Your Job. Your Title. Your circle of friends and family. Your freedom. Your beauty. Your ugly. Your body. Your role. Your achievements. Your failures. Your significance in the eyes of others. Your health. Your wealth. Your Wellness. Your status. Your disease. Your addictions. Your business. Your pets. Your children. Your artistry. Your creativity. Your systematic approach. Your diligence. Your laziness. Your hustle. Your hope. Your despair. Your anger. Your disappointments. Your depression. Your misperceptions. Your striving. Your seeking. Your joy. Your ability to begin again each day…..
Take it all away until all that’s left is you… Standing still, motionless… Empty handed. Who are you with nothing to show for to anyone whatsoever except the human you see staring back at you in a mirror? That defines you. That person. The one standing, staring and scanning the scenery of the majesty looking back at you holding on to absolutely nothing. What do YOU say of that human? That is the measure of a man ALL day long.
I had the supreme gift of losing everything this year. I lost some of the following: status, purpose, energy, strength, will power, significance, my function as a wife and parent, the ability to drive a car, the privilege of going to the bathroom without being watched, the autonomy in choosing what to eat and when in order to live to see another day…. I lost a lot. I lost a few friends along the way. I decided to lay my job down. I decided to surrender my idea for “health” in trade for the opinion of others, who, at the time could see clearer than myself. I lost the vision for my whole life on the road to treatment for an eating disorder. I lost the actual right to choose much as my Eating Disorder took over every piece of my mind and systematically dismantled my understanding of WHO I was. The peace that accompanied my worth was no longer in reach as ALL THE THINGS that spoke to me about who I was washed away in a vicious storm.
I am an intelligent, 42-year old woman, successful business owner, former nurse, giver to many, friend to anyone, a listener, a talker/sharer, a writer, a creator of beauty and more. I have been clinically tested now (i.e.: brain picked over by professionals) to prove to myself, as my mother would say, “there’s nothing wrong with the grey matter between my ears”. I am what you would call a functional adult. In fact, my brain performs in the 97th percentile. I cringe writing that, however, it’s not out of pride that I say that, rather, it’s shock, awe and self awareness now. I literally lost my mind to the disorder found in a mental “disease”. There was, by definition, no more ease to be found in the way that I processed life. Similar to the words of a former president of the United States: I, Abbie Johnson, lost my mind and a mind is a terrible thing to waste. On a brighter note, I am also a mother to four beautiful children; a wife to one seriously gracious man; and the proud new owner to a Golden Retriever named Ranger (puppies…. can anyone say “therapeutic”? Be still my beating heart). I have MUCH to live for.
An Eating Disorder is like watching an owner with a dog and the owner is in a raging, demanding , angry mood with no love to be found. He masters trickery and has a propensity to convince the dog to live in its cage 24/7. I traded the value of a human’s life full of peace and beauty for the life of a caged animal with a vindictive owner hungry for torture at all hours of the day or night. I was suffering from a disordered mental capacity to choose life and instead be owned by a complete ass-hole (AKA Eating Disorder). I am not proud of this. Nor am I ashamed of this now. I am actually quite grateful if you can believe that. My life of confusion and striving ended the day that God came for me this year the actual day after my birthday in May. God allowed my body to bend and my brain to break and He arrested the destruction in my mind all without taking my breath. He is the miracle. I am His handiwork. He gave me my life back and has been repairing the breach in the security of living a life before His eyes and under His great care ever since. I don’t actually care if you personally believe in God in order for me to write that and to know that you’ll read that. That is my truth. My peace-filled understanding about the God that loved me then and loves me now and completely rescued me from being sent straight to an early grave is the actual air I breathe. His mercy reached down for me. This is undeniable to me. Aside from your opinion of God I do care, deeply so, what you think of yourself when you stare at your reflection in the mirror. This moment where you look into your own eyes without scanning your body or your beauty or any of the things listed up above, tells you a story about the peace in your mind associated with your inherent value.
I have learned now that nothing I do or show for matters more than what the level of peace that lives in my mind towards myself looks like. I am incapable of being a mother, a wife, a friend, a pet owner, a CEO of any job, a writer, a provider, a giver, a lover, a fighter, an overcomer or any other thing whatsoever unless I am that for myself on the inside first. There is an unending war being waged against the peace in your mind and agreement with your value without a hundred things added to it to define you. It’s simple really. We can only give, do, and be whomever we want to be based on the level that we are able to do and to give and to be that for ourselves. That is not arrogance, friend, that is an appropriation of order. It’s non-negotiable. What you believe to be true of God, or simply yourself, tells me a story of who you are more than any achievement in word or deed. I have much to say on this, but more to learn about the power of our thoughts and words and actions and habits and a resulting destiny. I am not skilled, yet, at managing all of this, but I am learning. I am not skilled, yet, at Recovery or Freedom in my mind (though I’m managing it in my body through choice), but I am growing in understanding every day. I’m gaining one or two nuggets of truth that are like bread crumbs falling on the path of freedom to the word: Recovered. I am not there yet, but I will be. I will harness the power of my beautiful brain that was lost to a vindictive owner. I have served an eviction notice to this owner and he (my ED) is every bit persistent. He likes what he likes and wants what he wants. I am not a pawn to this prince of darkness anymore though. He has helped me live in the dark for long enough and once those lights go on and we can see the destruction of a life gone off the rails we gasp. And then we get to work cleaning up the mess that was made in order to provide a safe haven for ourselves once again. This work is not for the faint of heart….. It is simply for the grateful heart. Show me a life that was spared from destruction and I’ll show you a powerful human driven now by true love, only the realest love, for her Savior first, Herself second, and then for those who suffer a depraved mind as well. And so I write…..
All of this to say: I am a human being. I am not an animal fit for ANY cage and worthy of being treated like crap from an awful owner of my mind who craves my literal destruction one synapse at a time. And neither are you. Perhaps you do not struggle with an Eating Disorder. Perhaps you think it has to do with simply wanting to be thin and maybe you’re not all that hung up on your shape so an ED doesn’t make all that much sense to you. Just like you- I want to feel in control of the climate of my life…. the joy, the pain, the happiness, the sadness, the achievements, the failures, the disappointments, the trajectory at large and the way in which everyone perceives me, my efforts and my value. In a way (or two or three), an ED (or any addiction: perfectionism, production, power, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc., etc., etc,), that serves you with perceived peace of mind or sense of control over your worth (as I’ve come to find), is nothing more than an outsourced employee that gains power over you while they were always meant to be under you.
Who are you with nothing to show for to anyone whatsoever except the human you see staring back at you in a mirror? What do you have in your life that tells you a story of who you are outside of JUST you, standing there, with NOTHING to show for? This tells me who you think you are more than any tangible offering. I have been to the mirror of reality. It was a brutal staring contest. I return to that position nearly every day. I will forever be grateful for this look-see. I will forever be changed by having a life spared from death, not just this once, but a few times now. We don’t often talk about those dark moments, but I just did. And I plan to continue to as long as I live. Living in the light of life equals freedom for me now. I have no clue what my future holds, but I do know it does not include hiding my brilliance in a cage. Not for myself, my family, my friends, and to any stranger that may too need a dose of love in a day. He whom the Son has set free…. is free indeed.
Life isn’t easy, but, take it from me, it is infinitely harder when you lose the peace of mind that accompanies the power to choose freedom.
I believe in us. More to come.