Thoughts. The silent behavior.
I remember a point in my recovery when everyone was pleased with my progress. I was finally getting there. According to the “numbers”, I was healthy, stable. But I knew they were wrong. Although my treatment team was aware that I still had negative thoughts from time to time, they were pleased with my ability to continue to move forward in recovery. They kept telling me, “You are stable, but if you did a little more ‘weight recovery’ (non-eating disorder peeps, this means “gain weight”) the thoughts will not be so bad or even go away. But you will know when it’s time.”
Then it happened. I was going into a local health food store to get my weekly roasted veggie wrap. I got it every week. I looked forward to it. Initially, it had been outside my wheelhouse, but now I felt comfortable eating it. But, like most former restricters, if I had placed it in my plan, it needed to be there. So, in I go to get my wrap. Only this time there was a problem. No wrap. Not just ‘no wrap’ right now, but ‘yeah, we don’t make that anymore-no wrap.’ Uhm. What do you mean? How can you just not have it? What am I supposed to eat?! I was counting on that!! No, I don’t want your tofu, tempeh, whatever else you’re saying, because my mind is already in over drive!!!
After I berated the peace-loving sweet girl behind the counter, I stormed out. Angrily, I drove to the Starbucks parking lot and called my friend. “Pray for me,” I said, “I am ready. I am calling the RD today. It’s time to gain some weight.”
And I did. After making one more call to a friend for prayer, I called my treatment team and made an appointment. I was terrified. But I was also tired. Tired of the incessant arguing with the eating disorder voice. Tired of embarrassing myself in public about food. (There were also a few pita bread incidents at the local produce store.) Just tired. I had no idea how I was going to walk into my biggest fear- gaining weight. I mean, I had tried to avoid it for so long. Even in my recovery, all was done with the idea that I could recover without having to gain weight if I could stay stable. Although the “numbers” said I was fine, my mind was anything but. Something had to give.
I was getting ready to face my biggest fear head on. I went from running away from gaining weight for so long…fleeing in fact, to stopping, turning around and saying, “Here I am. Let’s do this.” I had no idea how this was actually going to happen. I felt like I was already at max capacity food-wise. How could I eat any more? I knew the chatter in my brain was also pretty loud and wondered if I could withstand all that was going to be running through my mind. The constant berating of the voice that told me I was “fat”—ugh. The weekly weigh-ins?—double ugh. This was not going to be “fun.”
I stood on the precipice. I knew that either way, nothing would be the same after this. One of two things could happen: 1) I would be able to face this fear and my recovery would continue to move forward. 2) It would be too overwhelming and I would relapse.
This was not going to be a battle between me and the scale, the food, the weight. I was fighting for my mind- and ultimately my heart and soul.
What happened next? That is for another post. But I will tell you what happened first. I had to give up. This battle would not be fought by me and me alone. I would need the strength of Someone who had already won the war. THIS battle would begin with prayer.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I am sure that this is not the prayer I prayed. More likely, it was a non-poetic crying out for the strength and peace mentioned in Philippians. I seem to recall it was something to the effect, “Get me through this, get me through this, get me through this….HELP!” As I looked for a verse or verses to describe the feelings I had during this time, it is interesting to me that Psalms 23- a passage usually read a funerals- seemed to fit perfectly. I would be sitting at a table in the presence of my enemy (my thoughts), I would be walking into the darkest valley of my biggest fear. Yet, I would be doing this with the guidance and presence of my Heavenly Father, the prayers of my family, and the victory of Jesus. I did not know exactly what would happen, but either way, I would be safe in the arms of Jesus. The old me would be gone, the new would come.