Recovery. Sometimes recovery is a garden bed full of fresh, colorful flowers on a warm spring day. Sometimes it’s a tree bending and cracking under the heavy rain from the season’s strongest storm. Sometimes it’s both of these things wrapped up in the same day- even the same hour. It’s a crazy, wonderful, messy, fragile, but still somehow beautiful piece of me. But at the moment, it feels more like I’m the tree trying not to snap in the middle of the storm. I’m digging my roots into the soil as hard as I can trying to stay strong. But every time I start to feel like the colorful garden bed again, the winds of Ed’s storm start to roar and the raindrops of his destruction start to fall around me and flood my mind. He tells me food is the enemy. He tells me I’m worthless when I eat. He tells me my weight needs to be an ideal perfect number. He gets mad when I tell him that by choosing to eat and ignore him that I’m making a bold statement. I am making a statement that I’m worthy. He gets angrier when I tell him my weight isn’t who I am and it doesn’t matter how the world sees me because God looks at my heart. He gets livid when I tell him food is my friend. Food helps my body survive the demands of each day. He screams, he shouts, he bangs his fists against the walls of my mind. But I know in this moment, as I lay in my bed crying from the exhaustion I feel from fighting, that each time I challenge Ed, the smaller he becomes. And the smaller he becomes, the harder he will fight for control. And the harder he fights, the stronger my fight for freedom will become. So I will close my eyes, dream about becoming a colorful, lively free flower again, and wake up knowing I am clothed in God’s armor, and with God, anything, even conquering my hardest recovery battles, is possible.
So Friday, in an attempt to pull me out of my relapse that I can’t seem to beat at the moment, Maiya (my dietitian), sent me home with a stuffed puppy named Mitchell. The idea being that I am babysitting him and he is my accountability buddy and the only way Mitchell will be nourished is if I am nourishing myself. And somehow it took the guilt away from not feeding myself to feeling guilty instead for not feeding this little thing who is theoretically dependent on me. Honestly, I thought Maiya was absolutely losing her mind when she told me this was what we were going to do because it is just a stuffed animal and I know this! But turns out Maiya is actually a genius. And it’s driving me absolutely crazy that I can’t figure out why this little stuffed animal is helping me get my meals in, but I’m just gonna go with it for a while. Mitchell is actually very comforting to me during mealtimes too and after. I have been abnormally, severely petrified of eating and gaining weight and somehow it is helping me a little with that too. This is so confusing! I wish I could have been inside of Maiya’s head to figure out how on Earth she knew this would be helpful, but hopefully she will explain it next time I see her. The only problem is now I am overexercising to justify eating and burn more calories and it’s not helping with my fear foods that have returned. I guess it’s just important I don’t give up. And if I need a stuffed animal to help me through meals good news is someday I will be able to look back and smile at this right?!?
I also got to spend a lot of time with my best friend Ally over the weekend and it really helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone. I was talking to her about how hard it has been for me lately to not know how I look to the world. She said something that was really profound to me. She said, “It took me a really long time to realize and understand this, but everyone perceives beauty differently. Very rarely is it dependent on appearance. What one person might not see as beautiful about you, will become someone’s treasure. And what the little boy at work said about your belly, he doesn’t know the size of your heart.” Her words just hit me as this overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance and value. I felt valued. And I needed that so badly. And it really got me thinking I only have this one life. There are no do overs. I only have one chance to use the big heart I have to make a difference. Do I really want to waste it worrying about calories, food, weight, inches, BMI, body fat percentage, etc.? Do I really want or need to obsess about how healthy I can eat and how much I can work out so I don’t get obesity related diseases when I’m perfectly healthy and could honestly get hit by a car when I walk out the door tomorrow? Do I really want to live this life only halfway because I’m too worried about not being enough when the cross shows me daily that I am more than good enough, worthy enough, that just the way I am- I. Am. Enough. Do I want to starve myself of the beauty of connection, of love, and wholeness just to obtain worldly beauty? Obviously the answer is no. I ultimately want to live each moment with purpose, not restrained by earthly chains. I want to experience all life can offer. I want to bring others hope. But how can I do any of that if I can’t find that hope for myself right now? How can I do any of this if I continue to dance with Ed? I know I can’t. And maybe by sending me home with Mitchell, Maiya was trying to send me home with hope.