A Bulimic Finds God's Grace
By Kathy Pride,
CBN.com It's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. And in order to keep us conscious of this health risk, contributor Kathy Pride shares her personal battle with bulimia.
The chocolate cheesecake was just too tempting, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist it once I took the first bite.
The texture was creamy as I savored the first taste, slowly licking the smooth confection off my fork. The first taste was followed by another, and then another as I enjoyed the rich chocolate taste. Before long I was whittling away at the cheesecake, evening out the edges until I had consumed nearly half the cake.
I stopped in horror, both at the number of calories I had consumed and at how I was going to answer the inevitable question of “where did all the cheesecake go?” as I was the only one who had had any. I was also horrified that I had once again allowed myself to fall into the trap of binge eating.
There was only one solution to continue the deception and keep my secret to myself. Everyone was busy, so my secret should be safe if I worked quickly.
I opened the refrigerator door and took out more cream cheese, enough to make a second cake. If I made another cake and got rid of the rest of the first one, no one would know the difference. But I also needed to bake something else; why would I be making another cheesecake when I had just made one a day earlier?
But there was still the issue of the calories. Not to worry; I had a solution for that problem, too.
As the cream cheese was softening for the replacement cake, I slipped into the bathroom, locked the door, and turned the faucet on. The running water would mask the sound of my self-induced vomiting if anyone should pass by.
With the water safely running, I first rinsed my hand off so it wouldn’t be so salty when I shoved my fingers toward the back of my throat to make myself throw up. That was always the hardest part; to get the retching going.
But once the retching started, the waves of vomit came one after the other, ridding my body of excess calories. I continued to tickle the back of my throat, my knuckle becoming scraped and raw from rubbing against my teeth, until there was nothing left to purge. My stomach was empty -- but so was my heart.
There was no time to think of my empty heart. What if someone needed to use the bathroom? What if someone needed to come in or was looking for me? I had to clean up the mess, and clean up myself, too. With meticulous precision, I washed the toilet rim and flushed away the evidence. The water still running, I washed my hands and took a critical look at my face. Were there red blotches under my eyes? How many capillaries had I broken this time?
I wiped away the tears that had been forced out, not paying any attention to the emotional cries; I just had to clean up the physical evidence. I quickly washed my hands and face and surveyed the bathroom for telltale signs one more time. I finished my charade by brushing my teeth and dabbing some make-up under my eyes.
Not bad, I thought. Now back to the replacement cake -- and chocolate chip cookies.
So far so good. My secret was safe. I reveled in the challenge of not being caught. I think that was part of the high, part of the thrill of being in control when I was so out of control.
I worked quickly and before long had the cake and cookies in the oven.
The screen door slid open and my niece came bounding into the kitchen. Thank God it’s not one of the adults, I thought. The deception was easier to maintain with a child.
“Whatcha doin,’ Aunt Kathy?” my niece chirped, skipping past me to grab something she had forgotten to take outside with her. She shot me a backward glance over her shoulder as she continued to hunt for the missing item.
“Oh, just baking some cookies,” I answered, pleased that I wasn’t lying; convincing myself I was telling the truth.
“Oh, yummy! Can I have one when they’re done?”
“Sure, no problem,” I answered, glad that she hadn’t asked for cheesecake.
And no one else did either, until the replacement was brought out for dessert that evening served on a glass pedestal, the centerpiece accomplishment.
I had gotten away with my deception, but not before going through the entire exercise a second time, binging and then purging most of the remaining first cake.
Even though this episode happened more than 25 years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I don’t understand how I became bulimic. I suppose it had a lot to do with struggling with feelings of not measuring up or not being quite good enough. I wanted to feel accepted and in control. I liked the feelings of control binging and purging gave me, feelings of a satisfied high that I had control over my body. I could savor the chocolate cheesecake or multi-course meal and never put on an ounce. I even disappeared into bathrooms at nice restaurants to purge when my stomach got too full, and I felt the hysteria of gaining weight start to erupt deep within my soul.
But as soon as I purged, feelings of shame and self-condemnation set in. What would people say if they knew? Would they love me? How could I ever measure up? I never felt good enough, and this cycle of binging and purging only proved that I was a loser. It was self perpetuating.
Despite having parents and a husband who loved me deeply, I felt unloved and unlovable. And I struggled with those feelings for many years, hidden under the mask of accomplishment and education.
Bulimia still occasionally rears its ugly head in my life. There are times when my life seems to whirl out of control, and I can turn back to the cycle of binging and purging to provide a temporary illusion of control, or I can turn to Christ, who is part of my life now. My relationship with Him is an alternative to help me through those rough times. But just because I am a Christian doesn’t mean I am “cured” or that I don’t struggle. And I don’t always succeed. I would be lying if I claimed that. But being a Christian does give me a measure of mercy, grace, and a forgiving perspective. I also get a chance at a new start every day, even during those times I backslide.
Christ wasn’t a part of my life when I first slid into the cycle of binging and purging. I was in control (so I thought) and lived with the theology of self-sufficiency.
I have replaced the self-sufficient theology with God’s Word and find the following Scripture a help when I am struggling:
So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help (Hebrews 4:16, The Message).
But sometimes, along with God’s Word, we also need professional resources and organizations that can help us through. For more information you can visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Copyright © 2007 Kathy Pride. Used by permission.
Kathy Pride is a nurse, patient advocate, parent educator, and mom who loves to encourage people. Please visit her at www.tapestryministry.com.
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