He looked at me with rage in his blue eyes and gritted his teeth, “Get in the car.” My father had just caught me throwing up a snack I had eaten. I refused to keep anything down. He had watched this ongoing cycle for three years after my hospital stay. I would take 1 step forward and 3 backwards.
“How do you want to die?” he asked as he drove up the highway. I did not answer.
“How do you want to die?” he yelled, his face red with frustration and there were tears in his eyes.
“I do not know, but I do not want to live….like this. I just do not know what to do.” I cried as I looked down at my hands, feeling overwhelmed, scared, and defeated. “I do not know where to start.”
“I know I can not tell you to just eat. I know that doesn’t work. But, your time is limited. You will die and when you die, I will die, too.” He cried as his hands gripped the wheel. I think he chose to take a drive so there would be no distractions. He wanted me to hear him loud and clear.
“You will do the hard things that you have to do to recover. You are going to figure it out and you are going to use your talent. You are determined and stubborn. Why can’t you be determined to recover?”
Perfectionism took over my life and it was one of the things that pushed my eating disorder forward. If I could just do more, then it will all be better. If I could lose five pounds, I would be happy. If everything is in its place, then I will be able to relax. If I have the perfect clothes, nobody would know how empty I was inside. If I could just do more, be more, then things will be better…eventually. But, it doesn’t work that way. I had also given up on this “Christian” life because I couldn’t do the rules and live the way other Christians wanted me to live. All or nothing.
I had given up on recovery because it wasn’t perfect and I failed. For me, it was all of nothing. There was nothing in between. I had no idea how to fail and I had no idea what do with my failure. And it was time to take a real step forward.
At the time, I did not believe counseling could help. The counseling I had in the hospital was very impersonal and had not grown me. Nobody could do this for me. My dad was done with me. Everyone was tired of me. I was done with me.
The only time I ever prayed was when I had no other choice. It was my last resort. I was really mad at God because I thought He should just fix me. I didn’t want to do any work, I just wanted to be fixed. And as I prayed I heard in my mind, “Choose to do one thing.” Just do one thing. Choose one thing.
That is how I started. I chose one small goal, one achievable goal. I also hated myself so much, that I tried to find one thing that I liked about myself.
- To keep breakfast down every day until I enjoyed it.
This took 7 months. When I first started, I paced because the internal struggle was so severe and hard. I started with safe foods and then tried to go outside my box and try foods that would be harder to keep down. This was a process to change my thinking and the process was hard and time consuming.
- I liked my eyes.
My eyes change color depending on my mood. Instead of focusing on all of the things I wasn’t, I focused on one small thing that I was. When you hate yourself, this is really hard to do. Looking into my own eyes helped me see where I was and where I had to go.
There are so many times that we have ourselves in such a hole, we do not know where to start. As women, we have an idea of where we want to be, but really we do not have any way to get there Usually that goal is a lie that we have been told about what it means to be a woman, mom, wife, etc. We want to lose weight, but when we do not see the scale move after 5 days, we give up. Perfection. We want to be a better wife or mom, but when we lose it or mess up, we internally beat ourselves up and think that we are horrible. Perfection. And if we have a stronghold, something we do in secret, that we are struggling to give up, and we can’t just give it up, we see ourselves as weak and a loser, so we just continue to do it. Perfection.
Perfection and quick fixes do not exist. When we surrender to that, we begin to grow. Growth happens when we are honest and we begin to work. Jesus met me every time that I asked, but growth happens in the failure, the realization of that failure, and the step forward in faith that it can get better. Slowly take the mask off, and look at yourself. You are beautiful. What is holding you back? Identify that and choose one small thing. Do one small thing to begin the process of making it better. And when you mess up, try again. Because failing forward is the best growth.