Part 2 – Domestic Violence and Eating Disorders

I read this post on SheLovesMagazine, one of my favorite online Christian publications. As I read Marissa’s story, I heard the echo of my own. Listen:

I met my abuser at church. We were both attending seminary, headed into full-time ministry. I was an ordained elder in my denomination and a Bible college graduate. I’d studied Scripture, debated theology and had been involved in church and ministry for as long as I could remember.

I met my abuser within the walls of a Christian home. I bumped into E.D. in the halls of my church, hung out with him in my youth group. I saw E.D. in safe places and good places and at first his words were mild, gentle, simple advice. “You could be healthier if you ate less. You could be much more perfect if you were a little stricter with yourself. Just work a little harder.”

Being a “Christian” was easy, for the most part. I even knew all the pretty, cliché things to say to those who needed counseling. My life drastically changed when I met … him. He was charming, handsome, smart, funny and going into ministry … everything I ever wanted in a guy. When our relationship turned physical quickly, I was uncomfortable but, for fear of losing him, I went along. Light petting turned into a full-blown sexual relationship and, despite my best intentions, I was fearful of saying that “no” that I’d encouraged so many girls to just-say.

E.D. was easy to follow and easy to love, at first. He made me more admirable and   self-disciplined. When I was with him, heads turned. “You’re so strong! I wish I could be that thin.” When he started to get meaner, I told myself that he was just making me a better person. I was still able to talk about my faith and encourage other people. I was considered a leader.

As we left the parking lot after our wedding, my now-husband was different. He was angry. I did everything I could to help and to make it better. The abuse gradually escalated. The sexual abuse started right away and got to the point where it was happening multiple times a day. Finding out I was six weeks pregnant six weeks after we got married only made the abuse worse.

As E.D. and I spent more and more time together, things began to change rapidly. He pulled me away from friends and family, especially at meal times. He insisted that I workout multiple times per day, even when I began to bruise easily, lose my hair and my thinking became foggy. Like a snowball rolling downhill, things got worse by the day. Soon, I couldn’t even see a true reflexion in the mirror.

Partial bed rest ordered from my doctor was ignored by my husband … I had too many things to do around the house to keep him happy–my homework, etc. No chance to sit still.

E.D. denied the validity of doctor’s orders and my parents’ concern. He demanded clandestine jumping jacks, long walks, white lies about my after school activities (at the gym instead of at work.)

Gradually, I quit classes and my job and became a prisoner in my own home. I begged him to stop yelling at me. I cringed when he raised his hand to hit me and cried when he gripped my arm and blocked the door so I couldn’t pass.

I quit going home to visit during college. Too many people were concerned about me and tried to meddle in my diet and exercise. I quit hanging out with friends. Too many opportunities to eat during social activities. I certainly quit dating. If I were to cheat on E.D., there would be hell to pay.

Eating Disorders and Domestic Violence

This began as one post and grew to much more than you would be willing to read in one sitting. That said, permit me to post three times this week. Don’t miss a day, truth has a long story. 

I had no idea that October was such a popular month. My sister, Rachelle, of WeavingSunshine, informed me that it is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I remembered that it’s Pastor Appreciation Month. I also just learned that it’s National Book Month.

Rachelle, has a broken heart for the lost, hurting and broken in our world. Since she was little, she talked about growing up and teaching in an inner city school. In middle school, she transferred to a school on the poorer “side of the tracks” because she wanted to be a brighter light than she felt she could be going to a Christian school. She has talked about starting an orphanage called Our Father’s House. So when my little sister told me that she was going to donate part of her profits from the sale of her hemp jewelry, it warmed my heart but didn’t surprise me.

I started thinking about domestic violence. I didn’t think that I had any experience with such nightmares. I’m sure I have met a few people with those skeletons in their closets, but I was unaware at the time. However, over half of my life was mauled by E.D. (eating disorder’s) violence. And in treatment, I learned that many of the girls’ stories included years of abuse which led them into E.D.’s arms.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Run Baby RUN

Obviously, endurance is important in a marriage. You’ve got to survive the honeymoon, then the seven-year itch, then the kids and dirty diapers, the moves, the financial catastrophes, the football games and shopping trips, the burnt dinners, the in-laws and late nights without courtesy phone calls.

For many of these posts, you have endured my cloaked complaints about the ups and downs of marital bliss.  I can tick off the idiosyncrasies that I have endured but I haven’t humbly given credit to my husband’s endurance.

A prime example of his endurance and patience is our recent road-trip back to our roots in Oklahoma and Kansas. Patrick drove 20 hours each way. He stopped every 2-3 hours for my pathetic bladder. He allowed my dog to climb up, back and over the seats when he wanted to sit in my lap. He let me pack home twice as much stuff as I packed to begin the trip. And he barely complained at all!

Have you ever considered how you have benefitted from another’s endurance? I’m not just talking about putting up with you (that may or may not be a chore). Patrick and I have prospered in direct proportion to our parents’ endurance. Both of our parents’ are still married – my own just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary! CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU, DAD AND MOM! All of our grandparents honored their wedding vows well over 6 decades, till death parted them. Now, I easily run to the arms of my mom or mother-in-law with full assurance that they will advise to the preservation of my marriage – not to simply tickle my ears.

I have been noticing and admiring endurance in many aspects of life, recently. My sister, Kelsey and her husband have embarked on a long blessing that will require great endurance. I introduced you to Kylie , in November. Doubtless children demand endurance!

My youngest sister just got engaged to one of the most fantastic men. She endured a long, sometimes long-distance dating relationship while she waited for God’s perfect timing for the marriage. I’m sure these last few months of waiting for the date to arrive will seem to stretch on forever, but it will be worth it!

What are you enduring? Is it painful? Is it in high hopes of a wonderful future? Is it worth it?

As Christians, our high calling is to be Christ-like. Endurance is an indisputable requirement to imitate our savior.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

It will all be worth it.