Eating by Faith will bring you into the mind and heart of someone suffering from the illness in such a brutally honest way, that you will have a greater understanding of the mind and heart of anyone suffering from this illness.
Her eating disorder, like most, takes root inside a secret place. This root is often anchored in the lies Satan would have us believe about ourselves. Once established, he will use the eating disorder to separate us from God, robbing us from our joy and our identity in Christ's unconditional love.
Lisabeth's story is one of wrestling with the eating disorder, herself, and God. It is about finding her identity in the love of Christ instead of her illness. Taste and See...
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Eating by Faith: A Walk With God. My Eating Disorder from the Inside Out
Taste and See ...
By Lisabeth Kaeser
Balboa PressCopyright © 2016 Lisabeth Kaeser
All rights reserved.
No one can know
The price that I have paid
To allow my body
To fade away
It has robbed my spirit
It has eroded my soul
On my mind and my body
It has taken its toll
Has the hole I have dug
Become so deep
That I have nothing left to do
But accept it and weep?
My body betrays me as I try to re-fuel
It laughs and it mocks me
I feel like a fool
I want to throw in the towel
And just run away
The stakes are too high
In this game that I play
I have nothing left to lose
And everything to gain
If I could step off this path
Of shame and pain
Relapse, Recovery and Redemption by Faith
No Temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
—1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
My back is against the wall. I feel cornered by the demands of my parents to take care of them, all because of poor choices they made throughout their lives. Yet they feel free to tell me that I am worse than an infidel if I do not pay for their mistakes.
It is with my back, literally, against the wall in the corner of my bathroom that I watch the sandwich I just ate swirl in the vortex of the toilet and slip away. As I watch, I realize that I am part of the "sandwich generation," taking care of my aging parents as well as my children.
How ironic that I am now a member of the sandwich generation yet I can hardly eat a sandwich most days, and if I do, I can't keep it in. Fifty years old and I am dealing with my adolescent illness, once again.
The problem began when I forgot His promise. I turned from the Father and His faithfulness and took my life into my own hands. I traveled back into the eating disorder He rescued me from more than 20 years ago.
I know, it's as crazy as the Israelites choosing to wander back into the desert instead of entering the Promised Land, but that is just what I did. I did wander into the desert, but it wasn't entirely intentional. Just like the Israelites didn't plan on 40 years in the desert, I didn't plan on a three-year relapse — just a temporary detour.
Anorexia was something that, at times in my life, I managed; at other times, it managed me. It began this time as an innocent flirtation. I was older and wiser. I was in control, I thought. It is something belonging just to me. It is like a secret I keep to myself, yet at the same time, it's breaking a confidence to myself.
Honoring myself by keeping this secret becomes the ultimate betrayal of my body and soul. I feel clever and deceitful at the same time. It is a dark abyss plagued with contradictions. I won't let it go too far this time, just far enough, far enough to keep my family at bay.
The problem is I didn't pay attention to that warning in my soul telling me to step away from the edge. My, how absurd of me not to realize that the eating disorder has a strength of its own. It sits like a predator in the shadows, waiting to pounce on me just as the very thing I thought I was turning to for power ends up weakening my strength.
I gave it the opportunity, and it took on a life of its own. It made me sick. It made me tired. It left me void and vacant. Yet I can't let it take my life. I must take back my life. Can I tend to the dwelling place in time for my soul to return home?
Vacant: Without occupant or incumbent. That definition sums it up for me. Somewhere along the way, my mind, my soul, my being, checked out, leaving a feeling of vacancy in my body. I left a little bit at a time, allowing a hollow space where I had dwelled and existed.
Because I left, why tend to the body where the soul had dwelled? Why should I throw wood on a fire that has already burned itself out? I look in the mirror and I see me, but I look through me. I am like a special effect in a movie. I am no longer solid. I am a vapor that can be seen, but certainly not touched or held.
I am a wilting flower that has been left to water itself from the dust under a scorching desert sky. A sky that is unable or unwilling to yield the rain that I so desperately crave, the rain that I desperately need.
Model Kate Moss was once quoted as saying, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I lived by this mantra as I fell back into my anorexia. Each time I would reach for something, anything, to fill my empty body, I would repeat this to myself. I would repeat it over and over again until the shame of eating became stronger then the hunger rising up in my gut.
And it worked! More often than not, I would walk away feeling strong in my resolve to restrict my food or to work off what I did eat. But I was physically weakened by the hunger radiating through my body, mirroring my soul that was already weakened, starving to be loved and heard.
