Today kicks off week two of our "Life With An Eating Disorder series." Last week we heard five testimonials from women who have, in some way or another, struggled with an eating disorder. I want to thank them again for their willingness to open up and share their world. I assure you this is not as easy task. Not at all. I applaud them for their transparency and bravery.
This week we will be hearing from family members and friends of one who has struggled with an eating disorder. Eating disorders effect more than just the person who has been diagnosed. Eating disorders effect the whole family. Friendships too. While in different ways from the one diagnosed, the entire family suffers, hurts and grieves. Friendships are strained. Eating disorders put a distance between those that should be the closest to us.
Wives, husbands, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. . .
Here are their testimonies.
Today we are hearing from a gal named Sara (she asked that all other identifying info remain anonymous). She has watched her sister struggle with an eating disorder for many years, and is willing to share her heart in the form of a love letter. Her letter is below.
. . .
Love Letter To My Sister
Somebody asked me, “What is it like to know a loved one with an eating disorder?” Ironically it is the opposite – I feel like I do not know her. You know all too well what life is like battling an ED. I have no idea. There is a fortress that the ED hides you inside; so far I have been left outside the walls. One of the evil things about an ED is that it tries to convince the person it’s pursuing that the distorted eating behaviours associated with it are shameful. What is the human response to shame? We hide. Rewind to Genesis … the ultimate in beginnings. Adam & Eve are created by God for relationship with Him and relationship with each other. Genesis 2:25 quite clearly reveals “they felt no shame.” A mere 7 verses later “they felt shame” followed in the next verse by the decision to hide from God. So here in this fallen world people initially respond to shame by hiding.
For those of us who love the one hiding inside that fortress we struggle too – back and forth & up and down on the spectrum. We’re frustrated. We’re supportive. We’re quiet (yes that’s it keep it hidden). We’re noisy (pushing our way like a bull in a china shop). We ask questions trying to show we’re interested and we care to understand. We don’t ask questions to show we are not nosy and we respect privacy. It is such a fine line. We want to cross it so we can be re-connected with the one on the other side of those walls, yet we don’t want to cross it and end up alienating and thereby losing what bit of connection remains.
God created people. God gets to define us. My pastor says these words a lot and they have engraved themselves into my mind. They give complete clarity to identity and can improve the perspective of any seemingly hopeless situation. The enemy has no (none, zero) power to say who we are. The enemy has no ability to say that you are worth less … worth less than me, worth less than her. The enemy does not get to identify you as “an ED victim”. In Truth you are a beloved child of God. In Truth you are a beloved sister of mine. This is your identity as defined by Our Sovereign Creator. Nobody gets to change it or take it away.
God created people for relationship with Him and with each other. He yearns for people to turn toward Him and to want that intimate connection that He is passionate for. Similarly, those of us on the outside of the fortress wall yearn for their loved one to crack open that door, let the Light shine into the darkness of the ED’s fortress, and choose to re-connect with us. To help us understand where you are so we can walk alongside you on this journey. Sometimes we don’t express this well or even appropriately. Maybe we express anger, or impatience, or ignorance, or any number of other unproductive reactions. But at our core we just want to love you (and maybe haven’t figured out how to show it) and for you to love us back.
Your Sister Forever No Matter What