This week has had me confronting a lot of ignorance as it pertains to eating disorders as well as a trying session with my therapist.
Let me begin with the fact that my mother does not believe I have an eating disorder, and thinks I am making it up. We had to following conversation while shopping for groceries in Meijers the other day.
R: Look mom, they have turkey burgers on sale.
M: Your father would never eat those.
R: Maybe we can trick him like the time we got Christin (my cousin) to eat the deer meat chili we made.
M: She probably went home and threw it up. *note: my cousin does not have an ED, nor did she purge after eating our delicious venison chili…she was only mildly upset we tricked her, but definitely not engaging in eating disordered behavior*
R: Yeah, that’s not funny. *Then I went off to look for baby things for my nephew to get away.*
Also, this week I had a really rough session with my therapist, that, suffice it to say, left me in tears as I exited her office. Which, I am certain, looked really great to the people I passed in the hallway on my way out of the building. I cried my car in the parking lot, but soon pulled my act together because I had to be to work in half an hour (with work being 20 minutes away). At work, there is a boy we will call Taylor (who is 8) who I have known for a long time, and with whom I have a good rapport. He was wearing an American flag bandanna because he had just come from square dancing at his school. Being the fun/slightly antagonistic person I am, I got Taylor to wear the bandanna on his head like a do-rag (do they still call them that anymore?). I then proceeded to joke with him about his involvement in a motorcycle gang and asked him to show me his tattoos. He pulled up his sleeves and jokingly pointed to freckles indicating that they were his tattoos. I pulled up my sleeve to show him my actual tattoo, and asked if we could still be friends if we are in rival motorcycle gangs. He laughed and, as we settled back into our play dough, my 80-year-old co-worker (we will call her Virginia) asked about my tattoos.
V: I thought you had one on your ankle. I didn’t know you had one on your wrist.
R: Yeah, I had the one on my ankle done three years ago, and I got this on two years ago.
V: That’s what I thought. What to they mean again?
R: *showing the wrist tattoo* This says ooo-do-gee, it is the Cherokee word for “to hope”.
V: Oh, are you Cherokee?
R: Yes, 1/8th. I got this tattoo as a way to memorialize my Cherokee Grandfather and as a promise to myself to never give up hope in life.
V: What about the other one? The one on your ankle. You told me once, but I forgot.
R: That’s the symbol for the National Eating Disorders Association. *points to NEDA symbol* See, this side is like half of a heart, and this side looks like the curve of a woman’s body. It is sending the message to love your body while educating others on the mission of the National Eating Disorders Association.
V: Right, because if you eat too much, it can do bad things to your heart like having a heart attack. That’s why it has the heart on it. Why did you decide to get that anyway?
R: *I was slightly angry that she assumed I ate too much just because I am fat, so I just flat out said it* Because I have had an eating disorder for over half of my life.
V: Oh, I had a friend whose daughter had one of those. You have to be careful not to binge eat. Its pretty bad for you; bad on your body.
R: *anger growing*. I don’t binge eat, actually.
V: You don’t throw up though, do you?
R: I am working very hard to stop purging. That is one of the things I am focusing on in my outpatient therapy. I am also working on eating a sufficient amount of calories a day and exercising responsibly.
V: Because if you eat too much you could have heart problems; that’s why it’s good to get a lot of exercise.
R: *anger at a breaking point* Sure *moved my chair closer to Taylor and started up a conversation about what he is making with his play dough.*
Needless to say, I was upset when I got off work. Again, I got in my car and just let it all out. Fortunately, this time, I was around 9 PM, so I had the cover of darkness to protect my car crying. I turned on the radio to K-love only to hear the most appropriate song come on right when I needed it. It is funny how God sends you exactly what you need when you least expect it. This song is called “More Beautiful You” by Jonny Diaz, and has the message that God made you perfectly, the way He envisioned, to serve the purpose He set forth for you to accomplish while on this earth.
Remember, YOU, yes you, are BEAUTIFUL. You are worthy of LIFE, HEALTH, RECOVERY and so much more. You are powerful beyond what you know, more courageous than you could possibly believe and more LOVED than you may ever know. This song served to remind me that there will be bad days, weeks, months, what have you, in life…but the great thing is, that they will pass. Each struggle teaches you something about yourself and your ability to overcome. Every challenge helps you grow. Stay strong and take care of yourself. YOU are WORTH IT! As the janitor at my job says so eloquently, “Some days you’re the bug and some days you’re the windshield.”
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”