CS Lewis and Complete Freedom from Anorexia

I hereby designate C.S. Lewis “My Favorite Author”. But then, maybe by simply reading Predatory Lies, you figured that out before I did.

This morning, I got an email called, CS Lewis Daily. Never one to disappoint:

Teachers will tell you that the laziest boy in the class is the one who works hardest in the end. They mean this. If you give two boys, say, a proposition in geometry to do, the one who is prepared to take trouble will try to understand it. The lazy boy will try to learn it by heart because, for the moment, that needs less effort. But six months later, when they are preparing for an exam, that lazy boy is doing hours and hours of miserable drudgery over things the other boy understands, and positively enjoys, in a few minutes. Laziness means more work in the long run. Or look at it this way. In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing which it takes a lot of pluck to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you funk it, you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger. The cowardly thing is also the most dangerous thing.

It is like that here. The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self—all your wishes and precautions—to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way — centred on money or pleasure or ambition—and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.

When I was fighting for freedom from my eating disorder, I ran up against this conundrum.

Could I not retain “myself” or the habits I had established that afforded me some imaginary modicum of control?

Could I give up counting calories but continue obsessively exercising?

What if I was willing to get treatment, as long as I could weigh myself everyday?

Could I continue to pursue the self-centered desires of my heart and keep personal “happiness” as the great goal of my life and at the same time surrender my will, my life, my eternal salvation to a God that I claim to love and trust?

And this is what I found: Just like cutting the grass can keep it short, but will not produce real, nutritious wheat; managing aspects of my eating disorder might keep me alive but would never result in freedom.

To mature and blossom in freedom, I must necessarily uproot the  grass and allow Christ to remake me–to make all things new. The change must be complete, a destruction of the old to allow the new to take root and flourish.

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Learn to Love the Skin You’re In … by Amelia

Another thought-provoking article by a wonderful writer, Amelia, at The Bottom Line:

We can’t change our skin like snakes do; so, learning to be comfortable in our own skin is vital. We have to love ourselves, or else others will find it hard to do it for us. The message about “loving our bodies” is worn out. Yet, people aren’t convinced. Maybe it’s because the message about “skinny being the only sexy,” is louder.

Numerous people struggle to love their bodies—a large percentage of them are teenagers. An article on Huffington Post states, “About 40 percent of 10 and 11-year-old girls in the U.K. want to lose weight. That number rises to 54 percent in 12 and 13-year-old girls and to a stunning 63 percent among 14 and 15-year-olds.” While boys are less concerned about body image, they’re not all exempt.

Finish this post here … 

What People Really Look Like, by Dale Favier

This article was originally posted on Portland Home Massage, written by Dale Favier. I was stunned by his simplistic approach to the cure for body dysmorphia. It’s painfully obvious, this beauty he sees in every body on his table. I hope you enjoy his words as much as I do.

Let’s start here with what nobody looks like: nobody looks like the people in magazines or movies. Not even models. Nobody. Lean people have a kind of rawboned, unfinished look about them that is very appealing. But they don’t have plump round breasts and plump round asses. You have plump round breasts and a plump round ass, you have a plump round belly and plump round thighs as well. That’s how it works. (And that’s very appealing too.)

Read the full post HERE

How to Have the Perfect Body

“Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe.” Mark Victor Hansen

If I’m really honest, for much of my life, my actions have indicated a belief system that I’m loathe to admit. During the years I battled anorexia, my behavior proved that I believed if I were thin, if I were the most athletic, if I had most willpower to resist food, if I had the perfect body, then I would be happy. On the other side of those painful years, I can confess to you – I had it all wrong.

I just returned from a two week visit with my family. The first seven days were spent with my in-laws. Mike and Julie are vivacious people, ravenous for the joys of life and abundantly generous with all their blessings.

Within hours of our arrival, they were taking us out to lunch. For the duration of the week, we feasted on gourmet coffee, ice cream, homemade dinners and market fresh veggies. We dined on the patio, in the living room, in front of the television and at favorite restaurants.

My in-laws bear the brand of the truly happy. Their faces are ruddy and sun-kissed. Their arms are well employed. Both Mike and Julie are genuinely healthy, brimming with life.

I had it all wrong. Having the perfect body doesn’t make one happy. Finding joy in Christ, in relationships, seeking and exploiting the pleasures of life, leads to a healthy, happy body.

For the second half of our trip, my husband and I visited my sisters, their husbands and my one-year-old niece in Texas. Toting Kylie around, waking her in the morning, cuddling with her on the floor and chasing her around the living room obstacles brought me unsurpassed joy. But what fascinated me the most was her insatiable interest in everything I ate.

