ED sits sullenly on the back burner, pushed out of the way to make room for the more important pots to boil. He sits congealing as he turns cold and clumpy, like leftover oatmeal or grease forming on the top of the pot roast. ED is that kind of gross. Better to toss out than try to save the long forgotten mystery food. He’s that look of contempt when you pull the cold, crusted-over pan off the stove and realize the mistake you’ve made in not washing it sooner. ED is the plop as the food lands in the sink to be ground down in the garbage disposal. I love the garbage disposal.
I know ED; ED used to know me. We’ve been together for such a long time, but I’ve changed in the last 6 months, so much so that ED is having a hard time hanging on to our old relationship. I’ve pushed him onto that back burner and allowed him to cool off. I’ve got more important things to do than worry about scrubbing out an old pan I don’t use anymore. I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing that’s so much more important than taking care of ED:
I went out with my girlfriends on a Friday night – left Benj with the boys for a night of laughing that can only be defined as “Girls Night Out”. I ate French fries and barbecue and dang, it was good.
I ate a brat. Off limit food. Enough said.
I ran on a treadmill for 43 minutes. I got sweaty, exhausted, breathless, and it felt empowering. And then I got off because I had other things to do that day.
I went for a walk with my husband on a warm spring morning. Just the two of us. We walked side by side. We talked about the boys, about our plans for the week, about who lived there and who was building there. I felt no need to speed walk or try to make him go farther. We simply enjoyed the fresh air and getting our blood flowing.
I said no to dessert on a Sunday afternoon. I didn’t want any right then. I didn’t second guess my reasons. I didn’t wonder if ED was winning. I simply didn’t want any when it was being served. That was my decision. That was all me.
I had a Bunny Tracks Waffle Cone at Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor. I didn’t have the fat free ice cream or the sorbet or the low fat fruity kind. I had Bunny Tracks. I ate the whole thing because I was hungry for it. No guilt or pressure. It was just ice cream that hit my spot.
I went to Minneapolis with Benj to see a friend perform in a production. We left at noon. Benj said, “Want to stop at McDonalds for lunch on the way?” I sighed a yes in relief because I didn’t feel like packing us each a lunch. Fast food is handy. And I really like McDonalds Southwest Chicken Salad with the spicy full fat dressing. Because fat is a tally. I need those.
I had to bring salads to three different gatherings in the past few weeks. I went to Walmart. I went to the produce section. I bought bags of those Dole chopped salads that come with everything ready to mix up, including the dressing. Those are super tasty and much easier than making an elaborate dish that would ensure ED was eating fat free and 100% healthy. I like easy so much more.
I shopped online because I didn’t have any summer clothes. I had gotten rid of absolutely everything. I worried a month ago about what I was going to wear for the summer. I worried about shorts and capris. But I found my summer style, and it has nothing to do with buttons and zippers. I have redefined my look to fit who I am now. ED ignores me when I don’t wear what he wants me to wear. Get used to being ignored, ED.
I saw a picture, one of those Facebook memory pictures that pops up into my feed. It was a picture of Benj and me after running the Tulip Festival 5k three years ago. I remember admiring how good I looked after that picture was taken. I. Looked. Like. A. Freaking. Skeleton.
So you see, I simply don’t have time in my life to be taking care of ED’s selfish needs. The things he made me believe were life and death important for so long seem pointless and ridiculous now. I’m to a point where I may face a situation in which ED would have demanded obedience to his rules, but instead of obeying, I do the opposite, just because. I want ED to be 100% clear that he’s a road I’m sick of driving on. He’s a book I’m not going to finish. He’s a pan too crusty and disgusting to waste my time washing. But he is persistent, and I am Dutch after all. Throwing out a perfectly usable pan just because I don’t feel like washing it – that’s a foreign concept. That’s grounds for argument and guilt. So now, let me tell you how I’ve gotten pretty good at turning a blind eye to ED’s lies. I will tell you how I have stopped giving ED his way:
To understand how I fight ED, let’s be real. I hope each person who reads my posts knows by now that ED is Satan. ED lies, manipulates, isolates, escalates pride, enhances shame. ED doesn’t hold back any trick to draw me inward and downward where I live in fear, anxiety, and humiliating submission. ED loves everything God hates. ED is Satan. When I understand that fully, I can fight ED. A friend reminded me once that Satan cannot read our thoughts. We assume he can, but Satan isn’t God. Satan can lie to us, but he doesn’t have the power to know what we’re thinking. Only God is all knowing.
