ED makes me feel special. I get to be different from everyone with ED. I’m not vanilla pudding in a crowd when ED’s with me. I’m skinnier than everyone else. I have more will power than everyone else. I exercise more than everyone else. I’m not average.
I remember being average. I wasn’t the best at sports. I was on the B team in junior high. I tried out for volleyball freshman year. I was on the edge of good enough, but instead I became a manager. Still a part of the team but not quite. I wasn’t the best singer. I didn’t make concert choir until senior year. No solo performances, but I could hold a tune. I was a good student, never had to work super hard to get my A’s, but I wasn’t the smartest. I was the quiet girl who sat in her desk and didn’t cause problems. When teachers saw my papers in their stacks to grade I’m sure they knew it would be solid work, probably not earth shattering, but the student who followed directions and got it done. I wasn’t the loud, boisterous one; not the life of the party or center of attention. I had a fun group of friends. I always loved hanging out with them. I melted with the gang and fit right in. I wasn’t the most beautiful. I had average looks. No guys ever did a double take when I walked down the hall. The double takes were for some of my friends. I didn’t really care. I wasn’t super interested in dating. But a double take would have been nice. I didn’t have a set-me-apart talent. I did dance team in high school. That was my niche. I could keep a beat. But I was jealous of those girls who could flip across the gym floor. I became very good at daydreaming. I made up the best daydreams. In my daydreams I was always the life of the party, the one the guys paid attention to, the star of the show, the one that stood out from the crowd. I made up very good daydreams, zoned out on the bus or in church or anywhere I could safely live in my head. In my daydreams, I wasn’t average.
And then ED got ahold of me. I didn’t know it bothered me to be average until ED told me it bothered me. I believed ED. I forgot to believe my mom who gave me hugs every morning before school. I forgot to believe my dad who hammered that wooden target on the side of the garage so I could practice my volleyball digs. I forgot to believe the group of friends I had who knew if a party was to be found I’d be in the middle of it. I forgot to believe the red-headed best friend who spent hours rollerblading with me on summer nights, who was always up for a trip to Dairy Queen, who eventually fell in love with this average alto he sat next to in concert choir so long ago. And I forgot to believe my God who put his seal on my forehead as a baby and made me His, whole and forever. I forgot truth because ED told me lies. ED took me from average and made me special. I got attention in ways I never had before, all because of ED.
Rhonda, what happened to you? You’ve melted into nothing!
Rhonda, I can’t believe you can run that far. That is amazing! I wish I had as much dedication as you.
Rhonda, how do do it? I wish I had that much will power! Then I could be as skinny as you.
Rhonda, you’re so lucky. You can eat whatever you want because you are so in shape.
Rhonda, how do you do it? What’s your secret?
My secret? MY SECRET? I’ll tell you my secret. My secret is an evil fiend that lies to me, manipulates me, chains me to rigid rules that take away my freedom, my friends, my family, my ability to think clearly, my ability to make my own decisions. My secret is an empty life based on a false sense of control and a deep fear of being found out as a fake. My secret is living a life of isolation, pretending to be the poster child for a healthy life style, hiding from any social interaction that could put a spotlight on my compulsive behavior and obsessive lifestyle. My secret is hiding behind defensiveness of any critical words or sidewise glance, anger at a hint that I might not be as healthy as I appear. My secret is my deep need to no longer be average because I want to be special for once. I want to be the one that gets all the attention, even if that attention is based on lies. I don’t know they are lies. To me, they are who I have become. The new me. The improved me. The special me. Because ED makes me believe this is who I am now. ED makes sure I think that this new me is real, that I’m worthy of all the praise and admiration, because if I know it’s ED that made me this way, then I’ll know that I’m really not special. And I don’t want to go back to being just a blurred face in the crowd. Why would I want average? Why would I want to give all this up?
Because I want to live again.
I want to know freedom. I want to go out for lunch with friends and not be scared of unknown calorie counts. I want to interact with my family after supper instead of wallowing in self-loathing because I ate that extra bite that I wasn’t supposed to have. I want to want to go to parties with friends and not stand by the food table and eat everything in sight because I just can’t stop, because ED gave me permission to eat and so nothing else matters. I want to allow my husband to hug me instead of pushing him away because “I’ve got things to do”. I want to eat the same food as my family and not have to cook two suppers – one for them and one for me. I want to sleep later than 4:30 and not have to compulsively run all over town before I’m allowed to go home in peace. I want to be able to focus on a conversation with friends instead of simultaneously fighting against ED’s voice in my head. I want to get up in the morning without my first thought being of what was the last thing I ate so I could decide if I should feel guilty or not. I want to be able to connect with my students instead of be worried about whether I’d have time to get in some extra exercise after school. I want to not fight with Benj anymore about my exercise. I want to have friends again. I want to be present for my boys. I want to have patience instead of rage. I want to make my own decisions because they are logical and they are mine. I want to not hate the way I look. I want to not compare myself to everyone. I want to have light in my eyes. I want to know joy. I want to be able to give love instead of shriveling up into myself more and more everyday. I want to be able to talk to God without feeling guilt for putting ED before Him.
I want to live. Not an average life, but the life I was created for. I want to live as a child of God, dearly loved, created in the image of the Almighty God of the universe who knew me before the world began, who sent his only Son to die for me. For me. Because he knew even then that I was going to need his saving grace to fight off the lies of the evil one, to unravel from this web of deception. I want to live set free from shame and darkness, living in the light of life. Because I am not average. I was bought at a price so dear, so deep, that it broke through the chains of death and made me anything but average. It made me Rhonda Joy. Child of the King.