If you have an eating disorder, you know that recovery is not a one-and-done thing. I’m not talking about a treatment center or recovery program — those can certainly be one-time things. I’m talking about the everyday, 24-7, constant reality of living with an eating disorder. There are moments when ED is quiet, but he is never really gone. And that, for me, is the most heartbreaking part of meeting other people who have eating disorders — just how many of us are in this never-ending battle.
One of my goals this year was to actively work at making peace with my body, as it is now, not as I would like it to be. And this a lot harder than you might think. People with eating disorders typically think in terms of goals, of movement, or progression — whether it’s trying to lose or gain five pounds, we thrive on the pressure to succeed (hence why many of us are Type A to the extreme). So this is a whole new territory: being okay with the here and now.
Three weeks ago my husband and I planned to go on a day trip the Saturday after Thanksgiving: drive a few hours, hike a few miles, and soak in a natural hot spring. Bathing suits are scary. Bathing suits right after Thanksgiving are downright terrifying. But with this new goal, I chose not to spend the weeks leading up to this trip restricting/exercising like crazy. I did not try to lose weight or work on my core. I just lived.
Simple, yet so so hard.
Hard, yet I did it.
Was I strutting around in my bikini? No. Did I feel a twinge of self-hatred when I looked at my husband’s photos of us in our swimsuits? Yes.
I am not perfect. I am not healed. But I wore my swimsuit. Around people. And I consider that a win.
With this new goal, I have also begun the process of accepting my aging body. I am not 15. I am twice that age. My obsession with remaining the same size I was then is not only extremely unrealistic but it’s also harmful — emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” — Romans 9:20
Always, but especially this season, let’s put some good energy out into the world by being thankful for our minds and bodies. Regardless of our disorders and disabilities, God made us exactly the way he wanted us to be, to fellowship, to witness, to share, and to live as fully as we can.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” — John 10:10
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.