Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The slow death of an eating disorder (and the brimming life of much more)

I don't want to be the skinniest girl in the room anymore. 

Is that true? Maybe not 100%. But I can claim that I don't want to want to be the skinniest girl in the room anymore. I also, and this is important for me to admit, am not the skinniest girl in most rooms anymore. And one more thing, maybe the most important;

I'm not a girl. I'm a woman.

A few weeks ago I looked over at my night stand and was struck by the titles of the two books I was reading.
 "Appetites" by Caroline Knapp, and "Thirst" by Mary Oliver.  (incredible books)


Side by side, announcing a new era budding in my inner life. A declaration; "I am hungry! I am thirsty! I want more!" 

And I am, and I do! I could sing in unison with that snotty little girl in Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory "I want the world, I want the whole world!" 

What I won't do is continue with the rest of the song, and say "give it to me NOW". That is what being the skinniest girl in the room meant. "I don't care if what you see is a hollowed out shell, SEE ME NOW."

The world, the whole world, wouldn't be enough. Starving myself has kept me from grieving that. If I deny my need is great, it doesn't magically diminish. If I deny I need at all, it doesn't change the fact that I do. I need, I want, and the more I deny the hungrier I get, and the more willing I am to do ANYTHING in a moment of desperation to be filled. I will replace loving a person with shameless attention seeking. I will stand in someone else's way, I will take what isn't mine, I will beg for what is freely given, I will hoard what will rot, I will covet, and I will want you to covet me.

These days, I would rather say up front, I want all you will offer, and will do my best to let what you choose to give be enough. I will give you what I have free of charge. If I can, when I can, this is what I shoot for. I don't do it perfectly. Sometimes I miss it completely. I'm working on that. 

My appetite and thirst are great. All consuming, like fire really. And I want to burn in such a way that the heat and light bring warmth and life. I could burn very differently. I could burn it all down. Either way I burn. 

I don't quite have this all figured out. I know that demanding my needs get met, and asking for what I need are two very different things. I don't have all the nuances of my own ways of manipulating others into seeing me sorted out yet. A layer at a time gets peeled back. That's all I can take. It's painful. It's humbling. 

And I don't know about you but saying "It's not enough", while some days is freeing, other days just makes me angry. Why not?! Why can't it be enough, why can't I be filled? Why is THIS the plan? I think these questions matter, I think God cares deeply about them. But I'm not going to muddy the waters here, by trying to answer them. 

I do know, and have been comforted by these words, I have heard the heart of God whisper it to my heart, a promise, a call to lay down my anger and let my desire turn into hope. 

"I will be with the one I love
With unveiled face I'll see Him
There my soul will be satisfied
Soon, and very soon"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." 
Ecclesiastes 3:1

I've been hiding lately.
 I know it.

 I feel compelled to say - to tell you - that I know this. Maybe telling you is a way of letting the light fall on part of my arm and feet, from behind the curtain, like the girl in this picture.

I'm still here. 

Most of the time when I hide it's because I am isolating myself, and that is never a good thing. I'm not convinced that is what is happening right now. I think what I am doing is more like a pause. Everything is going fast around me and I'm saying - "Wait. Just wait a minute".

Because the swarming outside makes it hard to hear the tectonic plates shifting way down deep. Subterranean displacement of my soul's earth isn't something I can ignore. I feel it and I react. Especially when I'm busy and rushing and worrying and distracted and have phrases like "should have" and "need to" and "what am I forgetting?" resounding in my mind. Then a small push, in the wrong place, at the wrong time sends hot, blistering, scarring magma spewing all over the people I love. 

Let's face it, my kids get the worst of the hot lava. But right now I think everyone might be feeling more of a deep freeze from me. Silence where there usually is an abundance of curious, searching dialogue. I am not in a place of sharing. I am not sure what will come of the deep earth shift. I feel protective of the places unseen, unknown. I trust the explorer. I trust my God. I trust my instinct. I will slow down. I will pay attention. 

I can't stay here permanently, or for very long. I know the curtain could turn into a cocoon of isolation and withdrawal. It's tricky terrain, which I most likely shouldn't navigate on my own. I'm in hiding, but I'm making a declaration of it, which is my safety net. I'm basically saying, "I'm over here, I plan on coming out, but if I take a really long time, or my arm or toes disappear, could you check on me?"

Friday, August 24, 2012

I doubt it. (OCD)


I am discovering - in the deepest parts of me - so much doubt. 

Most days I wake up to a swirl of obsessive thoughts that spin so tight and lift me off the ground, away from reality. 

I'm starting to uncover how much of my life is influenced by false messages, caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I'm starting to toy with the idea of possibly believing for a second that I really have it. That it's real, that it's biochemical, and that it's not my fault. And also, I'm starting to recognize how many false messages I have believed and entertained (though with OCD it doesn't feel voluntary - but it is.)

It is disorienting to realize that much of what I've acted on or agonized over is a voice that I cannot trust. A voice that is not me. It feels like a part of me. It feels so real. It tells me it is real. It tells me not to trust anything else. It warns me against being duped by people and their lies and their agendas. It tells me the author of this book doesn't really know anything.

