The bricks that sit on my chest must weigh a thousand tons because I’m finding it near impossible to inhale my next breath.
The fear that has me checking under beds and in closets again takes me back to when I was five or six.
My eyes glaze over or dart back and forth as I either slip away or go into high alert mode.
Last night I couldn’t go to sleep because I was so uncomfortable in my own body. I tried to crawl out of it, unsuccessfully.
I struggle with body image, and lately, it’s been a raging battle.
Except I haven’t done all that much fighting. I’ve mainly sat back and allowed myself to be consumed with the anxiety and fear and discomfort of these warped thoughts that try to wrap their sticky tentacles around my mind.
Anorexia wrote me a letter:
Amy Nicole Goodwin, tsk tsk tsk. The state of antsy discomfort you’re in right now is just to get your attention. You’ve been failing quite miserably.
You need to drop more weight, you know that, right? You let yourself go the day your thigh gap disappeared. How come you just stopped caring about yourself? Every time you take a bite of something, you’re letting yourself go a little bit more.
You need to wear long sleeves so that people don’t look at how flabby your arms are.
And please don’t embarrass yourself by wearing a swimsuit- spare us all!
You’re essentially just a blob of fat. You’re out of shape. You’ve gained back some of the weight you did such a great job of losing. You’re a disgrace!
The moment you start loving your body, that’s when I know you’re a lost cause. How could you-or anyone for that matter- love your body?
Your fiancé is lying when he says you look good. He doesn’t truly think your body is great. He sees the rolls, the cellulite, the “flab.”
If you can’t see your bones, you’ve got too much padding. Haven’t I told you repeatedly that your stomach simply must rest behind your hip bones!?
I used to be able to see your collar bone, and I’ll admit, you didn’t look half bad. But then you had to start eating again. How pathetic.
15 more pounds- then we can re-evaluate. There is always more to lose. You’ll feel more alive once you surrender the whole “three meals a day thing” and just go with what I’ve taught you before. The feeling of hunger is a sign of success. The longer and more intensely you sense those pains, the finer a job you are doing.
I’ll keep pushing you because someone’s got to. You’re impressionable and an easy target. You’ve bought into my theories; you hang on to my every word.
My opinion of you seems to trump your own opinion, your friends’ opinions, your fiancé’s opinion- heck, even God’s opinion.
I control you. You’ve practically handed me the reigns because I don’t see much fighting going on. This might be my easiest battle yet, if you can even call it that. I thought you’d at least offer me some resistance.
You’ll never be enough, and I will forever be here reminding you of that. Thank you for trusting me with your life and for engaging in all the thoughts that allow me to run rampant.
I can’t promise you how life will turn out for you, but you’re letting me thrive. I couldn’t do it without you.
How long will this be an enemy I come up against!? These lies, these thoughts… the enemy is trying to destroy me and I’ve done a lousy job fighting back. I entered into a state of defeat in my mind, and found it easier to believe these lies than the truth of who Christ says I am.
So what do I do? Where do I go from here?
I know these are lies from the enemy. I know this is the voice of my eating disorder. I know this is 26 years of believing twisted truths about what I should look like, how I should act, and what I should do.
I have to believe that I am in battle right now because the enemy knows that with Christ in my life, I am a force to be reckoned with. I have to believe that the pain is so great because I must learn how to fight the lies and the enemy so that I can be a better leader and servant of Christ.
And, I have to believe that God has not abandoned me here in my state of self-hatred and disgust.
He’s calling me.
It struck me this afternoon that I’m like one of those grumbling Israelites. I’ve started reading through the Bible cover to cover, and I’m in the middle of the book of Numbers right now. In chapter 14 the Israelites begin crying. In 14:2 they say to Moses, “’If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!’ they complained, ‘Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle?’” After I read that, I felt the Spirit raise a question within me- “Did God really rescue you from the depths of your addiction so that you could die on this hill, waging this war? The Israelites go on to say in 14:3-4, “’Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?’ Then they plotted among themselves, ‘Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt.’” With all the inner turmoil I’ve been up against, I’ve found my thoughts paralleling that of the Israelites. Wouldn’t it be better for me to just return to my life of addiction? Then I wouldn’t have to feel this pain. I could be numb. (Such a bogus lie to believe, by the way.)
In Egypt, the Israelites were beaten and practically worked to death. They were deprived, hurting, and had no freedom. As goes the life of addiction. Yet when we are brought out of hard times, it’s easy to forget about the pain and only recall what was good – The Israelites remembered that they at least had food. I remembered that I wasn’t as body conscious or as emotional. We remember what we want to, in order to feel better about a situation.
Moses, Aaron, and some others pleaded with the Israelites. They tried to convince them that the land God had promised was just up ahead. In 14:9 they told the people, “Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
My addictions, my eating disorders, my fears- they are helpless prey when I walk with my Protector and Sovereign Savior.
I give the demons in my life more power than I give God, so it’s no surprise that sometimes what seems like “out of the blue,” I’ll be attacked. I need to be waging war every day. I need to be summoning the truth and promises of Scripture and going to war to fight.
I need to stop indulging in an easy life where I don’t fight. I am left standing without excuse, because I haven’t been fighting the good fight, when it comes to this battle in my life.
It’s easy to forget that death has already been defeated, and that Christ has already won. The longer I hang on to these sins and engage in unhealthy thoughts and choices, the harder it will be for me to accept Scripture as truth. You and I are called to live full, fruitful lives in the Spirit. Different sin battles will continue to surface throughout time, but I’m tired of letting the enemy win. Quoting Shakespeare- “Enough, no more! ‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before!”
I want to go to war. It’s going to start by claiming the promises of Christ and speaking them over my life, even when the lies I’ve believed for so long start screaming. They will only get louder before they quiet down.
It’s still hard to breathe. But, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. I need to step out of the cell that I’ve been sitting in, suit up, and prepare to fight.