Chasing Freedom

I Saw You. And I Knew. I Was You.

By November 21, 20134 Comments

sad-silhouette-1080946-mI saw you at Whole Foods today.

I noticed you pretty quickly. The clothing you wore, the way you held yourself, the meticulous way in which you ate.

I wondered if you had an eating disorder.

I watched you out of the corner of my eye as I reviewed some work on my laptop. I lost sight of you as I packed my things, stopping at the restroom as I left.

There, I saw you, going into the handicapped stall.

Then I heard you. You were quiet. But I knew.

I knew because I’ve been there. I had an eating disorder for 14 years.

I saw you. And I knew.

I spoke to you in the dining area later, after I struggled to find my card. I told you I had an eating disorder for 14 years. You replied that you had yours for 11 years, and you loved it.

As if it were a pet or possession. Or a lifestyle choice.

You took my card and turned to leave, and I followed, searching for words. I asked if I could say one more thing. You paused and I told you that Jesus loves you and wants a different life for you. You thanked me and left.

I have a different life now. And I remember vividly the moment when everything changed.

I was in LA almost 15 years ago. I had been “in recovery” for over 4 years, continuing to practice eating-disordered behavior while receiving treatment. I thought in that moment, I could live the rest of my life like this.

Suddenly, I keeled over in pain and weakness, as my muscles cramped and stomach revolted. And in that moment, I had clarity for the first time.

Something inside me quietly said, You will die if you keep doing this to yourself.

My treatment team and my friends had been telling me this for years. I finally believed it.

I also came to know Jesus a week after that moment in LA. After three more years of struggling, I became was willing to do the work needed to have a different life. With the strength that He provides, I have been symptom-free for over 11 years.

And I wouldn’t trade any of it for a number on the scale.

11 years ago, as you took your first steps toward your eating disorder, I took my first true steps away. I chose life, and continue to choose it every day.

What I don’t know if you can see is that you don’t have an eating disorder – your eating disorder has you. It controls you. It is not a lifestyle choice; it’s a choice to die. It’s a choice to never fully live.

Today, I saw you. I saw your pain, hidden under your baggy clothes and bloodshot eyes. I saw your pale skin and yellow, worn out teeth. But more importantly, God sees you; that is one of His names (Genesis 16:13). He sees you as you are and as He created you to be – and He loves you. He loves you so deeply and passionately that He allowed His Son to die for you, so that you could live a different life.

You don’t have to hide behind your eating disorder anymore.

It’s OK to be seen.


Healing the Fractured Self, Lee Blum

Bulimic and Ashamed, video resource

Breaking Free, book resource by Beth Moore

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Brynna says:

    I see these girls too-at the gym, around campus, “eating” at resteraunts, etc. Having been in their shoes for 10+ years it is always so clear to me what they think they are hiding from the world. I commend you for your response. For me, committing myself to recovery/treatment only 18 months ago (and just reaching six months of no behaviors)-I find my reaction when I see someone who is struggling varies. Sometimes there is jealousy (why do they get to still be so thin?), sometimes my heart breaks to see the bondage they are in that I am now free of, but often I get frustrated and mad at the girl I don’t even know. Mad that they are hurting themselves and those who care about them and frustrated that they haven’t reached a point of wanting to work and do anything to get better.
    Maybe it is because I see my old self in them. I realize that for 10 years I lived in the chains of ED, and didn’t see the hurt I caused myself or those around me. But now that I know there is hope and life out there, that full recovery is possible-I want others to see that as well. Maybe next time I see a person who to me seems to have a flashing neon sign over them saying that they struggle with ED-I’ll be able to at least pray for them instead of having my self-centered little party.

    • KB says:

      I can so relate to your article, and to the comment posted by Brynna. I am thankful for you eloquent bloggers; your articles and even replies to articles help me to see more clearly what my own struggles are, and make them harder to deny, to myself.

    • I remember when I re-read a very popular autobiography of someone in recovery and for the first time, though, “This book is heart-breaking” rather than “Why wasn’t I ever that sick?” I realized that I was really experiencing healing and sometimes more importantly a necessary change of perspective.