Recovery is Possible!

Beauty for Ashes: Finding God in the Depths of My Eating Disorder

First came funnel cake and cotton candy, then a cold bathroom floor–after a harrowing ER visit, I knew I had to change and surrender my life. 

Trigger Warning 

This article contains discussions of eating disorders, including detailed descriptions of bulimia behaviors and body dissatisfaction, which may be triggering to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

 

That Day at Six Flags

It was the summer of 2006, a hot day in Dallas, and we spent it at the iconic Six Flags Over Texas. My son, only seven years old then, had been counting down the days while I meticulously counted every calorie I ate. I had to prepare, get ahead, and cut back weight since there was nothing about carnival food that was “safe to eat” to me. My eating disorder made me believe, without any doubt, that I must create a calorie deficit just to be allowed to enter an amusement park. 

 

What was supposed to be a fun day with family became a battleground of tempting treats that taunted me, turning my basic hunger instinct into my biggest nightmare.

 

My fears came true while at the park. I had planned on having just a turkey leg (without the skin – more calories to avoid) but when my son asked me to share a funnel cake with him, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t want to take away from his experience, so as we munched on a few bites of cake between the Taz Tornado Swings and Batman: The Ride, I knew I was in trouble. 

 

My mind screamed at me, “Why didn’t I say no; this is so many calories; this will make me gain a ton; well, I have messed up now and might as well eat whatever!?” The spiral had begun. Right after, I ended up getting my own funnel cake. Next came lots of cotton candy.

 

That shared funnel cake turned into what I deemed a controlled binge. My mind was in a trance, my body craving more, but those around me thought I had just loosened up my dietary restrictions and was enjoying the day. 

 

However, it was only a matter of time before the self-loathing reared its ugly head and my self-imposed consequences for the day’s slip-ups became inevitable. The drive home that afternoon felt like an eternity. If my fullness was uncomfortable, my self-criticism was even more relentless. 

 

“I just need to make it to my bathroom,” I thought.

 

Home

As we walked through the door, I announced I would take a long shower. As I went to my knees, bent over the toilet, and put my fingers down my throat, tears flowed from my eyes. I felt like I had no choice. The urge was beyond my control, although there was a part of me that didn’t want to stop because just the idea of keeping all that “horrible” food inside of me was more than I could bear.

 

The next thing I knew, I was waking up to see my son standing over me. His little glasses fogged up by crying, he asked, “Mom, are you okay?” As I tried to pull myself up off the floor, I said, “Yes, I am okay,” and I wiped splatters of vomit from my chin. I was very dizzy and couldn’t stand. My partner at the time rushed in, put us all in his truck, and floored it to the emergency room.

 

Hospital

While hooked up to an IV, I looked over at my son. He was so scared, and I thought, “What am I doing?” That is when the nurse came in and said they might need to keep me overnight because my electrolyte imbalance, coupled with dehydration, was of great concern. 

 

Of course, I blamed the heat and rides at the amusement park, but something told me the nurse was not buying it. I told her I couldn’t stay overnight because I had to fly out of town for a huge business meeting in the morning. I remember her words, “Honey, you don’t have a choice. You need to stay.”

 

What followed was catastrophic to me. I had to call my manager and tell her I was sick – which this self-proclaimed workaholic never called out sick. 

 

“Would she know?” 

 

At that moment, I wasn’t just worried about looking like a bad worker, but looking like someone who needed help. As my deepest fears about people knowing the extent of my illness were being amplified in real-time at the hospital, questions flew through my mind.  

 

“Would he figure me out?”

 

I had to call my ex-husband to come and pick up our son, and as soon as he saw me, he took one look and begged me to stop what I was doing to myself. My secret was no more. 

 

I had plenty of time to spend with my racing thoughts that night. 

 

My Surrender

The next day, I found myself home alone. I finally decided to eat something for the day, so I headed over to grab my Weight Watcher Point guides to start calculating possibilities.

 

“Today is a new day, and I can never let that happen again. I must stay in control,” I said to myself. The word “control” seemed to ring more loudly than it had in the past six to seven years. 

 

Putting down the guides and returning to my bedroom, I suddenly went to my knees beside my bed. At that moment, I cried out to God. I had never done anything like that before. My mom taught us to “say our prayers,” but growing up, we never read the Bible or went to church unless it was a holiday. 

 

I remember shouting through uncontrollable tears, “I cannot do this on my own. If you are there, please help me. I surrender.” It was then that an incredible peace filled me. I had never felt anything like that in my life – and still haven’t. 

 

I wiped my eyes and stood up. For the first time ever, I walked over to my computer to find help for my eating disorder. Even admitting it to myself was immense.

 

Entering Recovery

After reviewing some of the first websites to come up, I started trying to grasp the idea of needing to go away for a while. One of the more promising residential treatments was in Arizona, where I was supposed to be at that very moment for a business meeting. How ironic! Then, I found Dr. Annette Colby.

 

Dr. Colby’s website was modest, and she worked out of a side office of her home. She didn’t accept insurance and required two-hour sessions per visit. 

 

These factors made me slightly doubt her, yet simultaneously I felt incredibly drawn to her for some reason. I felt God had brought me to her website. So, I picked up the phone and called to make my first appointment.

 

My Life – Changed

That day, not only did I find a therapist who would help me heal and recover from my eating disorder, I started a new life with the ultimate Healer. 

 

The year to come was not in any way easy. I found myself often asking God why he wouldn’t just take my eating disorder from me. I didn’t understand. It was only later that I realized going through an intense eating disorder and the journey of recovery was part of my life’s plan.

 

I had no idea that I would one day walk beside others struggling. God gets all the glory!

 

His Will would never put you in a place where His presence could not sustain you. And ALL things can be used for good – beauty for ashes.

 

In Love & Light

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