Recovery: Taking Back The Ground Which The Enemy Has Stolen
by: Rae Smith
Choice is one of my favourite things. There are choices to be made at every second of every day. There are millions of choices we can choose from and if we don’t like a particular choice we can choose to try another one. Every choice has a consequence that will either be good, bad or maybe it’s on the fence. And at the end of each day when we are in the silence of our bedrooms the happenings of our days echo in the silence we find ourselves in. Ultimately, the only one who really suffers or succeeds by the choices made throughout the day is the one who made them.
I spent five years of my life believing that it was impossible to survive. I believed that regardless of how hard I fought I would never be able to escape the death grip anorexia had on my life. The fight was too hard because I was convinced that I was not strong enough to overcome the chains that bound me so tightly. My hands were clenched and my knuckles white as I clung to the destruction of the eating disorder believing that it was the only control I had in my life. At the end of the day when I was alone in my room the self-hate and destruction of the day echoed out into the infinity of silence that had become my life.
The manipulation of the eating disorder held me at gun point by using my fears to keep me from becoming who I was meant to be. Alone in the night I heard the disorder tell me I was unfixable, not good enough and a lost cause. In the waking hours of the morning I heard it tell me I would never be anyone important and there was no point in recovering because I wasn’t going to do anything with my life anyways. At the flip of a switch the disorder would be there singing sweet nothings in my ear telling me that it loved me and that the only reason it is so hard on me is because that is what true love does. In the next breath it would tell me that in order to become something, in order to be the best and in order to prove the world wrong I would need to minimize food intake so that I could maximize my quality of life.
Things seemed pretty desolate. There was nowhere to run and I couldn’t escape the dysfunction that consumed my life. The list of things I needed to do to please the world was long and dreary. It was mixed with unattainable standards and photoshopped beauty constantly reminding me that I would never measure up. When I turned my cheek I heard bitter words from a disorder that used abuse to keep me from becoming who I was meant to be. My soul was bruised, my hopes limp and the dreams that lingered were broken into a million tiny pieces.
At the age of 19 things were looking pretty dim. I had already watched my friends graduate the year before while I stayed behind catching up on the school I missed while in the hospital. All of the promises the eating disorder had made to me drained my life and there was nothing left to withdraw. I was bankrupt with nothing to show for my life except emptiness. I had made excuses for the eating disorder and defended it as I strived to obey its laws. I ignored doctors, refused love from my family and rejected friends in order to house the eating disorder in the beat of my heart. And yet, here I was after five years of obedience and the disorder had abandoned me. If there was any good in an eating disorder then why did I find myself at the deepest rock bottom of my whole life? It was here as I sat at the bottom of all rock bottoms that I realized I had to make a choice.
As I knelt beside my bed praying, bitter tears flooded out and hope surged in. It was here in the solitude of my room I surrendered my pain at the feet of Jesus and choose to fight for my life and recover at whatever cost. I knew the road was going to be hard, I knew that it involved struggle and challenge. I knew that it was going to require that I open up about the pain of my past so that I could finally start living in the present. I knew that I was going to have to make choices daily so that I could knock out the eating disorder and reclaim my life. I decided to let go of my bitterness and I started to cling to the promise that I was made for a purpose. It was in these moments that I was reminded that I deserve the place I was given in this world and that no one has the right to take that away from me. With renewed faith and courage I pressed forward in the opposite direction that changed the course of my life forever.
It has been three years since I choose recovery and made the decision to make choices every day to fight the good fight. The most important thing that I learned on this journey is to never let the lies of the enemy derail me from the amazing purpose I was created to fulfil. The eating disorder is a liar and a manipulator and it will do anything to prevent you from knowing and embracing the truth that there is a bigger purpose for your life. I believe for five years that I would never go to university, I would never be able to do anything meaningful with my life and that there was no way that my broken and shameful past could ever be used for good. Even though I was told by my teacher I would never go to university, I got into every university I applied to and I am about to finish my fourth year in Social Work at York University. The disorder told me every day I would never do anything meaningful with my life and yet for the past three years I have been an advocate for recovery, raised awareness on my campus about eating disorders, I have been working in a leadership position at York for three years and I am about to start my placement with Eating Disorders of York Region in the fall. The eating disorder lied over and over again telling me that my shameful and broken past would never be used for good but God has used both the good and the bad of my life story to encourage other young women who are struggling with eating disorders and body image.
I make choices every day and sometimes it’s hard. But standing here looking at where I have been, where I am and the possibilities of where I am going I can see why the enemy would want to destroy me. My life isn’t extravagant, I am a normal person but within these past three years I have made an impact in this world because I am living my purpose out loud. I am doing everything that the eating disorder tried to prevent me from doing and that is the most amazing part about recovery. It’s the freedom and liberation to do everything you were told that you would never do because with recovery whatever was once impossible becomes possible.
If you take one thing away from this piece please let it be this: the enemy wants to distract you at whatever cost from the purpose you were made for. It knows you are going to make a difference in the world and that you have the ability to do amazing things. That’s why it tries so hard to convince you that you can’t do anything and floods your mind with negative thoughts about yourself. It wants to wipe you out so that the impact you are suppose to make in this world does not happen. Eating disorders are not friends; they are the world’s biggest thief and enemy. We have lost too many talented, smart and wonderful people because the enemy lied and made them believe that their life didn’t matter. There are so many people right now who are consumed by lies and they think it is impossible to turn and go the other way. All it takes is a choice to fight and the battle is already won because the enemy does not stand a chance when its victim decides to survive.
So, I leave with these last words of encouragement. Do not dwell on the time the enemy has taken from you because when you make the choice to fight the future is brighter and more amazing then the past could have ever been. Take it day by day, moment by moment, and choice by choice. Remember to always persevere. Bad days are going to happen but persevering through struggle of any kind is an opportunity to give hope and perspective to those who think that it is impossible to survive; even if we are the ones who think that it is impossible. And most times after the worst storms pass we realize we could have never become who we are today without the struggles and challenges of our yesterdays. You are here for a purpose, you are going to change lives and you deserve to experience the wonders and beauty that this world has to offer. All it takes is a choice to survive, the courage to fight and the faith that the journey of recovery is going to lead you to where you are meant to be.