This eating disorder is stealing my life away.
Another day comes that I cannot get out of bed. Another day goes when I am too sick to go to work. I lie alone in my house frail and exhausted, in agony. I cancel lunch with friends. I miss a dinner date. I sleep for twelve hours at a time. I am too weak to do anything else. This is life slowly ebbing away. ED has won the day, today.
…all other ground is sinking sand
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny
My 24 hours of madness spiraled into ten days instead. Who could have seen that coming?
For ten days I didn’t go to the gym, binged endlessly, purged unceasingly and drank too much. Why? There are many reasons: stress, anxiety, a third-life crisis, ballet, relationships, weight gain, pain… At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I did it because it is what I do. I tell myself I am ‘in a funk’, ‘depressed’ or my favourite, ‘relapsing’ because it covers all manner of sins. My existence has become a joke.
“I want to know how you eat six plates of pasta and stay so thin,” my roommate says half jokingly, half seriously. She is a nurse. She knows my ‘history’ of ED. I have been wondering how long it will take her to figure out that my ‘bubble baths’ are a euphemism for puking sessions.
“I am not sharing my dirty secrets with you,” I laugh and hope she gets the hint.
Later that night we share a bottle of wine while a bad Jennifer Aniston movie plays on Netflix in the background. She brings up eating disorders again and now she is referencing herself.
“You need to admit to the eating disorder you have, but don’t acknowledge,” I insist.
She has talked about how she doesn’t starve or purge but how she does restrict on purpose or binge from time to time, eats in secret and over-exercises. I educate her on Orthorexia, EDNOS, Binge Eating Disorder, Night Eating Syndrome and Compulsive Exercise. Her eyes get wider.
“I don’t think you can ever really recover from an eating disorder,” she muses. “What do you think?”
“I think God can heal you, but that doesn’t mean he will. How many people do you know who have prayed for healing from cancer and never got it? Some people just get sicker and sicker and die no matter what they do.” I respond. “But I do believe you can be totally free even though I never used to believe it. I just don’t know that it will be me.”
This week she is on the cabbage-soup-and-run-excessively diet. I am on the eat-everything-I-can-see-and-barf diet.
“We should be studied,” I declare as we eat our Dairy Queen Blizzards and sip wine together.
She laughs. I laugh. Tomorrow is another day.
1 O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you. 2 May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. 3 For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. 4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. 5 I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. 6 You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. 7 Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. “Selah” 8 You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; 9 my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, O LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. 10 Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? “Selah” 11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction ? 12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? 13 But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 Why, O LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? 15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. 17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. 18 You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.
I have decided to quit my twelve step program. I joined Freedom Sessions (a Christian based 12 step program), in September 2013. At first I had a lot of (misplaced) hope. Like any other time I have tried to “recover”, I was full of enthusiasm and faith. Four months later, I have had no break throughs, miracles or epiphanies. My faith has worn thin and is fading fast unlike my lard arse which has continued to grow immeasurably as I have (somewhat) tried to give up ED.
The idea behind Freedom Sessions is not just recovery, but healing from the pain that causes you to use your drug of choice. Apparently Step 4 (the inventories) is the worst time to quit. We are supposed to get sponsors now and should be seeing results but, I have seen nothing except the inside of a toilet bowl as I heave up yet another meal.
I feel bad for making this decision but I have come to realize that God does not owe me anything. He certainly doesn’t owe me healing or the strength to keep going when I am at my lowest. He doesn’t owe me freedom from ED or the miracle of recovery that I have begged for. He doesn’t owe me thinness or sanity or both. And because I do not like being insane, I will stop repeating the same behaviour (going to Freedom Sessions) and expecting a different result (freedom). On the other hand, starving and purging will give me a result (of a kind), and for now, that is better than nothing.
Apparently today is one year since I started “Fat Ballerina”. Today I am not sick but I am also not recovered. I vaciIlate between these two states of being, adrift on a sea of ED. Lately I have tried harder than ever to surrender ED, to give it up and to let go. I am using my faith to keep me strong when I feel incredibly weak. I am going to trust God that in the end, after 20 years of suffering, I can walk away from this by His grace.
I am going to honour today with a list of what I ate. I have been ravenous lately. No matter how much I eat, I cannot be full. I am trying to eat more protein (sometimes non-vegan) and fill myself up with good things rather than binges. I find the food I ate today to be too much in content and volume. Here is the list (and yes, it scares me):
I taught ballet all day. I went to hot yoga. I am about to go for a long trek in the hills and tomorrow I am starting an 8 week training program to run 5kms.
I feel too heavy, too fat and I wish I could just stop being hungry. It is distressing to me how I am so hungry all the time. I want to be thin, but today I don’t want to be sick in order to be thin. I have no answers but my heart is happy and I am at peace. For today, that is all that matters. It is enough.
I kneel at the altar of Ana. I pray to Mother Mia. I bow before the porcelain throne and worship ED with tears of devotion. I fast into starvation; I fight this holy war; I crusade for skinny and exorcise my demons with praises of puking. I am a fanatic, a devotee, a follower and a true disciple of this god.
“Our father who art ED,
Hallowed be thy name;
thy thinness come;
thy will be done,
In the gym as it is in heaven;
Do NOT give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us with purging,
As we forgive them that try to feed us.
And lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from cupcakes.
For thine is the starvation, the torture and the hell
We inflict upon ourselves,
Forever and ever, Amen.”
*****Disclaimer: This is not intended to offend anyone. I am a Christian. I believe in God. I go to church every Sunday. I pray for him to deliver us from ED every single day.