ED is quiet. Because I haven’t been letting him talk. The more I shut him up, the less power he has over me. I have been released me from the Crazy Cycle of an eating disorder. With an eating disorder, ED controls my anxiety. If I eat, ED speaks lies. If ED speaks lies, my anxiety rises. If my anxiety rises, the more power ED has. If ED has power, he makes me exercise more. If I exercise more, ED allows me to eat. If I eat, ED speaks lies. . . See, the Crazy Cycle.
Put yourself in that tornado and try to get out.
There is a clear reason why so many patients at Melrose go back over and over for treatment. The Crazy Cycle is a force to be reckoned with. By God’s grace, and His grace alone, have I been able to free myself from it. That is why it was so easy for me to live my faith at Melrose. I wanted all those at Melrose to know this grace that can break their Crazy Cycles too. God redeemed my life from the pit, and now I am living proof that He uses the broken. Every sermon I hear I wish I could stand up and say, look, use me as the object lesson. This person, this life, this Rhonda, is what God means when he said he came to save the lost. And he keeps saving me everyday. The cracks ED exploited as a means to control me are being repaired by a Carpenter with a hammer in one hand and nails in the other.
Food is no longer a crack ED can slither through. I have my tallies. I think in terms of proteins, grains, fats, veggies, fruits, milks, and desserts now, not in terms of calories. I can eat nacho cheese dip, and I don’t feel guilty because I realize I can either eat that now for a fat or put mayo on my sandwich later for a fat. Both are fats, it doesn’t matter what that fat is or what time of day it is eaten. My body needs them in whichever form it can get. I need a certain amount of them in a day so where they come from really doesn’t matter to me as long as I get them in. The opposite works as well. I don’t under-eat, but I don’t overeat either. I eat my tallies for the day and I stop. I don’t eat over my tallies because I know my body doesn’t need more. I have no idea what my calories add up to in a day, but in a stretch of days, as long as I’m following my tallies, my body uses appropriately what it is getting. Too many tallies, and I gain weight. Too few tallies and I lose weight. My dietitian has balanced my tallies so that my body gets the right amount. God did not create us to count calories. He created us to use food as a means of getting the calories we need for energy to live each day. So ED, take a hike. My tallies end you. No, excuse me, my God who created the tallies ends you and your worthless calorie-counting self.
Exercise’s crack for ED to sneak through is in process of being nailed shut. I’ve got accountability and perspective. Yesterday morning I fought one of my greatest fights and won for the first time ever. My therapist at Melrose asked me, “How will you know when exercise isn’t a trigger for you anymore?” My answer was simple, “When I can turn my alarm off in the morning and decide that I don’t want to exercise that day. And after making that decision, I won’t feel guilty the rest of the day.” Yesterday my alarm went off at 5am to go lap swimming. I turned my alarm off, rolled over to my Benj and whispered, “I don’t feel like it today. I’m going back to sleep.” Did you hear that ED? Did you hear that? Bam. I shut you down and killed your power. You, ED, I don’t need. You are worthless and
I. Don’t. Need. You.
I turned my alarm off because I didn’t feel like exercising. I wanted to sleep. I knew swimming laps would make my morning hectic since I had to be at school early, and I prefer the relaxed mornings of my new world to the crazy chaotic mornings of the old. I wanted time for devotions. So I rolled over and slept. Throw my head back and shout! Dance like David! Soar on wings like eagles! Can you sense the joy coursing through my veins. I fought that battle and won by God’s grace. That had to have hurt ED’s pride bad. I talked back to the king of manipulation. I shut him down and stole his power by wielding my own. I’m not cowering in a corner ready to do anything to appease the mighty ED. I’m not a weakling being tossed around by the storm. I’m in the boat with the One who calms the storm.
Body image and comparison no longer give ED a foot in the door. While I was driving to my therapist last week I had a light bulb go off right over my head in the Yukon. I’m surprised I didn’t blind the other drivers and cause a crash. I thought back to all the days in the past week that had been bad days, and I suddenly realized all the bad days had been days that I had worn my old clothes. I had gotten rid of all my jeans, skirts with a button waistband, some tighter shirts, but I had kept a lot of my other shirts, my jogging pants, clothes I really liked. But still, even though those clothes fit, they didn’t fit like they had before. Instant comparison. I knew my shirts weren’t hanging on my hips the same way, my jogging pants hugged my waist tighter than before, my dresses didn’t have quite as much room around my waist. So although they “fit”, they didn’t fit the way I remembered. ED had an open crack to start whispering lies, reminding me of my previous size, coaxing me to return to my old ways so things could go back to the way they were “supposed” to be. My therapist and I came to a quick fix for this problem. All my old clothes had to go away. All of them. Every girl’s dream is to get a new wardrobe. This girl’s fight for her life was a new wardrobe.
Since cleaning out all my old clothes, ED’s voice has gone away. He has no foothold for comparison. I have a new reality; not the reality I remember. I have clothes that fit the way they fit when I first put them on. And that fit is this new me, not the ED me. I like the new me. The new me has way different taste then the ED me. Seriously, very different tastes. Give me flashy leggings and cozy socks over jeans and gym socks any day. My beloved crocs that I’ve worn every day for the past 13 years (I make no exaggerations) have been lying lonely in my closet. I actually feel bad for them. They must wonder where their dear Rhonda went. She went a new direction and for some reason, that new direction doesn’t include frumpy crocs or baggy sweatpants. I feel beautiful on the outside because my inside has been washed by the blood of the Lamb. And that cleansing wash has rinsed away the grime and gunk that the ED me hid behind. Now I can shine with the Light of the world. ED doesn’t have a chance. He can go crawl into whatever dark hole he can find for all I care. He’s done.
ED is quiet, but I can’t pretend that ED doesn’t exist. That would be naive and irresponsible. For me, ED has a presence that will always be. But his presence doesn’t have to mean he has control. That presence will be from the outside, not the inside. I will stand on my guard, wrapped in the armor of God. My job is to not allow myself to live a life of fear. I can be afraid of ED finding a new crack or worming his way into an old one. But what kind of life is a life controlled by fear? If I don’t trust my Carpenter, I won’t give him free reign to fix any cracks he sees. He needs to work, and I say, have at it. ED is sneaky. This I know. He’s lurking. ED may be around, but he’s losing ground. If I were him, I’d move my foot before my Carpenter finishes his renovation and seals my cracks for good. He’s getting closer to a finished project every day.