I have made the obvious connection – ED cannot read my thoughts. He can see me cowering in fear of breaking his rules, living in fear of being found out by those who know the truth. He can use comparison and anxiety to drive my actions, but he cannot read my thoughts. Just like Satan can’t. So if I want either ED or Satan to know how I feel about him, then I need to say it out loud. And I do. When I feel ED shoving lies in my back door, when I sense him trying to make me feel worthless or out of control, when I know he’s trying to make me dissatisfied with my body, I start talking loud and clear.
ED: You should exercise this morning because you ate cake and ice cream last night.
Me: Shut up, ED. I had fun with my boys last night and that included our dessert. I don’t weigh any more now than I did before I ate it.
ED: Remember last summer, how you could wear a two piece swimsuit, how you weren’t afraid of wearing a swimsuit for a day on the boat?
Me: Who cares if I wear a two piece or not? For Pete’s sake, I’m a 40 year old mother of four. I definitely don’t need to be worrying about what kind of a swimsuit I’m wearing. I am insanely excited for our Saturdays out on the boat. I’m insanely excited for making more family summer memories.
ED: Don’t you wish you could run outside and go as far as you want to, that you didn’t have to listen to someone else tell you how much you can exercise?
Me: I know that what my therapist tells me is truth. I know just as well as she does that the best way to stay safe from you is to avoid the triggers I’m not sure I can handle yet. And frankly, I don’t feel like taking 2 hours out of my day to exercise anymore. I exercise to get my blood flowing and keep me healthy and strong. Forty-five minutes accomplishes that. Two hours would harm me, not help. And I don’t have that time to spare for pointless activity only meant to appease you.
ED: Don’t you wish you looked like you did 6 months ago?
Me: Actually, no, I don’t. I finally know that I don’t. I looked like a skeleton with skin. My eyes were flat, my cheeks were sunken, my hair was limp, my body was sick. Now I feel strong and healthy. My mind is focused. I have energy. I have patience. I have time. I never want to look like that again. And that is not a lie. That is truth.
ED: But you know . . .
Me: ED, I am shutting you up, shutting you down, shutting you in a dark dungeon with no key. Leave me alone.
ED: But you . . .
Me: ED, I hate you. You stand for everything I hate. I want my mind filled with whatever is pure, holy, noble, trustworthy, right. You are none of those things so I will say it out loud over and over: Go away.
ED: But . . .
Me: ED, Take a long hike off a short pier. I want to enjoy this day, not spend it fighting your worthless lies.
ED: Bu . . .
Me: ED, I’m done with you. You’ve had power for too long over me. I’m over you. I’ve got truth on my side now. You don’t measure up.
ED: . . .
Me: ED, God is more powerful than you. And He’s got my back. Always. He doesn’t rule me by fear. He rules me in love. So, ED, go away. You are not wanted here!
It works every time. I’ve spoken to him out loud while I’m driving, when I’m walking into Snap, when I’m looking in the mirror. I spoke out loud to him this morning in fact. He tried to get me by throwing fear in my face. I didn’t speak to him in my head where he can’t hear. I spoke out loud. I called in my God for reinforcements, and as always happens, ED took off. He can’t stay when he knows he’s not wanted. He can’t stay when he knows I’m standing by my God. He can’t stay when fear turns in to power in the cross. ED can’t breath in the same space as God rules. So I speak God’s truths out loud. And ED runs. Every single time. I’m aware that ED still lurks. His dirty pot may still be on that back burner, but I’m not about to salvage the leftovers. Before he can even get his foot in the door, I’m flinging words that stop him in his tracks. ED can dish it, but he sure can’t take it. Ha ha, ED! You are a spineless, worthless, meaningless pile of leftover oatmeal destined for the garbage disposal. And I love watching you go down the drain.
This is power in knowing ED’s limitations vs. God’s omniscience. This is power in out loud. This is power in voice.
(Oh yeah, ED reads too.)