I want to give my testimony. I can’t do it all in one sitting so this will become a series of posts, written in the best order I can make them. Many of these stories overlap and intertwine, and I will do my best to make it as cohesive as possible. Please be patient with me. It makes me a little nervous to lay myself out there so openly, but I understand and have experienced firsthand the power of a testimony. May the scars I bare and the story I carry bless you.
My battle with an eating disorder started out innocently enough.
I was in my junior year of high school and I had come home for Christmas break. At the time, there was a boy at home who I had a crush on. One day, we went to the mall and were wandering through the stores. We got to a store and he picked up a pair of pants, smiled and said, “You should try these on! What size?” I froze. I just couldn’t say what size I was (I’ll say it now: 9). I quickly muttered that I didn’t like them and walked away as fast as I could (yes, I have always been an awkward mess).
Now let me just say that I have never been overweight. In fact, for most of my life, I have been very much in shape. I swim, stay active and eat pretty decently. I am 5’4” and I weight about 145-150lbs. According to most folks, I don’t even look like I weigh that much. That’s cool, I guess.
I cannot understand what made me so ashamed of my size. A large part of it probably had to do with the fact that one of my closest friends at that time (a size 3), was obsessively dieting, working out, and almost constantly talking about her body image issues. Naturally, that stuff just wears a person out and my insecurities were being fed by her influence.
Regardless of why, I reacted badly on that fateful day at the mall and went home feeling terrible and ashamed. I immediately began doing research on workout routines and diets. It all went downhill from there.
You see, I have an addictive personality: when I do something, I do it 300% and most often it’s to the detriment of my sanity. Before I knew it, my “diet” had spiraled out of control. I was daily logging into online eating disorder (ED) websites: pro-ana (pro-anorexia) and pro-mia (pro-bulimia). I had hundreds of girls encouraging me, feeding me lies about my body and my beauty. Beyond that, I had recently taken a liking to Vogue magazine and found myself poring over pages upon pages of waif-like, size-zero models, with cheekbones pronounced and hipbones jutting out from their sides. I vowed that I would do absolutely anything to look like that.
I started keeping a journal about my food intake (if you can call 200 calories a day an intake). I would work out three to five hours a day. I’d binge and purge on a weekly basis. I cried myself to sleep for months. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was failure. I wanted to die, truly. My level of self-hatred took on a whole new level. I felt as if I were the most repulsive creature to walk the earth.
Less than a month into my downward spiral, I was re-baptized. I had been baptized four or five years earlier, but I felt the weight and significance of re-dedicating my life to the Lord. This was timely, given the fact that I was actively cutting, smoking pot and starving myself on a daily basis. Regardless, I was drawn to the Lord and His love. I could feel His hand extending towards mine and I knew I wanted to be with Him, too. I was so lost and confused, but I knew that He loved me, and I loved Him too. In my own broken way, I loved Him.
I remember the day of my baptism. I remember standing behind the baptismal pool and literally dancing for joy. I could feel the Lord’s pleasure in me; it was so good. I was like a child, starved for light, finally able to stand in the sun. I sang, danced and rejoiced, so much so that some people were looking at me funny. I could care less: it was my wedding day.
I wish I could say that was the turning point for me. I wish I could say things changed- they didn’t. In fact, things got worse. I was snatched back into the darkness just as quickly as I stepped out of it. Before I knew it, “the monster” (as I called my ED) was back and it was stronger than ever.
I could share so many horror stories: of inducing vomiting to the point of blood, of working out so hard that I could hardly stand, of literally praying “Lord, you can have everything in my life, but give my body to the devil”. I would sit in class, wanting to crawl out of my flesh. I felt like a caged animal. There were days when all I wanted to do was cut myself out of my body. I can’t believe I am still alive through all of it.
All the while I could feel the Lord begging me for my heart. He would sing me love songs in the morning and whisper lullabies as I cried myself to sleep. He told me that I was beautiful, that I was perfect and spotless in His eyes. In true Diana fashion, I clasped my hands over my ears and refused to listen. He did not relent, not once. Every day was a battle: I knew I was walking a thin line, yet I chose to be a prisoner. After all, I didn’t know how to be free.
I graduated high school still in the throes of an eating disorder. After moving back in with my family (I went to a boarding school for high school), I was caught purging several times by my parents. Each time, I would make excuses or feign illness. I knew I was reaching a breaking point.
Three months after graduation, my family and I went on a day trip to the mountains. I was on the third or fourth day of a fast, and the hike took it all out of me. I have no idea how I stayed conscious; I felt as if I were dying. I hardly remember anything from that day, but I do remember the mountains: the sheer majesty and beauty of the view, the raw strength of the rocky cliffs. I felt as if the Lord were standing beside me. I was overcome with my weakness and His sovereignty.
When we returned home, I glanced in the mirror. My face was pale, there were dark circles under my eyes, and my lips were blue. BLUE. I knew then and there that if I didn’t change, I was going to die; I could not survive another year living like this. I dropped my head and prayed. I prayed for courage, strength, and for grace. I begged for forgiveness. I asked for my eyes to be opened. I surrendered my life, once more, to the Lord.
This time around, everything changed. I was willing and obedient.
Giving up an eating disorder was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Every day for at least a year, I had to consciously FIGHT to not fall back into old habits. To this day, I have to take great care when I work out or diet, so as not to relapse. But the Lord is so good, so gracious, and so faithful. He never let me go and He never let me down.
I am beautiful. I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. He delights in me, and I am perfect and blameless in His sight. His heart stirs with love at one glance of my eyes, and I am so deeply, madly in love with Him.
Know that you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter what you think is beautiful: if the Lord says you’re beautiful, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. Slow down long enough to hear Him say it to you, because He’s been trying to tell you this for longer than you know.