability is unacceptable. That if she struggles (which she will) or slips up (which she will), that she is an utter disappointment. I know, that is not the message that you are intending to send, but that is how her brain construes that statement. You have to remember, even though she is in recovery, the Voice of ED is still in there – she is just starting to become stronger than it. But statements like that fuel ED and his way of manipulating messages. ED twists it so that it feeds right back into her Lie that she is unworthy, unlovable, a burden, unwanted, etc., which then feeds into her guilt and shame, and now you see, we’re back at square one. Sorry for the total tangent there, but it needed to be said.
Okay. Back to The Moment in her recovery where she feels that she is at her absolute end of the line of weight restoration. That Moment when she freaks out that gaining any more and she will be fat.
So how did I get past my “Capital M” Moment?
I was scared. I was so terrified. I wanted recovery so badly, but I was so petrified of the last 20 pounds. I wrote in my journal:
“I’m still at —-. I have 20 more pounds to go and I am so scared. I really like how my body has changed, and I am just nervous and weary of how it will be at the end of my stay [at inpatient.] And I feel like such a disappointment and that I let everyone down because I’m scared. I feel like a failure.”
So what did I do?
To take a quote from my inpatient journal, “Well, I guess I just am going to have to tighten my jock strap and just f#cking do it.”
No, but seriously, here’s what I did. It was a two-step process. And instead of me trying to paraphrase, I thought I’d let the words come directly from my journal at the time.
First, I poured out all my fears to God. And I wrote down the prayer in my journal. Here it goes:
“Dear Lord, I come before you tonight and Lord, I just want to crawl in your lap because I feel like a vulnerable little child. Lord, please comfort me. I am so scared to gain this weight. Lord, I want to be healed of this so badly, I am just so insecure with myself and I feel like I have to be perfect. Lord, please help me see myself through Your eyes and help me to accept Your love for me and believe it and embrace it. Please give me peace through the Holy Spirit. Calm my heart and mind and please heal me Lord. You are the only way I can get through this. Please give me the strength and perseverance.”
So that was step one. The second part is what will perhaps come a little more easily. I GOT MAD. I let out my wrath on ED and what he had robbed me of.
I mean, not just like, “Jeez, I’ve been on hold with Time Warner for 45 minutes”- mad, but like, enraged-mad. Get so mad that your eyes are blurry with venom and your whole body is shaking in fury. Like, seriously get your heart rate up.
Again, I wrote down my irate episode. (Side note: I don’t know why I was so candid with my journal. Perhaps it was because I was at inpatient with no phone, TV, radio, Internet, or computer. Hmmm)
A little context here: I wrote this at inpatient on what would have been my high school graduation. (I mentioned this in this post about my intervention to get me to inpatient and miss graduation)
“I am angry. Today I felt real anger because ED (who is really Satan) has robbed me of my life. He takes everything I love doing and twists my thinking on it. He manipulated and lied to me and as a result I manipulated and blatantly lied to the people I love and care about. And that F#CKING PISSES ME OFF. Satan used this ED and the things I love as a foothold in my life. The real me does not like manipulating people. Satan has been feeding me lies. He has been feeding me disgusting thoughts and manipulating me. He would torture me by making me have to go to ShopRight and walk past all the food and feel the need to burn calories. He was choosing me as a target because the Lord has blessed me and Satan knows that God could and will use me for His work and he felt threatened by that and so that’s why he picked on me. And he wanted nothing less than to kill me and he almost did. He made me not go to youth group or get close to Luke Rowfronter. I couldn’t look Luke in the eye at the intervention, just like I couldn’t look mom or my therapist in the eye, because Jesus was in their hearts. Satan was controlling me. In the name of Jesus I command Satan out of my life. Get out you f#cking devil. You have manipulated my life for too long. Jesus: fill the dwelling place in my heart that was once occupied by ED and fill it with the Holy Spirit. Satan get out of my life. I BANISH YOU TO THE FIRES OF HELL! Wow. That felt really good. From now on, God will control my life and I WILL NOT BE ED’S PRISONER!”
Re-reading that brings me back to a very interesting place. I can remember exactly where I was. I can remember the ache in my hand after scribbling so furiously in my notebook. I remember trying to catch my breath after writing that, gasping for air like I had just run a race. That anger, that rage: It was freeing. It was refreshing. It was healing.
I made a list of all the things that my anorexia — ED– had robbed me from. ED robbed me of my relationships. Of my determination to chase my dreams. ED robbed me of my happiness. ED robbed me of my senior year. Of my graduation. ED robbed me of my bedtime conversations with my mom. Robbed me of school. Robbed me of my body going through puberty, the ability to have children, the desire for a boyfriend. ED robbed me of family time and family dinners. ED took the attention away from my brother and his wife at their wedding. ED robbed me of my physical appearance: I became skeletal, with osteoporosis as an 18-year-old girl. ED made all my hair fall out. ED ROBBED ME OF LIFE.
The next thing I did the following day, was I took that anger and ran with it. Eating became a way for me to stick up my middle finger and flip ED the “bird.” Every bite I took, I took with a vengeance. It was my way of reclaiming my life, reclaiming what was stolen from me, and taking revenge on ED, or Satan, who tried to take my life away from me. That’s how I pushed through my Moment. I did it through getting so pissed off at ED that I was going to get better just to spite him. And if I’m being totally honest, I would sometimes even utter an “F-Bomb” to ED every now and then when I was facing a seemingly insurmountable snack, or an increase of supplement, and it felt good. It felt good to retaliate against that demon.
Part of the reason why I think the anger felt so good, and that recognizing (in rage) all the things that ED had robbed me from, was that, in doing so, I was remembering all the things about pre-anorexia me. I was remembering the old me – the girl who is in there somewhere, being suffocated by the eating disorder. By realizing all the things ED took away, you take an inventory of all you used to be. “Oh, yeah, that’s right! I was an excellent performer, and I did have the dream of being on Broadway. ED took away that passion in my life.” Or, “I forgot about how my friends and I used to watch the OC every Thursday night and eat popcorn and laugh and have fun. ED made it so I avoided going – or even answering the phone – because I was too wrapped up in my eating disorder.” Or, “Oh yeah. I remember how I used to actually have a passion for dancing, until the day ED made it so the only thing I saw in the mirror was how my body compared to the other dancers.” By listing what ED robbed me of, I had a revelation of who I was before anorexia dictated my life.
Recovery is a long process. And yes, there will still be days where getting angry at ED, and drawing on the strength from Above still isn’t enough to kick the disordered thoughts. And if we’re being really honest, there will be days when she actually misses her eating disorder. Sad, but true. And it’s on those days, where she has to remember the darkness that she was in, and how far she’s come. She rose from the ashes, and has overcome too much to turn back now. It is a day-by-day process. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Day by day. Meal by meal. Bite by bite. Until one day, the load on her shoulders won’t seem quite as heavy, and she’ll look and see she’s on the other side.