Why trust anything so new? Didn't people for thousands of years live without anxiety medication, psychotherapy, brain scans, and all of these many, many diagnoses?

I am starting to ask - why is that a helpful thought? How does the fact that people didn't do, or know something mean that I shouldn't trust or believe it now? And really,  who has some "secret agenda" to help me be free from the tyrannical loop of obsessive thoughts. Thoughts that don't resolve, that torture me. Why shouldn't I trust the kind, helping hand, instead of the claws that dig in deeper when threatened?

There are so many reasons to open my hands to the offering of freedom. But the one that stands out today, the one that lets a little light into my heart is this: I do not want to live my life afraid to be wrong, afraid to believe just in case…just in case…what? In case in 10 years they discover more OCD related brain activity in the Caudate Nucleus than the Orbital Cortex - so what? WHO CARES?

Whether passive or stubborn, staying in this familiar hell is cowardice. I am not a coward. I am not a victim. I can reach out of this cloud of doubt to the hands extending hope, and trust. I will not be absorbed. My doubt, and obsessions don't make me more real. My doubt beats me into submission and steals the air from my lungs. It is cruelty to keep it. I can offer myself more than this. I can trust my God to be more than this. To want more for me than this.

I can leave doubt, and her screaming obsessions twisting in the wind, and walk away. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

no slouching

I've been practicing putting my shoulders back lately.

 I notice, multiple times a day, how hunched over I am. It's bad posture and it looks more attractive and confident to straighten up, which of course matters to me. But it's something else too.

It's like I'm living in a perpetual state of "not really". Not really awake, not really there, not really responsible. And like if I just stay hunkered down, get smaller, things will hurt less. Life will float over my head and I'll avoid getting smacked in the face. If I just stay little, skinny, short, I can fold up my body, close myself off, not be harmed, be harmless.

I have chosen "cute" over impact. And the thing is, I know I could have impact. I've chosen definition from a few select others instead of standing in, and filling out my space, shoulders back. I have felt hollow, less real, desperately aching for a good word from the right person to help me push my chin up. And why am I speaking in past tense? I DO ache for those words from those people. I don't even think that's wrong, I am moved at how God allows, -chooses to have- imperfect people express his perfect love. We are meant to square each other's shoulders when we can. But sometimes we can't. Sometimes an acknowledgement is all it would take, a wave from across the room, a hug, a wink, or just simply eye contact and a smile. And sometimes those things just don't happen.

Yesterday I was looking for those things, and they didn't come. I felt myself grasping inside for a way to make it happen. It wasn't going to. And I felt smaller, unseen, and less real.

And then there was this resistance in me to all the shrinking. A firm, clear "NO. Put your shoulders back." And I did. Again and again I did. I took up some space. I knew what I knew. I let myself see the people around me, and I let them see me.

I still ached for the hug. But I let myself believe that it would have been there if it could have. It's absence didn't have to hollow me out.

It's a lot of work, trying to reclaim my right posture at 32 years.

Standing up straight makes everything else shift too. My brokenness is rediscovered in new places, parts of me hurt that didn't hurt before, weak muscles start to complain to me of how they have been ignored. My body, my heart, speaks in groans. I will still need the embrace when it comes. I will whole heartedly receive it's warmth and steadfast encouragement. It provides sustenance on this journey. I make no apologies for that exquisite ache.

But still, doesn't the God, who's name is "I Am that I Am", make his children, in His image to BE. Without constant affirmation, or explanation or usefulness - we ARE. I hear that whisper to me "You Are".

And not only that, but we are Beloved. Oh - how desperately I want to breathe that in. I "am" because He is. Because He has put eternity in my heart, I am eternal. His breath comes through me uniquely and through you uniquely. This is what reminds me, prompts me, gently nudges me to stand up straight, take up space,  and throw my shoulders back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was round bellied with unborn baby Aiden. We still lived in that little icky house on Fairfax. I still had a job. Josiah was in church daycare 3 days a week, at a daycare that is no longer in business, in a church that I no longer call home.

This time last year my Wednesday morning discipleship group was still going. My Wednesday night recovery group hadn't ended yet either.

This time last year, as my belly grew, so did confusion, resentment, and discomfort in relationships I didn't realize were about to abruptly end.

I didn't know an earthquake was coming, though there were tremors. There were a lot of tremors.

So this time last year, my legs were being trained to stand in the tremors before a big one hit. The earth was going to shift, and people I loved were going to end up over there, while I was over here. From where I stood, I was about to watch my safe haven crumble. I also was about to turn and see that a safe haven had been growing around me during all these tremors.

This time last year, in the painful confusion of the moment, and the moments still to come, I was being cared for. It was as if the physical distance that a pregnant belly creates between two people became emotional distance, spiritual distance. And it kept me from bleeding out when the earth cracked and our minds were stunned and our hearts broke.

This time last year I couldn't have known that the place I would land would be just where I wanted to be. Or that I would be grateful for the betrayal and loss because I am learning how to love now. I am learning how to open this heart to the sweet, tender, and beautiful people who can also be unfaithful, disappointing, and crushing. Both. We are all, always both. We are wonderful. We are not good. We are never enough. And He always is.

