I’m thinking I’ll stop describing my weeks as being “hard,” because that kind of seems to take away from the “hardness” that they are. How do I describe harder than hard?! This week, again, had it’s eating-disordered challenges. My weight was up on Monday, and I was praised. It was back down on Wednesday, and I was “un-praised,” or however you want to say it. It’s continually a battle. On one hand, I say that it’s not about the food, nor is it about the weight, but on the other, so much of it is. Even though the root of the issue doesn’t stem from either of those things, they are the two things that I’ve learned to use in order to make myself pseudo-comfortable. I refuse to say that they make me comfortable, because the detrimental effects that both have on my health is certainly not a life that I’d be able to sustain for long, and definitely wouldn’t classify as comfortable. Nevertheless, the restricting, the compulsive exercise, the weight-loss, the rigidity, whatever facet of anorexia you want to zoom in on, there’s a false sense of “comfort” that it’s provided me with for years now. It’s my own form of self-soothing, just like a baby has its blanket, or a toddler sucks on its thumb. Other people have similar problems, I know. Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, etc. are unfortunately, not uncommon in our world. The major difference though, is that I have to eat to live. So not only am I having to learn how to not use food and exercise in one way, I’m also having to learn how to use it in another way. It’s been compared many a time in E.D. treatment programs to an alcoholic being expected to recover while also having one drink a day, every day for the rest of their life. That isn’t the way recovery programs work, and there’s a reason for that. The easiest (and most effective) way to handle an addiction is to go through the withdrawal phase, and then reintegrate back into life without the substance, whatever it may be. No programs (at least that I’ve been told of!) encourage patients to immediately reintegrate the things that have ruined their lives, in moderation. And that is where the greatest challenge in eating disorder recovery lies.
Today was supposed to not be a blogging day. I told myself (and my mom, actually!) that this weekend I would not blog. I needed to focus. The end of my three week (yes, that is four times the speed of the typical course) anatomy class, Bio 233, is ending on Friday, and I have both a midterm (on Monday) and the final (Friday) that I need to be preparing for. There’s not much room in my brain to be processing and dealing with emotion right now. Which, is interesting, considering “not dealing with”, or “stuffing” emotion is what I’ve been working on not doing during the last five years I’ve been in treatment for anorexia.
It became pretty clear early this morning that the course of my day wasn’t going to go quite the way I’d like it, though. I’m learning to deal with that. In the past (during my darkest periods), I had no tolerance for an unexpected change in plans. If something came up, be it an unexpected time of celebration, or a devastating time of mourning, I didn’t allow for that “wiggle room” in my schedule. Not where food was concerned, obviously — I had to stick to what was safe, my routine — but also where emotions were concerned. I just didn’t allow for it. I refused to let feelings in that would make me uncomfortable. Eventually these would boil over and be expressed in some way or another…whether it was taking it out in anger on my mom, or an intense E.D. “cleanse” to rid myself of the terrible way I was feeling, or by sobbing uncontrollably…you get the idea. It wasn’t a good cycle. It wasn’t a sustainable cycle. It certainly wasn’t a Godly cycle.
Scott Night’s (whom I referred to in my last entry) real name is Sam Day. He was a great source of inspiration and motivation to me in my fight against anorexia, as well to many others in my community, and I believe around the world. He passed away early this morning after a six-year battle with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, at 15 years old. He fought his fight valiantly and hard all the way until the end, and it has been incredibly humbling and heartbreaking to walk alongside his family on the journey that they’ve endured the last six years. Harder for me than the passing of Sam, is the grief of the family he leaves behind. There is not a doubt in my mind that he is running free in heaven right now, celebrating with Jesus, free of all the pain he’s experienced, and the toll that the cancer took on his young body. For him, I am happy. As his mom put it on their Caring Bridge update, “He is free.”
For his family, I am heartbroken. It is really, really hard for me to wrap my head around this kind of a loss. It’s not dissimilar to another loss that our community suffered last fall. On October 6th, Nathalie Traller, a girl with a tenacity for life and character I can’t even put into words, passed away after a three-year fight with another form of Sarcoma, ASPS (Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma). She was 16 years old.
My mom and I laid in bed, grieving together this morning. I’m not going to say that I never question my faith, because I know there have been times that I have. I whole-heartedly believe God’s word to be true. What I question, more often than not, is why things happen the way they do. I’m going to save writing about that for another day (frankly, because of time; I really do need to study at SOME point!!), but my mom and I talked about it thoroughly. My questions were intense, and they were also real. I told her that yesterday as I drove home from Corvallis, each time a semi drove by me in oncoming traffic, the thought crossed my mind of, I could so easily end my life if I just veered to the left a bit. Why should I not do that?
I know what suicidal feels like, and that’s not how I’m feeling, or how I felt when I drove home yesterday. But still, I’m left wondering. What is the point? Why endure this type of pain, when the ultimate goal is just to get to Heaven, where we’re living eternally with our Father, with no more pain and no more suffering?
I imagine that the first thing Jesus said to Nathalie and Sam the minute they walked through Heaven’s gates was, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That’s the way the two of them lived.
And really, that is all I want out of this life. I was reminded this morning, as I thought of the testimonies that both Sam and Nathalie lived while they were here on this Earth, that getting to that place doesn’t come easily. They went through a lot. We’re talking years of chemotherapy, of putting toxins into your body that make you feel worse, in hopes that they ultimately make you better. Years of scans, lab tests, blood draws, urine samples, emesis bags, IVs, surgeries, amputations (Sam lost both one of his legs and part of his other leg’s foot), hair loss…the list is never ending. Ultimately, their bodies gave out on them, but they got the greatest reward of all. They are now experiencing eternal life with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
They did what they didn’t want to do, because it was what they had to do.
I cannot live my life the way Jesus intends if I’m engaged in my eating disorder. It’s as simple as that. The actual changing of the mentality and the behavior may not be simple, but the “question” of whether or not I can kind of do this recovery thing halfway, if I can just “half-ass” it, for lack of a better word, which the E.D. will often try to convince me I can do, can stop right at the door. Neither Nathalie or Sam could fight their fight halfway, nor would they be remembered for the relentless, God-seeking, God-fearing, and endearing children that they were, without fighting that fight with everything they had.
That’s what I want.
So to Nathalie and Sam, thank you.
Thank you for being an example to me, and I know to so many others, of what it means to fight with everything you have. To do what you have to even when you don’t want to. Even when it is physically paining you, even when it doesn’t make sense, and even when all you want to do is hide away and turn the other way. Thank you for being you.