one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

Check Engine Please October 29, 2012

“It’s going to be a process. I’m not fixed, but I’m trying to do the right thing one day at a time” Josh Hamilton

Two weeks ago, I was cruising along in Little Red, belting out some Adele and thinking about how cool it would be to have an English accent (instead of this Cincinnati/Kentucky twang I’ve got going on), when, all of the sudden, a horrible thing happened. There, flashing ominously in an orange light on the dashboard was the most dreaded part of any driver’s day…the check engine light. I’ll admit it, it wasn’t unexpected, but it still frustrated me to know that something was wrong with Little Red. Little Red is a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix who has been through a lot. She’s survived a 55 MPH collision with a Ford F250, repeated interior flooding and a small collision with the family mailbox…ok two small collisions with the mailbox. But never once have I given up on her. There was always some kind of fix or repair to make everything right again. I immediately called my cousin, a mechanic, to see what he could do to repair her. We scheduled for me to drop her off in two days. The following day brought a new set of horrors for Little Red. It was around 80 degrees that day, and the windows needed to be let down in order to prevent the car from turning into a solar cooker. When the window button was pressed to bring them back up, I heard the motor burn out and the windows refused to budge. Wonderful, but also not the first time this has happened (rather it was the fourth time a motor has burned out in her windows). Oh, but then, even better news, it thunder stormed that night. Luckily for me, I live in an area in which it is perfectly acceptable, if not mandatory, to duct tape a garbage bag over a missing window.

As I was taping a garbage bag over her window, I got to thinking. If I treated my body and cared for my body as much as I cared for Little Red, imagine how healthy I could be? Even when Little Red was completely smashed by that pickup truck, I knew everything was going to be ok. When the check engine light came on, it was a warning that Little Red could break down if I don’t take better care of her…so what did I do? I took her to my cousin’s to get repaired. It seems odd to me, that I can put so much faith and trust into a man-made hunk of steel and plastic (but mostly plastic)…but almost none into to body that was purposely, wonderfully and fearfully made perfectly by the Lord. My body has survived a lot: years of abuse from ED, self-harm and the effects of the decisions I’ve made while under those two influences. But my body never gave up on me; it just kept right on living and carrying me through life waiting for me to figure everything out—with the little orange check engine light flashing in the background. My body never gave up faith and trust in me, no matter how many times I tried to show it that I may not possess that same faith and trust. My body knew that there was always another day, another hour, another minute to repair, recover and renew–more opportunities for healing and living. My check engine light has come on several times warning me that I was/am close to needing repair, but, each time, my body has persevered. I need to stop ignoring this light when it comes on in my life. I need to learn to appreciate my body for what it does for me, and stop punishing it for what I think it doesn’t.

Little Red didn’t throw in the towel when the check engine light came on, she didn’t run to ED looking for comfort when the pickup truck failed to stop in time, she didn’t use any negative coping strategies when the window motor burnt out and the window wouldn’t go back up…no, she just kept on. Much as my body kept on in spite of all its been through. I must remember that my body deserves the same kind of treatment that I give to Little Red. I must pledge to pay attention when my body turns on the check engine light as a way to assess what is currently happening and find a way towards health. I promise myself that from here on out  I will remember just how awesome my body is, and even though I may not always acknowledge its work or like its appearance…it serves a purpose, and that purpose is life. And as long as I’m alive I will continue to fight ED and regain the body and mind given to me by the Lord. Because, really, how awesome is life?

I used to have a picture of my dashboard here, but wordpress ate it or something…but, whatever, here is the text that was underneath it.

Over the RPM dial is the Josh Hamilton quote I have embraced as to how I think I should view life: “I live by a simple philosophy: nobody can insult me as much as I have insulted myself. I’ve learned that I have to keep doing the right things and not worry about what people think.” Over the engine temperature gauge is a note from a friend that reads “You are important”. I just like having little reminders in unexpected places that encourage me to keep fighting.


3 Responses to “Check Engine Please”

  1. Kaity Says:

    I love this. You’re writing makes me feel completely inadequate…in a good way. 🙂

    • Kaity Says:

      And by “you’re”, I obviously meant “your.” *Hangs head in shame*

      • rheasofhope Says:

        You’re ridiculous Kaity. I love your writing. You have such amazing thoughts and views on life and I am so glad you share them with me (and the wordpress public at large). I miss you lots and love you tons!

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