He's always enough. More than enough. Where He could have let me fall, or offered a slab of concrete to land on, instead He grew soft grass and expanding fields and mountains and oceans and exquisite flowers and birds and reminders that He delights in my delight and He is not afraid of the quaking earth because He owns it, and he owns me, and He is Love.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Frame (aka: head on fire)

There is a fire in my brain. Sometimes it starts burning too hot and I can't quite breathe and I lose all sense of what I need to do next. I get paralyzed over my to do list.  Not because any one thing on it is too hard. But because everything seems hard when I can't catch the next breath. I have to break it down to the basics. Find some facts to grab on to to keep from floating away.

It's summer. I am 32. I have been married for 11 years. I have a 4 year old and an 8 month old. I stay at home with my boys. I haven't gone to college. I live in Anderson, IN. My parents live in Washington state. As well as my sister and brother. My other brother lives in England. I don't see them very often.

Writing these things steadies my breathing for whatever reason. Strips me of my pretend selves and gives me something to actually work with. Maybe it's a way to cope with the obsessive compulsive disorder I've struggled with since childhood, but only recently begun to acknowledge and understand as a struggle.

I did not imagine my life this way. I thought I would go to school, or join a ministry and go overseas, or do something that felt a lot different than what my day to day life feels like. I was unrealistic in this - never actually making a plan, and then not recognizing that my day to day life is and always has been what goes on inside me. And I've been locked up inside for as long as I can remember.

I talked with my counselor this morning about food, about the cages around me, and it, again. About the shame I'm blanketed in, and suffocating in and that there is more healing to be had still, again. That there is a different frame to look through regarding desire and longing and hunger and pleasure. Her calm against my anxiety; gentle, inviting, steadfast, trustworthy, gracious. His eyes peering through hers, seeing and asking and holding. Love of all loves, Creator of all, handing me this new frame, again.

Out of the vortex that is my history - all my life and needs and relationships and strivings and shame and failing and hiding and excusing and hungering, craving, grasping - I land here. At my kitchen table. 4 year old in the back yard, bare arms needing sunscreen. 8 month old upstairs in his crib making his sweet, might - go - back - to - sleep noises. I land here, June 14, 2012, 32 years old, and I reach for this new frame. Pick it up, test it out, pray I can hold it. Pray I can keep it. Pray I can stop trying to writhe out of my life long enough to start living it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I wonder how many people were sitting in the pews this morning in so much pain they thought their rib cage would crack.

I wonder who was thinking about their lover, with their spouse sitting next to them. Children laid on the alter of their parents sins without knowing it.

Row after row
Family after family
pornography, addictions, anger, resentment, hatred, jealousy, fear, lies, numbing, hiding, bleeding.

I wonder how many were fighting the tears over loss. How many wept openly and weren't seen, touched, comforted and known? How many counting the hours until the next drink? How many silently raging? How many praying they covered their bruises, how many praying their smile would hide what no one can know?

How many, sitting there, standing there, sitting again, holding the cup, holding the bread, holding their breath as if their bodies would fall to pieces right there if they let just one agonized sigh pass their lips?

God we are broken. We are in pieces. Your bride, Your love, we are prostitutes, ashamed and hiding. Afraid, and addicted. We are orphans, rejected and starving. We are prodigals, confused and rebellious. We are gluttons feasting on the rot of our choosing instead of the manna you rain down soft, sure, and sweet. We are crippled, but know we were meant to run. We are dying, yet we are silent. Hear the prayers unuttered and frozen on the lips of your children.

 Redeemer God, forgive us.

Rescue us.

Come for us

Monday, January 23, 2012


letting tears fall
sitting in discomfort
aching, tense, aware
one deep pulling at another

coming back
and again
and again
until new faces
are familiar ones

walking away
not running
stepping back
not recoiling
but still loving

telling the truth
the stark, scary, 
unflattering truth
the moving, beautiful
redeeming truth

saying "I'm sorry"
"I was wrong"
"forgive me"
letting it sit, and breathe
even when you are still angry 
even when it's not returned

knowing it won't be the last time
hoping it will be less often

fearing without cowering
standing back up
when you do
opening hands
that have been fists

trembling in plain sight
and still speaking
my God, my God, my God

This is brave

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A start...

It seems like there are billions of other blogs that probably look so similar to this. I keep trying to think of an interesting way to start mine, to set it apart. And since there is nothing brilliant or inspiring coming to mind, I keep putting it off. So this is me, not putting it off anymore.


Lately the best way for me to express...whatever...is through poetry. So...be looking forward to some of that when I get brave enough to post it.

Right now, (of course) my 3 month old is getting annoyed that I'm not paying attention to him, and my 3 year old is running around without any underwear and I'm not sure why. So on that note, just keep coming back, next time maybe no one will be crying at me, or my family might stay clothed without needing my supervision. Probably not, but whatever is going on I will be writing about it, and usually it's amusing. Ok, I've put the baby off too long and he is giving me the lip! There is no denying the lip.