Good evening everyone 🙂
With this being the “looove” month, I wanted to take a different approach on the profound concept of self-love as February comes to a close.
Obviously the resolution fitness ads on TV have died down significantly, but we are still in the beginning throes of 2018–meaning exercise and diets are still a hot topic (and to some, like my mom, hot as in branding-iron you don’t want to touch or think about!). With all the hullabaloo TV places on “looking your best” and being “bikini ready”, I find it sadly ironic how much we start to hate our bodies because of those same messages.
While I’ve briefly mentioned my past food struggles in a few of my past posts (“5 Tips to Combat Overeating“), I’ve never gotten terribly deep into those struggles.
Tonight, I’d like to.
You see, I’m a very empathetic person–to a fault. When my father makes a dinner large enough to serve an army, in our small family of four (with some very picky eaters), a lot of it won’t get eaten. With his tendency to guilt trip (“I didn’t want to cook you anything anyway”; nice, right?), my overdeveloped superego kicked in full force and I’d end up eating enough for three of me–no joke. I would eat past the point of content, full, uncomfortable, to painful. All because I didn’t want my dad to feel like we didn’t appreciate his cooking.
Then, the binging took a turn.
What had started with me–rightfully or not–compensating my eating for my dad’s feelings invaded all my other meal patterns. Snacking? I’d crave a little sweet… so I’d eat a piece of chocolate, and then another, and another until I had the entire bar. Then, to ward off the sickly-sweet nausea welling up in my gut, I’d be craving something salty… so I’d eat a chip, handful by mindless handful, until I’d eaten the whole bag. Dinner at a restaurant? You could count me in for the appetizer, my entree, every bite my dad offered me, and then the last crumb of dessert. Afterwards, I felt greasy, gross, and like my pants had shrunk a good three sizes in one sitting.
But none of that compared to how much I would hate my body after the binge.
If you’ve never experienced binge-eating for yourself, then there’s really no way I can describe the vehement, loathing, degrading thoughts that come after a binge. I just can’t. There are no words to explain how you can’t even look at yourself in the mirror.
How the thought of eating makes you want to hide, like it’s some shameful, dirty secret.
How you can’t bear to touch your own stomach, because you’re so ashamed.
It’s not a pretty picture. There are people who would pass binge-eating off, saying it’s nothing like anorexia or other severe eating disorders. I, of course, am not by any means downplaying their significance either, but I don’t want the severity of binging to go unnoticed–or worse, casually dismissed as no big deal. Yeah, you may not be able to see the effects of binge-eating like you can with starvation, but it doesn’t make it any less damaging.
The reason I bring all this up is because binge-eating isn’t something that’s “once and done”. You don’t just binge at one meal and then go about the rest of your life carefree–at least, that’s not how it is for me. This battle has been one that is slow and very, very hard.
It’s hard because it’s never been just a physical battle.
Binge-eating is always rooted in emotional pain, one form or another. With that pain can come a lot of shame, regret, and self-hatred. Forgiveness is the single last thing you want to feel for yourself after a binge.
But what if I said you don’t have to forgive yourself?
Forgiveness implies that you have done something wrong, something selfish and horrible. Forgiveness insists it was your fault in the first place.
That’s not how binging works. Yes, something is wrong, but it isn’t necessarily because of you–abusive relationships, cruel parents, work stress, anything could cause you to spiral down that dark path. For me, it was a combination of factors. I tried for awhile to convince myself to “forgive myself”, but it never worked because I thought I was to blame. I thought, because of my binging, something in me was messed up, something about me was wrong.
You’re not messed up because you binge. You’re not dirty or gross because you binge.
You are, however, in a place of hurt and in need of some serious love–and, yes, even forgiveness. The sort of forgiveness you need, though, comes from only one place: Christ. To correct the emotional turmoil that causes binging involves learning how worthy, valuable, and cherished you are, a knowledge that can only be found after long study in God’s word. He will forgive you, you need only ask. Even when you can’t stand to see your reflection, He always loves you and thinks you are the most beautiful creation in the world.
“I loved you at your darkest.”
Reflect on that. Heal in that.
If you don’t struggle with binge-eating, I hope I discouraged you from that path! And if you do, I pray you find solace today in God’s arms. I’d love to share any tips I’ve learned to recover from a binge, even if you’d rather email than publicly comment. You are beautiful and you are loved ❤︎