An eating disorder tries to steal my identity, but I must fight the lies and uncover who I am apart from ED

Who I Am Apart from ED

When I first entered recovery, I realized it was hard for me to unravel my personality from the personality of my eating disorder. I had to figure out who I am apart from ED. Was I actually a home body? Shy? Did I really like to run or was that ED forcing me to run? Was I competitive? Did I enjoy crowds? Baking? Teaching? Was I a confident person hidden under ED’s lies about my worthlessness? What was my love language?

Who was Rhonda Joy Van Donge?

I honestly didn’t know. And that was kind of scary. Who I had become in my 17 years with ED confused my perception and allowed doubts to run my thoughts and actions. Who I am apart from ED took work to discover.

Uncovering my own self was as much a part of my recovery as relearning how to eat was. I needed to unravel the lies and knit the truth back together into its proper and freeing form.

Patience and perseverance. These are the keys to recovery.

An eating disorder tries to steal my identity, but I must fight the lies and uncover who I am apart from ED

Be Okay With Being Uncomfortable

I’ve said it before and I repeat – recovery means being okay with feeling uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in a body that’s changing and finding it’s natural shape. Uncomfortable with feeling full, with sitting in that fullness, and in fighting ED’s lies on the regular. Uncomfortable in not feeling in control.

Uncomfortable in not being sure what was your ED and what is you.

Realizations about my own self started sweeping into my consciousness just weeks out of treatment. I began to realize that I didn’t know who I am apart from ED. I realized how tangled my personality had become. These were aha moments for me . . .

. . . when friends who had met me during my time with ED commented about how different I was from the Rhonda they’d been introduced to and gotten to know.

. . . when friends and family who had known me all my life commented on how they saw the “old” Rhonda again.

Be Persistent in Uncovering Identity

Essentially, I had to uncover for myself who I was. So I tried new things, joined new activities, volunteered for committees, went out with people more, pushed my comfort zone, even took a love languages test.

I found out:

  • My love language is physical touch. Blew me away since I had spent years isolating from people instead of reaching out for them.

  • I love running and exercise. ED wasn’t making me do it. He took a passion of mine and distorted it for his own gain. That honked me off when I finally wasn’t afraid to run again.

  • I am competitive. I like to step up to a challenge rather than hide in the background with no self confidence to speak on my behalf.

  • I truly am not a crowd person. But ED took my introverted self and again, like running, distorted who I am. ED distorted my need for solitude as a way to reenergize. Instead ED made me believe I did not need people at all.

  • I may not be a crowd person, but I realized that I do love smaller groups and being one on one. I like conversations with friends that are informal and relaxed.

  • I’m a relaxed planner. When Benj asks me for details on the plans I think up, my answer is usually, “It’ll all work out.” I don’t feel the need for a rigid schedule of well-laid out plans. That’s a far cry from ED’s need to plan every minute of my day around exercise and food.

  • I’m not good with emotions. I don’t speak my feelings well. I don’t open up to others and so assume they don’t want to open up to me. I often consciously remind myself how much the cards and support I received from other people during treatment made me feel so that I can override my need to sweep emotions under the rug and make connections with others.

The point is this: You are not ED, no matter how hard he tries to make you think you are. He hides our personality inside of doubts and low self-worth so that his insidious lies can reshape us into his design. He wants mindless followers.

We need to want more.

An eating disorder tries to steal my identity, but I must fight the lies and uncover who I am  apart from ED

Be Persistent in Wanting Your Identity Back

We need to be willing to know ourselves. We need to be willing to face our faults while also celebrating and using our strengths. We can’t wallow in the weakness and assume we have nothing to offer those around us. We need to gracefully accept that we do have strengths that we can in fact use for beauty. We need to know that we are strong and backed by the Creator of all that is good. We need to be able to accept who we are so that ED can’t make his lies into our reality.

I needed to work at knowing who I am apart from ED. You need to work at knowing who you are apart from ED.

Because you are worth knowing.

Friend, you have so much to offer this world. You can make a difference in someone’s life because of who you are. God created you with a purpose. It should honk you off that ED is hiding your personality so that you live in a fog of trusting belief in his lies.

Do not let him take away your right to be who you were created to be.

Do not let your eating disorder steal your ability to choose joy in your own personality.

Do not settle for doubts, isolation, confusion, or unworthiness.

Do not settle for a muted life. Allow your personality to shine. Allow yourself to work on areas that need work and to use areas that should never be hidden.

An eating disorder tries to steal my identity, but I must fight the lies and uncover who I am  apart from ED

I had to be okay with the uncomfortable work of finding out how much I had let ED hide who I am. Because in the work, I discovered I am made of tougher stuff than ED ever allowed me to believe.

And this I don’t doubt – So. Are. You.

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