What are you afraid of?
Really. I want you to put it into words. Verbalize it.
What keeps you up at night?
During my anorexia and for
some of much of recovery, I was afraid of the weight restoration. I was afraid of certain foods; that “all elusive” weight range; how my body was going to change. I was afraid of not being perfect; I was afraid of failing, being a disappointment, and letting other people down.
Maybe some of those are ringing true for you. Maybe you’re afraid of admitting you have an eating disorder, period? Been there! Perhaps you’re afraid of adding a supplement, or stopping your exercise addiction. Maybe you’re afraid of revealing to your loved ones that you’re struggling. Or maybe you’re afraid of feeling your feelings.
Whatever you’ve verbalized, I’m guessing it sounds a little bit like that.
When you were a little kid, remember how you had that one thing that made you feel safe? Maybe it was your blanket, or a stuffed animal. I was afraid of the dark, and I remember my sibling told me once that my bedsheet was like steel armor and nothing could hurt me underneath it. That was my “safe place.” I would always hide in my safe place whenever I was afraid.
An eating disorder capitalizes on your fears. It uses what scares you to manipulate you into self-destruction.
When you’re afraid of something, what do you do? How do you deal with that fear?
And I’m not just talking about “ED stuff” — I’m talking about anything in life.
You’re afraid of someone breaking into your house: so you get a security system. Or a big scary dog.
You’re afraid of getting mugged on the street: so you take self-defense classes, get a “rape whistle” and buy a thing of mace.
You’re afraid of X: so you do Y.
You enter what is called “Fear Mode,” where you go to your “safe place” and try to control the fear.
That’s the core of your eating disorder. You’re so terrified of the weight, or the food, or allowing yourself to be loved, that you try to control it. You go to your safe place — your ED behaviors. You’ve found that your ED behaviors — whether it be restricting, or purging or over-exercising, self-harm, whatever it is — it makes you feel safe and in control — and that is where you revert to when you’re scared: Because you don’t have to face those fears when you’re actively engaged in your eating disorder.
That’s what your ED behaviors are: they are a way to control the fear. Those destructive behaviors are what you turn to in order to control what terrifies you: They are both your “teddy bear” and your fighting sword.
And I want you to know — I’m not coming from a place of judgement. The Good Lord knows I have quite the “checkered past.”
So I get it. I get why we go there. And yes, we all have gone back to a behavior once or twice in recovery. That’s why it’s called recovery.
But here’s the thing about fear. And yes, I’m going #RealTalk on ya.
Fear is part of life.
We all are afraid of something. And it’s not what scares us, it’s how we respond to it.
We’ve all heard quotes and quips about fear. Gosh, without even consulting Google, I can think of, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” “The only way to overcome fear is to go through it.” Blah blah blah. They begin to lose their meaning, time after time after time.
So here’s a new one.
And it’s from my own life. So, take it as you will.
I’ve accepted that fear will always be a part of life. Even though I’m in recovery, I still have a lot of fears: Will I meet the man I’m supposed to marry? And if I do, will I let him love me and will I accept his love? Will I be successful in my career? Will I ever be able to 100% love myself? Will I be derailed again by an Ulcerative Colitis flare up?
Fear is everywhere.
So here’s my thing:
Fight fear less, and trust God more.
Instead of trying to control everything you’re afraid of — instead of trying to control your fears about weight restoration and a “blooming body,” — trust God more.
You don’t have to be fearless. You don’t have to be super brave and not fear anything anymore. It’s okay to be afraid. Just trust that God has a good plan for you and your life.
Now this might be really hard to conceptualize, and even harder to do. You might be thinking, “Sure, that sounds good…conceptually. But when it comes right down to it – when I see the numbers going up on the scale, when I am faced with an Ensure supplement increase, when I’m bloated, when I have a full plate of food in front of me — trusting God just isn’t going to cut it.”
And I know. I’ve been there. It is hard. They don’t call you a warrior for nothing.
But here’s what I invite you to think about. You don’t have to believe it. You don’t have to accept it. But just hear it. Read it. Don’t dismiss it just because it has to do with “God.”
When we fight our fears – when we try to control them by using ED behaviors, or whatever, we are not actually in control. We may feel like we’re in control. Like, “Oh yeah, well, I left 3 sips of Ensure at the bottom of the bottle.” Or, “I didn’t scrape the tablespoon clean when I was measuring my peanut butter.” No. Those little manipulations are like our “teddy bear” when we’re feeling afraid. They’re a little way for us to fight, and control our fear. But here’s the truth. Here’s the #RealTalk:
God is in control.
And I’m not going to get preachy, so I’m just going to end it with this:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.
One of the things about this quote that I am often guilty of, and maybe you are too, is that when I read this, I think, “Oh awesome! Everything I have planned for myself is going to work out! Everything I have written in my “goal journal” is going to come to fruition! SAH-WEET!”
But that’s actually not the case.
Note: that it does not say, “For I know the plans you have for yourself.”
No. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,”
His plans for us.
We are not in control. We can try and try as we want, but in the end, it is God who is the author of our lives. And if He is allowing us to endure this trial, then there is something we’re supposed to learn from it. And it will be used for good. To prosper us…it says so right there.
And this is the absolute last thing.
When we’re in that moment of fear, facing an increase, or an intense urge to purge, or a full plate of full-calorie pasta, remember:
You are not alone.
Psalm 121:1 He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber.
I invite you to take that little phrase, “He who watches over me will not slumber” and just reflect on it.
Its meaning can get lost in the “bible-talk-ness” of that phrase. Allow me to break it down: A) He is watching over me. B) He is watching over me at all times because He doesn’t sleep. Therefore, C) I am never alone.
You are not alone.
Fear can be paralyzing, if we let it. It can be destructive, if we let it.
But it can only control us if we let it.
Fight fear less, trust God more.