Everyone likes to be in control. And when the control we desperately seek is slipping from our grasp, we cling to its remains as if it were a life-line. What are the fears associated with losing control in regards to eating disorders?
Perhaps it’s admitting that you aren’t right? Or that you don’t have all the answers or aren’t smarter than doctors and dietitians? Perhaps it lies in reaching out for help and admitting that you aren’t weak to ask for help. Or maybe your fear is with God? Perhaps you think He desires your unhappiness and you are convinced He wants you to blow up like a whale? Perhaps you doubt His love for you?
Maybe something from your past plagues you and your eating disorder is all that you can control and if your let it go the unknown would terrify you? Perhaps you fear that if you stop exercising you will let yourself go? Perhaps you fear that you aren’t worthy of three meals a day? Or maybe your fear rests in self-control, and if you start eating again you won’t have the strength to stop? Therefore you convince yourself that it’s better to not eat at all if you are going to over eat? Perhaps you fear that if you start the day with a healthy breakfast you won’t be able to stop eating after that first meal and the rest of the day will be a disaster?
Does that sound about right?
I want to tell you a story.
It was about two months ago late in the evening when my phone rang. It was my friend Molly and I answered. I knew something was wrong by the sound of her voice. She said she needed to go to the ER. I jumped out of bed, put on the jeans laying on my desk chair, grabbed my keys and was out the door. Molly said she could go by herself. I told her I wouldn’t let her and asked her to let me love her by taking her.
I started praying the Rosary as I drove to her house, but got distracted by the decades and just prayed Hail Mary’s. I didn’t know what I would find when I got there and was nervous. We packed up her things, got in my car and drove to the ER. Once inside they asked her various questions and we were taken to a stretcher in the hallway, as the ER rooms were already full. It was 10pm.
Molly was severely struggling with an eating disorder and the attending physician said it would be hours before the psychiatrist would be able to give her a consult. We decided to make the best of our time there and played Adele and Marie Miller’s music from Molly’s lab top. We let nurses bring us heated blankets as they made jokes when asking who the patient was, since we were both sitting on the stretcher. One of the nurses thought for sure we had coordinated our visits to the ER, and we joked back saying there was no other place we would rather be at 2am. But, as vitals were taken and blood drawn we knew the severity of the visit.
So we didn’t just joke around. We got serious. We both knew why we were there, the pain is just a little to familiar for both our liking. Molly asked me questions about how I recovered. And I told her. We cried together.
The psychiatrist came to see Molly at 3:30am. I walked out of the ER, into the waiting room as they talked. I tried to stay seated, but pacing felt more comfortable. I paced the waiting room for a while, then sat down. I wept. My heart really ached for Molly.
She called me when they were done and I walked into the ER again. It was 4:10am. This time we really got serious in our conversation. She asked me what was the turning point in my recovery. And I told her.
I was sitting in a quiet Church holding onto my eating disorder with every ounce of strength within me. Then I gave it to God, and I mean I really gave it to God. I told Him I wanted to be healthy. I told Him I wanted to be the weight He wanted me to be. I told Him I wanted to feel His love. I told Him I would put away the scale and trust in Him. Were you scared? Molly asked. I was scared out of my mind, I said.
I told her how I view it – See God gives us all free will, but desperately wants us to choose Him. He wants us to make the right choice – eating three meals a day, not abusing exercise, not purging or bingeing etc. But He can’t force us to make that choice. We have to want it. I told Molly I wished I could give her that resolve to fight and make the right choice, but I can’t. Everyone needs to make that choice for themselves. He is waiting right next to us, hoping we choose Him over an eating disorder. When we say No, He still stays close. But when we say Yes to Him, that is when He takes over and turns the mess we have made into beauty. Yes, we need to fight, but the battle is easier with the King of Kings fighting right beside us.