Twelve years ago, I packed up my things and checked into a treatment facility in Wickenburg, Arizona. I had reached the end of myself in trying to deal with anorexia. After four years of struggle, hundreds of hours of therapy, and countless minutes spent obsessing over every calorie and scrutinizing every detail of my body each time I walked past a mirror I was just completely done. I remember sitting in my old Honda in the parking lot at work, tears streaming down my face, absolutely begging God to bring me the financial resources to go to treatment and for Him to step in and make it work.
I entered into a six-week residential treatment program at Remuda Ranch with lots of trepidation and an equal amount of gratitude.
Anorexia has been referred to as the disease of perfectionists, and for me this was true. I grew up always trying to do the "right" thing. I didn't drink until I was legally of age, didn't even kiss a boy until college, kept straight "A"s, and on and on, etc., blah, blah, blah.
I feel sad when I remember that I was, for awhile, pretty proud of myself for having the discipline to be anorexic - to starve my 5'7" frame down to 103 pounds and then sustain that. I thought I was remarkable.
Then I broke. I simply shattered. My teeth literally chattered as I sat at the breakfast table trying to eat one half of a kiwi - I was so afraid of those calories. I wasn't in control of my weight; my weight had complete dominion over me.
And yet, even thought I knew I was broken when I went to treatment, I still thought I was just a little bit better than people with other disorders or addictions. Surely I was better than bulimics, alcoholics, drug or sex addicts, right??!! I mean, they lacked control over their appetites and desires, while I exerted painstaking control over every morsel that entered my mouth.
As I looked around the treatment facility, I saw girls with scars up and down their arms from cutting. I saw women with vacant stares because their brains had been so damaged by drug abuse. I saw ladies with feeding tubes who had gone even further than I had down the path of anoretic despair and deterioration.
My first reaction was shock at how bad off these women were.
Then I realized that I was in the SAME facility that they were.
We were all equal. I wasn't "better than" a single soul in that place.
We were all coping.
We had, every single one of us, chosen coping mechanisms that damaged our health - physical, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Treatment was the Great Equalizer for me.
This was the first time I realized that I wasn't "better than" any other kind of addict. We were ALL hurting. We were ALL struggling. We were ALL grasping at something to help us deal with the challenges we were facing. For me, starvation was my coping mechanism. For others, it was cutting, or drugs, or alcohol, or sex.
We all need coping skills. But much, much more than that, we need a Savior. We need someone who will love us no matter how many times we've messed up and no matter what a shambles our life is in. We need someone who will lift us out of the pit in which we're stuck, someone who will wipe our faces clean, kiss our foreheads, and tell us He's so proud of us, just because we belong to Him.
WE NEED JESUS.
Those six weeks that I spent in treatment, and the three after that in a step-down facility did more for my perspective on God and Love and Grace than decades of Sunday school classes and church attendance. I am so thankful that I grew up in the church and that my parents taught me about the love of Christ. And yet I needed to SEE, FEEL and TASTE it for myself. Through one of the hardest times of my life, I felt the peace of Christ. He restored me and lifted me out of the pit I had made for myself. And more than that, He gave me a compassionate heart for those struggling to get out of their own pits of addiction.
Now, years into recovery, I know that we ALL have coping mechanisms. The key is finding ones that are healthy for us instead of damaging to us. Because I have lived through this struggle, I can see it in others as they look to whatever they think will fill the need that empty place in their hearts and lives.
I can say with 100% certainty that Jesus can and will fill that need. And then He can give you all the tools that you need to CONQUER whatever struggle you're facing. I don't mean to kinda sorta deal with it, and remain constantly tortured with your struggle - I mean to SMASH IT, CRUSH IT, and DO AN AWESOME VICTORY DANCE!
I am PROOF that if you are struggling with addiction, you can find freedom from that and walk through life confidently, loosened from the chains of whatever unhealthy habits may have bound you in the past.
No one's path is the same. Each of us is unique, and, thank the Lord, we each have a story that He has written for us.
For me personally, recovery was centered around two things:
1. My faith
2. My support system
My faith helped me to see my internal worth and value it, which led me to naturally make decisions that were healthier for my body.
My support network helped me stay accountable in recovery and navigate the challenges with which I was faced as I started on my new, healthy lifestyle.
In gratitude for what God has done in my life, I want to give people who have struggled with body image and weight issues that same support that I received when I was in the beginning stages of recovery from anorexia.
I'm creating a group coaching program that will be faith-based, centered on God's views of our value, and how we should treat our bodies in light of that. We will begin the twelve-week program in December and the topics of the weekly calls will be based on what the group members tell me that they need to be supported as we break the chains of negative body image and the yo-yo diet lifestyle.
I'm looking for ten women who are ready and willing to STOP SHAMING their bodies and begin treating them instead as the gorgeous temples that they are. If you are interested in the program, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a 20 minute call. If you're not interested, but you know someone who would be, please share this post with them. Your input is incredibly valuable to me and will help me create a program that will support, empower and uplift all the women who participate!
Praying Psalm 40:2 in gratitude for what God has done:
"He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along."