The reflection in the mirror illuminates a grossly unattractive, unfit, fat person. One night I purge in the restroom after eating an enormous dinner with friends. Later, I sneak potato chips and cookies into my bedroom and eat both bags when everyone has gone to bed, and then carefully hide the wrappers. The next day I starve myself by ingesting only a couple hundred calories. I think constantly about my body and diet regimen.
This is a story about a monster that sneaks up on the struggling princess. It covertly and subtly destroys her. It began as a diet and a battle with the mirror. Decades later she realizes who and what the monster is…and who and what her Prince is. .....
Seventeen years old, at five feet, four inches, and 140 pounds, society labeled me “chunky.” As women, we’re vulnerable to competitive standards and comparisons. We compare ourselves all the time and come up feeling inadequate. After seeing a photo of myself I agreed, “I look like a whale! I’m going on a diet.” From that day forward I chose what I put inside my mouth. I worked towards a goal weight and lost a healthy two pounds per week.
My parents were proud of me. I was proud of me. Boys noticed me. It seemed I had power over others when they’d ask me how I managed to lose weight. Like millions of other dieters, I liked receiving compliments and praise in my search for approval and love.
My soul craved acceptance. I didn’t have anything in my life I excelled at. I failed at playing a musical instrument. I didn’t date. My grades were average. I didn’t belong to the popular girls’ group…but I excelled at dieting. This kind of admiration is hard to give up. Soon my weight and number of consumed calories became my identity…and an obsession. I’d wake up each morning looking forward to manipulating that day’s diet plan. And I started smoking cigarettes in an effort to cut my appetite.
Then something snapped. Conscious of our weight, my friend and I felt miserable, physically and emotionally, after gorging on left-overs from her parent’s dinner party. She said, “I know how we can feel better and not gain any weight. Stick your finger down your throat until you throw up all the food.” Nirvana! Now I can eat anything I want and stay skinny! This is bulimia. From that day forward, life spiraled out of control. Eventually I reached my revised goal weight of ninety-eight pounds.
After five agonizing years, I graduated from college and landed a coveted sales position in the pharmaceutical industry. My life looked great on the outside. But inside, the battle with this life-zapping monster raged on. Completely powerless over this parasite, my friendships, my work, my entire life, continued to unravel. I gave in to a faceless captor. Every time I purged I swore. “This is the last time.” It never was.
On some days my gag reflex didn’t cooperate. I have to purge this food. I’ll die if I can’t get rid of it. I’ll keep trying, even if I scrape and bloody up my throat, and burst the blood vessels in my eyes. A nightmare of unbound terror, I’d eventually purge the food, but the battle wounds ran deep.
Like a junkie taking a hit of heroin, I had my food binge, followed by a gruesome episode of self-induced vomiting, and then a smoke. The cigarette would burn my freshly irritated throat. Lastly, I’d ingest eight or more laxative tablets to ensure I’d eliminate absolutely everything from my body. Can you imagine living for seventeen years with chronic diarrhea and stomach cramps? I did—all in the name of “body beautiful.” No princess lives likes this. This is self-abuse. For decades I adhered to a set of self-imposed rules based on misbeliefs and lies:
- If you’re not thin you are not attractive, therefore, not loveable.
- If you’re not attractive you will be rejected.
- Being thin is more important than being healthy: ingest appetite suppressants and smoke cigarettes.
- If you eat a fattening food, punish or harm yourself afterwards: run six miles, purge, take a handful of laxatives, or starve tomorrow.
- What the number on the scale reads and/or the number of calories you ingest each day is your identity.
The pursuit of thinness is an epidemic ruining our health and identity. Millions of human beings, young and old, through internalizing the culture’s standards of success, beauty, and love have sacrificed their souls. The biblical doctrine of creation teaches that God made everything good—including the bodies of the creatures he made in his own image. He said, “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10).We need to see how beautiful, special, and unique we are without resorting to self-destructive behaviors. God wants us to find pleasure in him alone. He is our Prince, our rescuer.
God never intended to leave me in the battlefield (my bathroom) with this monster. I opened the door to my heart and asked him to take control, and together we began fighting the monster. After surgically repairing my heart and mind, I eventually healed after twenty years of substance abuse (to alcohol, laxatives, diet, caffeine pills). Recovery is possible with God Almighty. We are restoring my spiritual, physical, emotional, and relational nature to the person God created me to be. Never give up, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).Today I look in the mirror and I see F-A-T, a different kind of F-A-T. Faithful And True to my Lord!
Kimberly Davidson, Author ~ Become a Facebook fan Kimberly posts encouragement daily!