“Bite, bite!” She pleaded. No matter what was in my hand or where I was eating, she found me and asked, “Try, try?”

In the course of my visit, Kylie and I shared protein shakes, hotdogs, frozen yogurt, iced tea, juice, chocolate bars, jicama, pretzels, cheese, apples and oatmeal. Never once did  she pause before devouring a treat and wonder, “How will this affect my body? Will it make me fat? Did I exercise enough today?”

I was also mesmerized by Kylie’s pleasure with her own body. She was pleased that her fingers can grasp my hand, thrilled that her arms can fully encircle my neck. Kylie was so happy that she is finally long enough to reach the doorknobs and all of the cans in her mother’s pantry.

I had it all wrong. A perfect body will never bring me lasting happiness. But happiness, contentment with the good gift of life that God has given me, that will ultimately result in the body that God perfectly, uniquely created for me.

“Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results, but first you have to believe.” Proverbs 17:22

You can read this and other posts of mine at www.havenjournal.com

Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, Missing Peace Chapter 7

I honestly don’t remember how long I saw Kathy Hoppe. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to play her. She seemed able to read my mind, sometimes to even know how I felt before I could identify my emotion.

Kathy knew why I wouldn’t eat, she said. I was trying to control things in the family. I felt overlooked and less important, talented, special or desirable than my sisters. There was too much pressure to perform as the “mature oldest daughter” that everyone thought I was. I was lonely, living in a small town having been homeschooled for so long.

On the physical level, she prescribed a nutritionist and instructed me to write down everything I ate. “And I don’t want you to do more than 30 minutes of exercise each day.”

I simply had to be smarter to beat her at her own game. Controlling Kathy’s opinion of my recovery became a new challenge, a new high. I snuck jumping jacks in after bedtime, in the dark, in the bathroom. I walked the long way around things, always stood and bounced my knee with purpose and passion.

“I really think we’re making progress,” She would say one week, while perusing my list of 2000 calorie days, only about half of which was true.

But my body betrayed me. My weight continued to decline, albeit slowly. I had taken up jazz dance because it put a time limit on my official workouts, which placated my parents and therapist. I had to get knee pads for some of the moves because my bones dug into the hardwood floor. We had one dance that finished with us laying on our backs. I got bruises on my spine.

Pretty soon Kathy started making threats too.

“I’m suggesting that Abby try an inpatient program,” Kathy told my parents during a powwow session. “What we’re doing isn’t working. Abby, I’m afraid you’re not being totally honest with us about what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising. In an inpatient program, they can monitor all the variables constantly.”

October. A month before my most dreaded holiday of the year. Our family of six left the house under a steel colored sky and drove mostly in silence toward Laurette. Laurette is the only inpatient treatment facility in Oklahoma for eating disorders. Generally, it was a psychiatric hospital; their program targeted at anorexics and bulimics was brand new.

I was numb walking through the heavy sliding glass doors behind my parents. Dad drug my small suitcase. There must have been tons of admission paperwork, but I don’t remember anything until the supervising nurse led us to my room.

All the walls in the facility were light yellow, a dull lifeless color. Fortunately, one wall was replaced by windows looking out into well cultivated gardens, with a goldfish pond.

It felt like a surreal tour of a haunted house, as the nurse led my family, her clueless captives, toward the room that was to be my whole home for the next 30 days. Doors lined the way on every side. They locked from the outside with a reverse peephole. A three digit number marked each room’s address.

“I need to go through your suitcase,” she said.

“Why? We packed according to the directions in your literature. She only has one soft-sided bag,” my dad informed her.

“Thank you for being attentive to the rules, but I need to go through it and check for anything dangerous.”

Apparently, there are numerous life threatening items that we use everyday. I watched helplessly as the nurse broke the glass out of my cosmetic compacts. I felt my dignity crack and crumble as well. She confiscated my shoe laces. Finally, she stood.

“OK. You can put all of your things in that dresser over there. After that, you will need to say your goodbyes so the doctor can do your admissions checkup.”

My eyes blurred and my hands shook as Mom and my sister, Jennifer moved all my t-shirts and jeans to the dresser. Rachelle held my hand and watched with me in silence.

Daddy drew our family into a group hug and prayed.

I don’t know what he said. My heart was saying, “Don’t leave me. Do you hate me? Won’t you miss me? How can you abandon me here? What’s going to happen to me?”

