I just finished watching the first season of glee tonight (for the second time….) It seems that whenever one of the main characters, Mr. Schuester, comes on the screen I can’t help but gush like a little girl, especially when I see the way he looks at another one of the characters on the show, Emma. In this last episode, he told her that he LOVED her. Ugh.

To give you a bit of context, Emma and Mr. Schue both work at a small town high school together. They start to explore a friendship only to discover that there is an undeniable spark between the two of them.

Emma has had some messy things happen in her lifetime, so as a way to cope with the pain of her past she struggles with OCD and is a total neat freak. In one scene Mr. Schue leans in to kiss her and she backs away. She puts the kiss on hold for the sake of hygiene and pulls out a cleaning kit for her mouth. She is discouraged as she sees that he is confused by this habit which seems foreign and unreasonable to him. “You know I don’t care about that Emma, just let me kiss you!!” he says to her. She backs away and confesses that she knows it’s an ugly habit, but it’s how she copes.

Mr. Schue stays patient with her. His love for her overshadows her “ugly habit.” The more she gets to know Will Schuester, the more her OCD fades into the background of her small town life. Her passion to love him more compels her to start seeking help. With every sweet thing he says to her, the more she believes him. She starts to let go of her OCD that once ran her down to the point of exhaustion, and lets the sweetness of love unwind her into her true self.

I know, I know, it’s only a TV show but, I felt compelled to write about something similar; my journey with my eating disorder. Maybe you can’t see how they are tied together now, but it will make more sense as I continue.

Over the past seven years I have been every weight imaginable, I would lose 20 pounds here, gain 15 over there,  lose another five again, then ten, then gain it all back again.

I started to become obsessed with my weight at 13 after a bad experience trying on bikinis, but even before then insecurities infected my childhood. Growing up I was never, for the lack of a better word, a “swan.” My siblings would tease me because the buttons on my shirt would pop off, I had more than one chin, and my teeth were spread very far apart. To be fair, it was just a cute little awkward stage that every kid has to go through. Nonetheless, this was what I grew up knowing myself to be.

My trigger point, however, was when I finally built up the courage to try on one of the little numbers that so many girls seemed to flaunt in the summer. I stood in the poorly lit changing room, staring at the mirror and soon enough, my little bubble of courage burst. I ran out and the only reasonable thing to do in the moment was to rush to the bathroom. I stared at the toilet, thinking “how does this work?” Clueless, I grabbed a comb out of my purse, pushed it down my throat, and threw up whatever was in me.

I think of that day as an introduction to a six year friendship with a monster.

I became infatuated with my new friendship. I loved the attention it was getting me; I was losing 20 pounds in a month and finally starting to feel beautiful. I had heard of eating disorders before, but this wasn’t one, it was too easy. I never realized how it quickly began to consume my life; the infatuation was rapidly becoming bondage.

Little did I know that I had swung open the door of torture and exhaustion. Six years of therapy, doctor’s visits, throwing up in buckets, woods, public toilets, garbage cans, and closets. Six years of working out after every meal and hiding laxatives in the corners of my drawers. Six years of parents with concern and confusion and siblings feeling like all the attention they should have been getting for good grades was being misplaced into a disorder that had become my best friend. More than my siblings not getting attention, I was causing chaos and broken relationships within my family. But I didn’t care about the cost; I was willing to do anything for it.

GOD THINKS YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL

This was something I was always taught growing up. While I know that it was all said with a good heart, I didn’t really care. This truth alone should have directed me to immediate change, but here’s a shocker: it didn’t. Whenever someone said “God thinks you’re beautiful,” it almost had the opposite effect on me. I would sink a bit lower into my seat feeling ashamed. “I guess I just don’t get God.” The weight I had put on God’s opinion of me was small, so hearing what he thought of me didn’t ignite a desire change.

I had read books and blogs about people being completely healed physically and emotionally from eating disorders, I had listened to people tell me I shouldn’t throw up because I’m beautiful and I had sat through many therapy sessions; but the first real step towards change was when I tentatively stepped towards Jesus and said, “Ok, Jesus, apparently you love me, so let’s see what this is all about.” This was two years ago.

When I made this decision, it was never to get healing from my eating disorder, because to be honest, I didn’t actually want that. It wasn’t perfect; there was no epiphany moment of freedom to be had. I didn’t suddenly realize, “Wow I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

None of the sort, it was the birth of a new friendship. I would sit down with my new friend and explain to him what was going on in my mind, sometimes relating to my eating disorder, and sometimes it was just about the birds in the trees.

We got to know each other, and it didn’t always look beautiful. As I learned, there were a lot of times we disagreed, there were a lot of things I needed to let go of, and a lot of healing I needed to receive. But I continued to let Him love me and that’s what changed me the most. It went from hearing others tell me what He thought of me, to hearing Him tell me Himself.

I would be lying if I said that I stopped making myself throw up right away, but He stayed committed to me through the process. The more we got to know each other the more His opinion mattered to me. My focus wasn’t on getting healing from my problem, but a new friendship that was birthed in its place. The truth started to become my reality instead of a twisted disorder.

I began to see myself through clear eyes. My focus wasn’t on the fat on my arms and I didn’t feel consumed by what fabrics flattered me best. It became more evident to me that none of that actually mattered as I developed my new friendship. There isn’t a magic formula, but I learned that my newfound friend had better opinions than my other one.

I can’t say I look in the mirror now and see a super model staring back at me, but I can say that my view of beauty has changed.  Even tonight I had a hard time looking at myself in the mirror, and then I heard the sweet voice of my love say “My gosh, you are so beautifully made..” It was similar to the way the Mr. Schue addressed Emma. It reminded me of the way she became undone in the sweetness of his true love for her.  I couldn’t help but smile and agree.

 

-Julia L

 

Originally Published on https://julialigowski.wordpress.com