Please help me.
Sometimes, during the throes of my eating disorder, that’s all I could write. In a tattered, green journal, I wrote to God because my brain was so malnourished that a pen on paper was the only way I could maintain my concentration enough to string a few words together. Simply thinking my prayers in my head wasn’t possible when consumed by thoughts of food, shape, weight, and all of the accompanying eating-disordered feelings of inadequacy.
Inevitably, when I tried to talk to God without using my prayer journal, my mind wandered to obsessing over my last meal or even planning my next binge. When I realized that my conversation with God had turned into a detailed list of items to buy at the nearby drive through, guilt can’t even begin to describe how I felt. I’m such a horrible person.
So, at the height of my illness, I discovered that the only way I could connect with God was to write. “Dear God,” I scribbled each morning while struggling through breakfast. Exhausted with trying to overcome my illness, I often only wrote a handful of words. Almost always, I asked for help in recovery. Even though my letters were brief, I trusted that God knew what I needed to heal.
To recover from the eating-disordered thoughts and behaviors that had plagued me beginning at the young age of four, I needed a therapist, a dietitian, and doctors. I needed group therapy comprised of women and men who understood what it was like to battle the very thing that we all require to survive. Food is the best medicine for an eating disorder, the experts told me. But, how in the world was I ever going to make peace with something that I fiercely loved, hated, and, most of all, feared?
In my early 20s, I remember attending productive—even enlightening—therapy sessions only to return home where I lived alone. When it was just me, the refrigerator, and my eating disorder, the insight that I gained in therapy seemed to vanish. I felt hopeless. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how to take all that I was learning in recovery and apply it to my life. I never actually figured it out, but God did.
In this way, God was the X factor in my recovery. I can’t explain exactly how it worked, but spirituality was the extra boost that I needed to synergize all of my recovery efforts. Through my daily journaling with God, I began to feel connected to a power greater than myself. I wasn’t alone.
God never wrote me back an actual letter, not on paper anyway.
What I did receive was love, hope, and knowing that I was going to be okay. I also came to understand that I was not a horrible person. I was a person who suffered from a serious, life-threatening illness.
I never chose to have an eating disorder, but, with God’s help, I could choose to get better. And, so I did, one day at a time. One word at a time.