Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Ephesians 2:10 “ For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us new in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago”
We so often talk about the struggles of recovery because it is a struggle and not for the faint of heart. I am learning that my recovery is not perfect nor is it linear. I am not perfect, and I have honestly become okay with this. Therefore, as an EDIT™ level 3 Eating Disorder Recovery Coach, I realize that clients' recoveries are not perfect nor linear and I am okay with this because I have been where you are. I have ridden the waves of recovery, lapse, and relapse, and it is only by faith that God has created me to be so much more than my body that this wave of recovery has grown more powerful than the dark threatening churning of a lapse, hence; staving off a relapse. He has created me to do good things! He has done great healing, and yet I falter…
Eating Disorder (ED)recovery is flipping difficult and exhausting work because it isn’t about the food, and it is about the food. For people with anorexia, the very thing we fear (food) is our medicine. Those with Bulimia or BED food becomes a comforter, a “friend.” According to a recent article on the Mirror-Mirror website, nine common myths about eating disorder are debunked. While all of these are important to debunk, I am including the two most prevalent myth’s that I hear in my work as an EDIT™ Level 3 Certified Eating Disorder Recovery Coach. When we, as victims of this illness align with these myths, shame can enfold us.
A common misconception is that an eating disorder is all about wanting to be thin. While I personally hold the assumption that the majority eating disorders start with a diet (Thank you diet culture!). I likewise agree with Mirror-Mirror ( https://mirror-mirror.org/myths-realities ) Eating disorders are complex Neuro-biological based illnesses “And can occur in individuals that do not wish to be thinner than they are.” It is this complex biology that can morph a diet into an eating disorder for some, while in others it does not. It isn’t vanity.
The other misconception is in regards to Binge Eating Disorder, sometimes labeled compulsive over eating. Regardless of the label/diagnosis these people are not just lazy and/or gluttons. “They are people in emotional pain trying to cope the only way the know how.” This use of food is used to block out feelings, tough emotions, and trauma.. I have seen individuals use both the restriction of food and the overeating of food to say the “no!” That their voices can’t say in an effective way to be heard.
One voice that I can still hear and allow to run rent free in my brain, if I don’t keep my eyes on Jesus, is that of ED. The volume can be turned up by any number of triggers, including well intended comments about my recovered body, a memory, a dream, a thought, feeling, a mistake, etc.
Taking my eyes off Jesus leaves me a vulnerable “Peter,” slipping beneath the water into an eddy of thoughts. “It is not about the weight, and it is about the weight.” “It is about the food, it is not about the food.” “It is my enemy, it is my friend.” “I am worthy, I am not worthy.” My inner critic rises like a full moon tide. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself beating myself up for the things I have not done right, or at the very least things I have not done well. Sometimes this is in regards to ED, and other times it is in regards to other areas of my life. Hmm? How quickly can I move from I am okay with imperfection, to expecting perfection?
John 15:15 "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends…”
Reflecting on my journey with ED I know ED was not my friend, but Jesus is. Oh, how I love that Jesus has been reminding me of this lately. He is my friend, even when I wander. I have been taking at least 5-10 minutes a day just to sit quietly with Jesus, my friend. Quieting my brain and thoughts are never easy for this anxious brain. The shoulds, coulds, whys, and how could you say that, join the eating disorder the chatter. Thoughts fall upon me as quickly as the colored leaves tumble towards the lawn outside my window.
Before I know it my time of silence has been hijacked by what a retired clinical counselor and friend of mine, Gary Sweeten, calls ANTS; Automatic Negative Thinking/Thoughts. We all have them. Mine can march like infantry into my mind at any given time, particularly as soon as I choose to sit in stillness with Jesus. Of course my inner critic berates myself for having such a difficult time sitting quietly in the presence of The Lord. My antidote to “ANTs” is.... Sitting in the presence of The Lord
I have learned two things this week that have encouraged me to keep pursuing this stillness with Jesus. The first is I reach into Scripture and find one that I can inhale and exhale. Most of the time my scripture is Holy Spirit given. For example; John 3:16 Inhale, "For God so loved the world," hold the breath, exhale “he gave his only begotten son.” I find a scripture allowing God to speaks to me through my breath, connecting me with Jesus. Well, until the ANTs come marching in! I am learning to acknowledge the “ANT” and surrender it. It is in the surrender that I am to follow my breath, my prayer, my friend Jesus once again. Quite honestly, I spend a lot of time surrendering and starting over, and over. It is often frustrating and I remind myself " I Am not perfect, and I am in the process of learning to be okay with this."
The amazing second thing I have learned is that following the ANT and surrendering over and over, isn’t failure. Each surrender is simply another moment to meet with my friend Jesus sending ED and other thoughts out of my head to the foot of The Cross!
What scripture is calling to speak to you through your breath?
What thoughts can you send to the foot of the cross?
How can this simple practice aide in your recovery?