I believe that God gives us struggles so that when we’ve persevered--when we’ve wandered through the desert and reached Living Water—we can turn it into a ministry. In the early days of June 2011, I was coming out of the desert and began writing a series of posts called ‘Hungry For Healing’ about body image. It was my therapy, but I wasn’t ready for it to be someone else’s. I didn’t have the guts to publish it and honestly, I’m not sure if I have the guts to hit that button now, either.
“The body holds meaning. When we probe beneath the surface of our obsession with weight we will find a woman obsessed with her body is expressing a serious concern about the state of her soul.” (Kim Chernin, author of The Hungry Self: Women, Eating and Identity and The Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of Slenderness)
I feel like I should backtrack. This obsession, these toxic thoughts about my body, started when I was a child.
My sister has always been thin. She was popular, beautiful, and always had a boyfriend.
When we would shop, the clothes would always fit her. Never me.
When my brother had friends over, they would always ask him about his “hot sister.”
My grandmother would suggest I “go for a walk.”
The unpopularity, the tight-fitting clothes, my brother’s dumb friends and my grandmothers remarks only relayed one message to me: You’re fat.
And so it was, throughout my entire adolescence.
I experimented with fad diets and would lose a few pounds.
The root of the problem, though, wasn’t in food—whether or not I was eating it, or keeping it down.
No, it was deeper, nestled into the core of my soul and shredding my self-confidence one day at a time.
Then, in the birth of my collegiate career, I met a guy.
It was one of those relationships that was strictly friends. He was amazing and cool and way out of my league.
But I wanted to be in his league. I just wanted him to notice me like I’d always noticed him, so I started dieting.
I became obsessed with exercise and counting every calorie. I weighed myself religiously, sometimes three times a day.
It worked. In four month I had lost 25 pounds and dropped three pant-sizes.
My roommate would occasionally ask, “Are you eating enough?”
My friends would remark, “Autumn, you look great!”
To me, “Are you eating enough?” and the compliments of how “great” I looked were all the encouragement I needed to keep doing what I was doing.
Other people were noticing, and in my head that meant one thing: he would too.
I appreciate your encouraging feedback. Please know that my spirit is no longer in this dark place. These posts were written last spring/summer, but I believe there is healing in sharing. Even if pushing Publish yesterday made me want to vomit.
*parts 3-5 to follow