My pulse quickens. I know this because I can feel it radiate in my hands as my pale fingers grip tighter around the black leather of the steering wheel. My breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. My attempts to regulate it with breath practices learned in yoga class do nothing to slow it. I want to scream, but I know it will not help the situation. I want to escape, but I am trapped. I am in a car wash.
Yes, I realize this is a very intense—if not ridiculous—reaction to being in a car wash, but hear me out please. Although I have been driving the same car, Little Red, for ten years, I have never once washed her. Coming from a background of limited means, I could never justify spending money on a car wash (or spending the money on water to wash it at home). I simply relied on rainstorms to wash Little Red. Last week, however, Little Red had become Little Casper due to the excessive amounts of road salt used by the Ohio Department of Transportation. I decided to splurge on an $8 car wash because I am kind of a neat freak, and Little Red’s appearance was driving me bonkers.
I pulled up to the car conveyor belt timidly, as I was sure I was not going to properly align my tires and therefore drive wildly into the abyss of the car wash. Panic began to settle in as my car, in neutral, and under the control of the car conveyor belt, started the journey into the dark recesses of the car wash. Suddenly, soap coated my windows with opaque green foam; obscuring everything outside the car. I was petrified that I would hit either the car in front or behind me due to not being able to properly see. As my car crept ever so slowly through the soap, the water shower and the drying room; I began to understand why I was having such a severe reaction to a mundane errand. It is simply this, I was not in control. Nothing that occurred during that car wash was, in any way, under my direct control. That is what terrified me. This simple car wash forced me to confront my fear of a lack of control.
I have always been one to be “in charge”—the leader. I thrive on being in control, and that has trickled down to my ED. For so long, I have been trying to control my life through my ED; severely restricting food intake, abusing laxatives, and purging. I thought that if I could just control that aspect of my life, everything else would fall into place exactly as I had imagined. Wrong. What I ended up happening was a disease that, in an attempt to gain control, has stripped me of all control. While I still thought of myself as the one in power, it was ED who decided when/if I ate, where I went, with whom I associated myself, how frequently I purged, how long I would have to exercise in penance for eating, when I went to bed, and when I awoke the next morning…among so much more. In looking for control, I lost all semblance of it.
What I learned in the car wash was that it is ok to not be in control all of the time. Although I panicked, and was sure something bad was going to happen to me while I was not in control, everything turned out fine. I had to trust that the car conveyor belt would do its job and keep me safe. And, the wonderful thing is that it did. I experienced what it was like to not be in control and *shock* nothing terrible happened (despite what ED would lead me to believe). For so long I have been trapped by ED; trapped in the darkness of the car wash of life. I have learned I need to trust in God and His ability to help me through this disease, because there is an end to this disease. I will continue fighting ED’s control. I will stand up to ED and her demands. I will battle for recovery and see it through. I am learning to trust my strength.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.