Laurette was not for me. The eating disorders program was underdeveloped so they lumped all seven of us eating disordered patients into the group therapy sessions with schizophrenics, suicide watch patients and drug addicts. I recall one high school age boy telling about a wacky drug trip he’d taken before being admitted. Another man threatened to beat the counselor with a chair.

For 72 hours I was on phone restriction. But the moment I was released for my first phone call, I held the receiver with a death grip.

“Mom, Dad,” I choked on tears. “Please don’t leave me here. I’ll do anything. I don’t belong here.”

They must have still loved me. They came to rescue me.

The Ghosts of Columbus

Why did she have to ask that? I stared at the blinking cursor in the little box at the bottom of my Facebook page. I had only wanted to leave a message. I wasn’t prepared for this conversation. I knew it was coming, But Lord, I’m not ready!

Are you still running? It blinked again. How on earth to answer? What would she think of me? I have a reputation to uphold!

###

If you’ve been reading around here recently, you know that my husband and I just completed our PCS (the Army’s version of a move) to Columbus, GA. We’ve been here before. In 2006, we moved into a teensy-weensy, one bedroom apartment off of Moon Road. Partly by accident and mostly by deceiving myself, I found myself part of the local running club.

Surely, I can handle it, I told myself. I’m making such good friends here in the running club. All I have to do to “stay recovered” is eat more. 

And I did make such good friends, such very good friends. We didn’t stay in close touch when I moved away, but every now and then we bumped into each other on Facebook and said, “Hi.”

So I thought it was only appropriate to let them know I’m back in town and I’d love to see them again. Hence, my initial message to K, “Hi! How are you? I’d love to meet for coffee and catch up!”

“Love to see you again! Are you still running? We could meet for a morning run!”

How to answer? No, I don’t run much anymore. Leave it at that?
No, I can’t handle running emotionally. I tend to relapse.
No, I started doing other kinds of exercise, so I’m still fit! (justification)

We managed to sign off with a mutual invitation to coffee – sometime. But as I got in my car to go run a couple errands, my nerves stood on end.

When we lived here before, I got into crazy long distance running. I lost weight, almost back to what I weighed before my first hospitalization. Now, every main road, every side street, every gravel turn, bridge, public park, and roadside bush (for bladder emergencies) has a memory.

And they’re not all good memories. Even though I made great friends in the running club, in all honesty, that’s not what it was about for me. Committing to see the group on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday for whatever distance, gave me an excuse to exercise beyond what was good for me. When I won a race, completed a marathon, or was congratulated for my endurance, I pushed that much harder.

Relapse picked up speed.

Exercise addiction…is a chronic loss of perspective of the role of exercise in a full life. A healthy athlete and an exercise addict may share similar levels of training volume — the difference is in the attitude.An addicted individual isn’t able to see value in unrelated activities and pursues his sport even when it is against his best interest. (American Running Association)

Most streets in Columbus, GA, are haunted, for me. This first week in town, my dog andIMG_0656-1 I have made it our mission to banish the ghosts that lurk in Britt David Park, Flat Rock Park and on the Riverwalk.

We’ve walked their trails, stopping at every puddle, funny smell and potential pee-pole. We’ve sat on the rocks and watched other people running. I wonder what their motivation is?

There are still a lot of ghosts here. Like I said, I traversed most of this town in my running shoes. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that these memories scare me a little.

From my journal:
There’s a hole in my heart as I drive around Columbus. It’s such a weird feeling, like a cavern that’s been covered over, sealed and the healing of that gaping hole has felt secure and relieving and good. Or a wound that once scabbed over, healed and remains a white, filmy scar. A bone healed, that again bears weight and mostly, the pain is gone. I feel debris and water slipping beneath the crevices and trying to re-open the hole in my heart. Scar tissue pulls and growth hurts. The weather here is just right, making the bone ache, and I see how and where I was broken once before.

And here is what Abba said:
Abby, those days are long gone. See, not only have I changed your body, I am changing your desires, changing your vision of beautiful.
There is no one like me who has doused you with life. Even in accepting your limits you feel more free than ever before. I have brought you far love. Rest and enjoy wide open spaces, green pastures and fresh water. Love, Father

The Old has Gone, The New has Come

A misconception about abusive relationships is that the person in the relationship is the only one who suffers. Sometimes, that’s where conventional therapy and intervention fail, addressing one person, searching for one cause, praying for one solution. For me, lasting peace did not come until I admitted the impact that my relationship with Ed had on my whole family. I had to listen to their hearts, absorb their pain and practice giving and receiving forgiveness.

To read more of this story, find me here: at Haven Journal. This is a series of three pieces, all of them have been published by Haven. I hope they encourage you.