Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fifteen Years Ago

Food is one of my obsessions.  I can still taste the garlicky, lemony, minty tang of the fattoush I savored (devoured?) a little while ago.  When I was in high school, I would pride myself on eating a completely fat-free breakfast (Total cereal with skim milk and fruit) and lunch (school-lunch salad with fat-free dressing).  Then, I'd gorge myself on the homemade meal that my mom would serve to our family for dinner.  I'd eat so much that I would lay on the floor afterward  moaning, "I ate too much."  Somewhat dysfunctional, wouldn't you say?

Unfortunately, I continued this cycle of deprivation and overindulgence in the dorm cafeteria at college.  Unfortunate, not because I gained a lot of weight, but unfortunate due to the emotional reliance on food I developed.  Eventually, I became bulimic. 

My freshman year of college, I ran track.  I developed awesome muscular thighs.  I also turned nineteen and grew hips out of my previously boyish frame.  Not a problem until my eating continued on over-drive my sophomore year when I was no longer running on the team.  Again, I didn't gain a lot of weight, but I felt self-conscious about my body and guilty when I ate too much.  So, to me, throwing up my too-big dinner was a way of correcting it.  And, I'd always gotten a lot of praise for my skinny body.  I was no longer unique in this way but rather normal. 

I knew that it was wrong and dangerous.  I tried to stop my behaviors.  I repeated confessed my sins.  I couldn't stop.  My struggle continued for a year and a half.  I didn't throw up every day.  It never caused me to lose weight- just kept my overeating under control.  Well, my eating wasn't under control- I just undid a little of it. 

Several things happened that allowed me to be victorious over this disease and regain wholeness with regard to my body image and food:

1.  I dislocated my knee in tumbling class.  It was the only injury I've ever had requiring medical attention.  God's plan had a twist of irony.  Because of my injury, I wasn't physically able to squat by the toilet to throw up.  Also,  I realized that as humans our bodies are so valuable and yet fragile.  An injury can happen to easily.  So, why was I purposely doing something that could harm my body?

2.  I was involved in a Chiristian ministry.  Slowly I began telling others about my struggle.  I had heard that confessing a secret sin breaks its power.  In my experience, this was quite true. 

3.  God renewed my mind through His word.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful.  I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14  I also had to train myself to eat more reasonably.  Sounds quirky, but before I reached for a snack in my dorm room, I made myself read a Proverb.  I also wanted to make sure my true hunger was for the things of God.

4.  I had to train my mind also to not study the bodies of other women.  I would compare parts of my body to theirs to see how I measured up.  I still longed to find my significance in my body.  I had to remind myself that my friends valued me not for the shape of my body.

5.  I became much less legalistic with my eating.  I have learned to enjoy quality foods.  I rarely reach for the fat-free option.  I try to eat foods close to the way God made them. 

Remarkably, I never had to seek professional help for my bulimia.  It helps me to share my story with others and to practice healthy habits of mind, spirit, and body. 

1 comment:

Tricia@onceamonthmom.com said...

I'm so glad you shared. I never knew. I'm not sure what moved you to write about it now but I want to encourage you towards your goals and being healthy. You are an amazing woman!