I’ve not shied away from the truth that ED demanded absurd amounts of exercise from me on a daily basis. ED compelled me to exercise 2, 3, sometimes 4 hours a day. I didn’t feel “safe” to eat unless I had exercised exactly what he wanted me to exercise for that day. Ridiculous.
In treatment and the months after, exercise scared me. Running scared me. When I ran with ED, he always told me to go farther, to push harder, to burn more calories. I pushed myself to exhaustion, starting at 4:30 in the morning and not quitting until 7:00. Saturday and Sunday mornings were even longer. And then later in the day I’d have to do more – go for a walk or do an exercise video. (Side note – you will NEVER get me to do another exercise video for the rest of my life.). ED poked and prodded and I did what he told me. I was like a donkey strapped to a cart, pulling the load until I was told I could stop. Notice what I just called myself if we’re going to use the King James Version of it. Mindlessly accepting the abuse because I didn’t know any other way.
Until I did.
I had a healthy amount of fear of exercise in the days after treatment. I believe God gave me that fear, or at least the proper amount of respect for exercise, so that I could gain back a healthy perspective of it. But he didn’t create us to live in fear. I needed to relearn what balanced exercise is so that when I ran or exercised in general, it would be because I wanted to, not because I was told to.
This is where I am today and where I struggle to not live in that fear. I love to exercise. I love to run. I love to push myself. And I am truly honest when I say the thought of burning calories never really crosses my mind when I’m working out. But I do fear my motives sometimes. I worry that ED is still pushing me rather than me deciding for myself. Do I really need to exercise today? Does it really matter if I walk instead of run? Do I really need to push it the last 5 minutes? Why am I going an extra half mile? Why am I doing what I’m doing?
I think, I really think, it’s because that’s who I am. I like to push myself. I remember me before ED. I remember when I started running in college. I ran because I wanted to see if I could. My very first “run” was from my house to the railroad tracks and back, no more than a mile. I almost passed out from that mile, but that short distance springboarded my love for running. Everyday I ran I pushed a little harder. I ran with my friend, and every time we went out, she would finish 2 blocks ahead of me. That didn’t discourage me though; it motivated me. I pushed myself until I could keep up with her, until I could sprint the last block, until I could go farther. I remember the first time I ran 6 miles. Four friends and I ran it together just to see if we could, and we celebrated when we finished. ED was not in my life at that point. I loved to run ED-free. I loved to push myself ED-free. I loved to see what I could do when I set my mind to it, ED-free. This is who I am. I am a self-motivated, determined, sense of accomplishment junky.
That’s not ED. That’s Rhonda.
When ED came around, he fed off of who I am and distorted it. Satan knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t manipulate us in ways we’d never expect. He manipulates us by playing on our desires, our passions, our personality traits. He knew how to imbed himself in my life by using what was already in me. My desire to see what I’m capable of. My passion for running. My personality that thrives on a challenge and the determination to accomplish it.
So how did my ED thrive?
He thrived on my desire to see if I was capable of following insane rules. On my passion for exercise to the excess. On my personality to accept the challenge of maintaining an unmaintainable image. The more I realize the truth of this, the angrier I get. He took what God created in me and made it wrong. And now I don’t trust my own God-given gifts and personality. Which in essence means I don’t trust God and I live in fear. Fear gathers strength when I second guess God’s work in me.
I must be careful of Satan’s manipulation by trusting God’s design and living into His grace. He created me just as he wanted me. And every day my responsibility is to move closer to his love, to be more of who he created me to be. Being a child of God is a great privilege. I will rest in that knowledge that he takes me as I am and sees who I can be and leads me toward my finish line.
I do love to run. ED can’t take that away from me. It’s my gift to use appropriately with a little, or a lot, of help from my Creator. God wants our best. And he will equip and enable and flourish. Satan distorts. God realigns. Trust in that.