“God has already caught me. His goodness and love have pursued me and won me. I just need to jump into that reality” Lysa Terkeurst in Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely
“You’re going to eat or you’re going to leave.” I sat stunned as these words were being said to me. Silenced. Empty. Numb. They were being said by the director of my treatment center. I had a choice to make.
Treatment was nothing new. I had done this before. Many times, in fact. I had been through treatment center after treatment center. I knew the rules. I would eat. I wouldn’t purge. I would smile and say how much better I felt now that I was nourished. I would excitedly plan for my future now that there was hope for one. I was a perfect patient…. until I wasn’t. Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I would then find a way to sneak around. I would lie. This was usually only a few days in. I knew the rules. I also knew the games.
It’s not that I didn’t want help. I wanted nothing more than to be free from the disease that had taken so much away. It took my friends and my dreams. It took school and jobs. It came close to taking my family. I wanted help. But I couldn’t. I could not face the day without my eating disorder. It was such a part of me. By my early 30s, after 20 years with an eating disorder, I feared it was all of me. If you took it away, there would be nothing left. A hollow soul.
The ‘could not’ eventually became a ‘would not’. I didn’t know this yet though. I didn’t know I was stronger. I didn’t know I was ready. I was still playing the game that I had played for years. The game that said I wanted help, but I was not willing to trust the Helper. I was still relying on my own self-will to take care of me. My eating disorder was my best friend. My identity. My savior. How could I let that go? How would I survive? I had not yet truly said help. I didn’t know how. And so here were those words “Eat or leave.” I had a choice to make.
I remained stunned and numb that night. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen- this was not how the game was played. This director clearly did not get the memo. I am always sent out with words of praise and admiration from my group. Everyone saying I have a bright future and a strong recovery. I always get a beautiful sendoff as I walk out the treatment doors- no one knowing that I was still submerged in the depth of my disease. Waves taking me out one by one as I smile and thank everyone for all they have done for me. As I walk right back into the loneliness and isolation that is an eating disorder. Not this time. This time I had to make a choice. “Eat or leave.” There would no charade here.
I honestly don’t know why I made the choice to eat four years ago. Maybe it was my desire to be liked- I had never been kicked out of anywhere before. Maybe it was the group of friends I had started to make- it had been a long time since I had friends. Maybe somewhere deep inside I did have hope of a different life. I don’t know. But I woke up the next morning and did the most terrifying thing- I jumped. And I jumped again the next morning. And the next. It was excruciating. Layer after layer was peeling off and I was left feeling naked and afraid and oh so vulnerable. And I was also being caught. Day after day. I was being held up, loved, and affirmed by people who cared. People who showed love and grace to me. I began to trust. And as I began to trust them, I knew that God had led me here. To this place, to these people. They held me until I could see that God had already caught me. He caught me a long time ago- I just never knew it. I just had to jump into that reality.
I just spent a beautiful Easter weekend with my husband and son. I would go through it all again to end up in this place. My husband is smart and funny and stubborn as a mule. Even when he is at his worst- I’m grateful he’s mine. I hope he feels the same way about me- my worst is seriously…. the worst. I’m more stubborn than a mule. Our child is smart and funny. He is highly sensitive and is the most strong willed child I have ever seen. I can’t imagine where he gets it… And I love every single sensitive, strong willed hair on his head. Recovery hasn’t been perfect and it’s still not easy, but it’s life. Life after many, many years of dying. And on this Easter weekend where we celebrate life after death- I am grateful. Grateful for the cross. Grateful for the resurrection. And grateful that God continues to be a God of miracles.
**I have posted the link to Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst on my Let’s Read page. This book is a must read for anyone who has ever been afraid to jump.