I hit “send” on the e-mail around 12:30 am.
Within 10 minutes, there was a text on my phone from a friend telling me that she loved me, was praying for me, and would call me at a more suitable hour (which is to say, not at 1 am).
When I woke up after a few hours of half-sleep, I had an e-mail waiting for me from the leader of my support group telling me she was so proud of me. She encouraged me not to over think sending it (which, of course, I was doing) and reiterated that is in agreement with my dietician and is very concerned. She assured me that she is (and has been) praying for me and said that any time I wanted to get coffee, she would be glad to oblige.
I logged into facebook and had a message on my wall from a friend telling me she was proud of me. The pastor I intern with had updated her status to say that “The all-time record for great letters goes to Jess.” (This is really saying something, as my pastor has been writing a series of letters on his blog and they are PHENOMENAL. Seriously. Check them out.)
A dear friend e-mailed saying that she has struggled to know how to reach out to me without making me run. She invited me for tea and breakfast next week and to play with her precious baby boy.
Another friend, seeing my pastor’s status update, sent me an e-mail saying she was nosy and wanted to know what this letter was about. I forwarded her the e-mail and told her I hesitated to do so because she’s already got a relapsed/recovering addict in her life and I figured she didn’t want another one. She responded saying that she now understood “what all the hype was about” and ended with this: “I love you, Jessica Jean. I don’t know you that well yet, but I feel like I actually do know you very well. I would love to be one of your people, on your team, and holding you accountable.”
I met a friend (THE friend – who was the first to confront me and call my eating disorder what it was) for lunch at her office and she wrote me a check for a really substantial (to me) amount of money. Enough for me to continue seeing my counselor and dietician for another couple of weeks and buy food that doesn’t terrify me. In the memo line of the check, she noted “recovery fund.”
I am so ridiculously blessed by my community. Even the people who haven’t responded directly (and I can hardly fault them, as Friday is Sabbath for our pastoral staff) have been praying. I can feel it. Yesterday was the first day I have felt anything even remotely like hunger for almost two weeks.
As I rode the train home from lunch uptown, I was overwhelmed with cravings for fried food. I initially freaked out (fried food?! really?! Why can’t I crave a salad?!). And then started running through the options in my head. The inner dialogue looked a little something like this:
Geez, that fried chicken smells good. Argh, seriously? Fried food? I am going to get so fat if I eat that. But don’t normal people eat fried foods every once in a while? Would it really be the worst thing in the world? My body is probably craving fried foods because I’ve been restricting fats lately. And, as my dietician says, my protein intake sucks. So no wonder that fried chicken smells really good. Too bad it would make me fat. But, geez, this is the first time I’ve actually been hungry in two weeks. I kind of feel like I ought to take advantage of that. Even if I go back to crazy restricting Jessica tomorrow. I could always go back to crazy restricting Jessica tomorrow. Heck, I could even go to the gym tonight and work it off. Plus, I’ve got a long run with a friend tomorrow, and I don’t want to punk out in the middle and be so weak that she gets concerned. So maybe I could get a small ice cream or something. Somehow that seems safer than fried food. Or maybe a frozen yogurt. Safer still. I could go to the mall and go to the self-serve place and get the non-fat non-dairy pineapple yogurt with fruit. And walk around the mall and burn it off. And then go to the gym. But man, I really want some fried food. But I really don’t want to get fatter.
Seriously – it was that long a conversation. Back and forth for the ENTIRE time I was on the train (about 20 minutes). I finally decided to cave to my craving. I continued my positive self-talk and reminded myself that eating something substantial would make me strong and I could then go and look for jobs and maybe if my blood sugar weren’t bottomed out I could at least pretend to be confident when handing over my resume. So I stopped in the drive thru of a local burger joint and order (drumroll please!): hushpuppies and an oreo milkshake.
I’m almost ashamed to admit such things, as if somehow this means I don’t really have an eating disorder. I do, but by the power of a half dozen faithful intercessors, I was able to silence the demon just long enough to do something seemingly normal. I was able to remind myself with every bite that I was doing something good for myself. That I was listening to my body and fueling myself (with questionable fast food) and reminded myself that I do not do this every day, or even once a month. That this “indiscretion” was not going to mean I would immediately pack on 25 pounds, because in all reality, it would probably finally get me up to an acceptable calorie count for the first time in weeks.
I ate mindfully, aware of each bite, each sip. It felt decidedly NORMAL. And so, I felt like a NORMAL human being (not some freak-of-nature-eating-disordered-failure) as I walked into the daycare that I worked at in college, swallowed my pride, and handed them my resume for consideration.
And I felt like a NORMAL human being when I walked out with an interview scheduled for Monday morning.
(And then, to be honest, I went to the gym. But I ate dinner after, so I think that’s okay. I just don’t want you to think that I’ve somehow miraculously gotten better and now eat milkshakes and hushpuppies like they’re salad and am just totally okay with that.)
I still had trouble sleeping last night, but instead of screaming at myself like usual, I praised God for the people that have been carrying me through this and holding me up when I am too weak to carry myself.
That includes you, dear blog friends.
Thank you for your support and encouraging words.