It pains me so much to talk about eating disorders in connection to myself. I wish I could say it’s not due to shame, but it completely is. I hate the selfishness of bulimia, the vanity and insecurity that guides and destroys a body from anorexia. I hate admitting I’ve spent years as a slave to these very issues that constantly tempt my imprisonment.
Since I left Mercy (almost 5 years ago!!), I’ve used the tools that I learned to conquer the insatiable demons of hunger that ate away inside me.
I’ve also spent, longer than necessary, my time feeding the unsatisfied hunger with other comforts, sometimes grabbing at any and everything to calm the growls of my soul.
I traded addictions in effort to be free. I wanted to say, “eating disorders are in my past, it was a teenage phase, I did my time in rehab, and I am WAY past recovered.”
But it’s not true. As I’ve spent these past few weeks in Africa, I’ve realized more than ever that I am still recovering. From my struggles with bulimia and anorexia, from my struggles with my personal addictions, from the trauma of life. I am still recovering.
Being out of the country for 5 weeks has taken me away from all the remedies I usually feed myself to comfort my aching heart. The distractions, even addictions if you will, that I usually hide behind are gone.
It took two whole days of being left with myself for my journal to be completely charted with calorie intake and outtake info. It took three days of anxiety, major food restriction, counting, and controlled, charted journal entries for me to realize what I was even doing.
Recovered? How did I so quickly revert back to all out consumption of those numbers? Of the ways of the past, simply because the other comforts I had used were now gone?
The truth of how I traded addictions was right in my face. But learning to be fully alive has begun to tear at the roots of my struggles.
Being fully alive is both a challenge and a relief. I love being fully alive, because it makes me confront the life I’ve tried so hard to smuggle down.
Being fully alive means listening to the birds sing, the hyenas howl, the children laugh – instead of listening to the anxieties in my mind.
Being fully alive means feeling the wind on my face, rushing through my hair – instead of feeling for the arms of another.
Being fully alive means that when I go on runs and start getting attacked by dirty children wanting to touch my skin and hair that is so different from theirs, I stop and get down on my knees in the dirt and hug each kid, asking them about their day in their own language and pausing to hold them close – instead of continuing to run with simply a wave.
Being fully alive means I value loving others and relationships above my workout regimen.
Being fully alive means being present in the moment instead of scheduling my future.
Being fully alive means holding three kids simultaneously while they cry, instead of sending them to their rooms for being children.
Being fully alive means looking at the strong arms that are holding those kids and thanking God I can hold all of them – instead of cursing God, wishing my arms were thinner or more defined.
Being fully alive means when I’m sad, I cry, when I’m happy, I smile, and in as many times as I can, I laugh – instead of hiding behind my phone, a boyfriend, or chocolate cake to avoid feeling or truly being.
I love being fully alive. I love feeling this very moment instead of wishing for another. I love being in the “right now” instead of stressing and hoping for graduation, a different job, a new school schedule, a different month or year or life.
I love that I am still in recovery, still in the process of healing. I love the memories that come with shame, because I love hearing the voice of God again and again deep inside my soul with the words, “as far as the east is from the west...”
I am fully alive. Completely flawed, courageously beautiful, astounded by mercy, and fully alive.
…”If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is – she is a sinner.” ….”Do you see this woman.. her sins, though they are many, are forgiven, for she loved much…” Luke 7:36-50