“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
March of 2016 I was tired. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Most of all tired of playing the game I had played for 20 years. A game many women and girls know well. The eating disorder game.
It all started after my sexual abuse and assaults happened. I was 18 when I first made the possibly not so conscious decision to not eat. My best friend was super skinny. She was made with no hips, no stomach, and no extra anything on her.
The guys gushed all over her. My other two best friends at the time were two guys and they were always “salivating” over how gorgeous she was and it made me feel like a complete cow.
I thought many times to myself how they never said anything like this about me. It was always about her. Her long well-proportioned legs, and body. Then, there was me, a pear shape with hips always causing me problems when shopping for jeans because my waist was small but my hips were curvy.
I was by no means huge. At this point weighing just right for my five foot four frame. Right in the target range for my height. The low end really. My best friend who was so skinny moved away, but I stayed friends with the guys and another girl joined our group. She was just as pretty and skinny too.
At 18 is when it became really clear to me to become skinnier. I had always felt fat because one of my abusers constantly called me fat and ugly. This played through my head all the time growing up, and still does to this day. It is part of what I am working through in my recovery.
It was coming up on my senior prom. I thought cutting back on food would make sure I fit into my dress and looked skinny. My dress was a mermaid style dress and it was tight fitting so there was no room to gain any weight. At this point still weighing about the same as mentioned earlier, but I wanted to weigh less and fit into my dress.
It began with me not eating lunch at school. I was in orchestra which met right before lunch, so it was easy to make up excuses. Such as I ate before rehearsal, I’ll grab something on my way to class, or I need to practice (flute/piccolo) for band, orchestra or lessons. It was high school so kids did this all the time. No one knew the plan I was truly operating.
Except in high school social lives revolve around going out to get something to drink and eat. Whenever we’d get to a place to eat and it was my turn to order I’d simply say I was still full from lunch, since these friends didn’t eat lunch with me, or say my parents expected me to eat dinner with them. I drank water and got away with it.
When I got home and mom asked if I was eating with them usually I would say I’d eaten out with my friends or ate enough just a little dinner was fine. So hunting and pecking at my food, or not eating at home, and skipping lunch. Especially anything fattening like bread or dessert. If my mom fixed baked chicken, which she did a lot, I might eat it and satisfy my parents I was eating food.
I lost only two pounds by prom and my dress still fit and I managed to not insult my date to prom too much when leaving quite a lot of my dinner on my plate on prom night.
This continued into college. Once in college it was up and down. For the next twenty years it was either starve or binge eat. I was either “dieting” or scarfing down some delicious sweets to ease my anxiety or pain.
At one point I got down to the lowest weight I should ever be according to my doctors (I was under 107), and then at another point I was overweight. Part of this had to do with medication prescribed by my psychiatrist to deal with the trauma of my sexual abuse and assaults.
After getting back to what my doctors, not me, considered a normal weight I still was never happy. Continuing to either starve myself or binge eat. My system was so messed up it didn’t know how to respond so dieting never worked and because of my on again off again eating my metabolism wasn’t working right.
Sometime in 2015 so fed up with my weight I decided to start cutting out food again. So much so by the time I admitted to my therapist in March of 2016 what was going on I was eating only 700 calories a day. Extremely depressed, and tired, I said for the first time ever regarding my eating, “I need help.”
It was this day which changed my life. I was lined up with a nutritional therapist and was amazed when she knew exactly how I was feeling and why. No one had ever understood me before. My trauma therapist is a guy and he was struggling to really understand my eating disorder because it wasn’t his specialty. He supports me and helps me, but he knew I needed someone who specializes in eating disorders.
I have been seeing my nutritional therapist since March of 2016 and though my weight never got to the point I needed inpatient treatment, it was made clear to me if I didn’t add calories and soon I would be headed there if she felt this course of action was ever needed.
Though I wanted help, I also knew I absolutely didn’t want to gain back any weight I had lost. I liked my new look. This has still been a constant battle. Currently, I’m now eating the amount of calories required for someone my height each day, and I exercise to stay healthy, not to lose weight.
I had a setback recently. Gaining two pounds and it has stayed on me. This I could not handle, so 300 calories got cut from my day. I became depressed, tired and lethargic. Really struggling, it finally dawned on me I was doing it again. Trying to starve the weight off. Once the calories were added back in my depression eased and my tiredness went away. I need those calories.
I am still on the road to recovery. Still measure my food. Tablespoons of this, using a kitchen scale, and I make sure to only get exactly the calories allotted to me. I do not eat out and only have certain things to fix to eat because I know how many calories they have in them.
I do know with God’s help one day together we will beat this eating disorder for good. It will not overcome me, because God is on my side.
Do you struggle with food in anyway? Do you eat when you are down? Do you not eat because you don’t like the way you look? Do you put yourself down because you don’t like the way you look and compare yourself to others?
God wants us to lead healthy lives and take care of the bodies he gave us, but he doesn’t want us to starve ourselves, overeat, throw up our food or anything else you may do to try to help you feel better about your looks.
He loves us just the way we are. He always has and always will.
Trust me, I know how hard it is to accept. I told you I am still on the journey to recovery, but I’m on the journey. Do you need to join me? If you’re eating too little or too much, there are people to help you. Reach out and tell someone and get help.
You can go to: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline to get help if you need it. They have a hotline and chat set up throughout the week.
Join me in recovery.
I know I have a long road still ahead of me in recovery, but I pray You will guide and direct me to a healthy place. Take away my urges to be perfect in man’s eyes, and help me focus on loving You with my whole heart.
© 2017 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.