I lie in bed one night praying to God to end my pain. I ask him, “Please either let me die or take this eating disorder away from me.”
I was in recovery from my anorexia for about a year and a half. But I unfortunately relapsed and found myself back in treatment. Six months later, I am fighting to find the light in life again, but tonight it just seems too hard. I miss my sick body. I miss fitting into children’s clothing. I miss feeling numb. I miss the compliments about how thin I am. I want my old life back.
So, tonight, I ask God, “Please give me the ability to go back. Let me turn back time, and this time, I promise I’ll be grateful and content with that body, the body I had before treatment.”
Brad Paisley has a song that says, “Make no mistake, every prayer you pray gets answered, even though, sometimes, the answer is no.” I truly believe that God listens to my prayers, that sometimes he answers them and sometimes he doesn’t. But on this night, I wish he would send a sign, any sign, that the end of my fight is near.
They say in eating disorder recovery that things get harder before they get easier. Once we start eating normally, we start to feel all the emotions we have been numbing. As I enter this hard phase of recovery, I feel overwhelmed, sad, scared, and anxious all at the same time. I feel tears well up in my eyes for no reason other than that I’m exhausted from fighting this voice in my head telling me I’m worthless, this voice that tells me I don’t deserve a happy life, this voice that says, “Skip one meal. It won’t hurt you.”I am Eve, and this voice is the snake tempting me to give in, to take a bite of the forbidden fruit. Eve did not know that taking a bite of the apple would lead to banishment from the Garden of Eden. I, however, know that taking a bite out of my apple, my anorexia, will lead me down a path of quick demise.
I suddenly feel like Joseph’s brothers, jealous of the colorful cloak I cannot have. I can’t have my old body. I can’t have my old life. Starvation is no longer an option. The thing about Joseph’s colorful cloak is that, without it, he would not have ended up helping the baker, the cupbearer, and pharaoh. I have been very open about my eating disorder, and my hope is that my openness has helped others in need. My eating disorder is like my cloak. With it, I have had the power to impact lives. The cloak was destroyed and stripped from Joseph. I hope my eating disorder will be destroyed and stripped from me.
I ask myself, why do I have to go through these hardships? What have I done to deserve this sentence? The story of Moses and the rock comes to mind. Moses was impatient, and instead of talking to the rock to get water as God asked, he hit the rock. Recovery reminds me of this story. I am at a fork in the road. I can either grow impatient with recovery, returning to my eating disorder, or I can fight and conquer. Impatience seems to be the easier route, but like Moses and the rock, it comes with consequences. A life with an eating disorder is miserable. It’s draining and unhappy and lonely. As punishment for not listening to God on multiple occasions Moses was not able to enter the promised land. I wonder, what if my impatience lands me in the same place as Moses? If I choose to give up, I will not be allowed to enter a world full promise.
In my case, God answered my prayers, and his answer was no. No, I cannot have my old body back. No, giving up is not an option. But he didn’t abandon me. In fact, he answered my prayers thousands of years ago – when he gave the Jewish people the Torah so that I could learn from the lessons of my forefathers. In my recovery, he allowed me turn back time, just farther back than I expected.
I no longer feel so lonely. I feel strong. I feel as if my ancestors fought hard battles and so can I. By saying no to my plea for relief, for the comfort of old habits, God taught me a lesson. I have a choice. I can give into temptation like Moses, Joseph’s brothers, and Eve, but not be able to live my dreams – or I can fight like I have never fought before.
Jourdan Stein is an education major at Drexel University.