I work in an industry where thin and fit is admired. My self-denial and self-discipline are applauded and even envied. This feeds my eating disorder while I can't feed myself. I am left feeling like a fraud.
If only they knew the truth.
I am not strong. I am weak and have been subdued by the standards of my field. The distorted idea that "thin" equates "health" and "fitness" is a quite dysfunctional and dishonest place.
One day during my relapse (a different day than "the sandwich" day), I felt as though I was adrift as my body ran out of steam and I hit "THE WALL." I was so tired physically. I had no anchor, or maybe it was that I had let go of the rope. I had exercised hard every day for the past 33 days. And I wondered why my weight was back down? I was encroaching once again on my own muscles for fuel, my eye twitched, and the tension that once settled just into my shoulders had worked its way through my neck and into my head.
I promised myself that I would just take an easy yoga class that day, and then I would rest. "Oh yeah, I can do this," I think. "But can I do this and eat?" I mean eat according to my meal plan from the nutritionist? Eat normally in front of my mother-in-law at lunch? She's a tough one for me to eat around, as she never acknowledged that my body had drastically changed back into the anorexic woman she saw enter in-patient treatment more than 20 years ago. Such typical anorexic thinking, that somehow me not eating lunch would cause her to take notice of my suffering and of me.
Yet I found myself hungry that day, even without the strenuous exercise. Frankly, I was a little irritated that my hunger poked at me, not like a child trying to get her mother's attention, but like a battering ram powered by hydraulics.
I tried the mantra that had carried me through the past year: "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, nothing tastes ... nothing." I allow it to flow through my thoughts like the tea pouring through the porcelain spout in front of me. The word "nothing" hangs in the air like the steam rising from my teacup, and then slips away into the mist.
It hits me. By tasting nothing, I had allowed myself to become nothing. And then, by the grace of Jesus Christ, I remembered what "skinny" really feels like. Initially, skinny feels comforting, soothing, powerful and almost euphoric. I was in control. Without warning, skinny twisted and turned on me, forming a knot that hung like a noose waiting to strangle the life out of me.
That is what skinny feels like. It feels like a death sentence. It sucks the life out of your body and your soul. I am not sure which it comes for first, but it comes; devouring you when you should be devouring sustenance and gorging yourself on life, the abundant life God desires for you.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.
— John 10:10 (NASB 1995)
Skinny doesn't feel good. It is the thief! For some distorted reason, it may feel safe, but it is not good. It doesn't feel good to go to sleep each night wondering if you will wake in the morning, so consequently you hardly sleep at all. It doesn't feel any better wondering if your body will give out during the day as you work out to burn the little you have taken in.
It doesn't feel good to shake and see blackness as you stand because your blood pressure is so low it can't keep up with your movements, to feel acid burning in your stomach because there is nothing there to digest, to wretch and purge the smallest of meals as your eyes water and small specks of blood leak from their capillaries. It is agonizing to sit with your boney ass in any chair for any length of time without shifting and moving to keep the pressure from forming bruises. It is terrifying to be sent to a cardiologist for testing because your heart beats irregularly and at a slow pace.
You remember how your bones and veins protrude, and how being hugged sometimes hurts. You remember your son pulling out of a hug, remarking how your back feels like skin and bones. Then you wonder how you will explain your slow death march to your children.
It doesn't feel good to be treated as a child following someone else's guidelines designed to keep you alive. You feel even smaller than your physical presence. Weighing in, checking off meal plans, baring the ugly parts of your truth to doctors, a therapist, a nutritionist, your pastor and the other practitioners you see in search of wellness.
Somehow there was less shame in this the first time around. You were young and lacked any cognizance of what you were doing. This time you know, on a base level, what you are doing. And there is a sense of shame and humiliation that now you are turning not to older, wiser people for treatment but to your peers. Now you are older. You should be wiser but ...
I allow the memory of what being skinny really felt like to speak. I allow it to speak louder than the anorexia. I allow myself the permission to take the break my body needs today and to eat. Like a good little girl (insert sarcasm), I do just as I am told.
I am not just tired, but tired of the fight. As I pray for the strength to let go of my anorexia, God does answer: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9, NIV)
Being that I am beyond weary, I can only assume he is my strength!
He answers my question, "What does taste as good as skinny feels?" in Psalm 34:8 (NLT): Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh the joys of those who seek refuge in him!
I feel the soul, my soul, beginning to stir. It desires to return home. I see just a flicker of her in my eyes. I need to tend to that home. I need to make it welcoming, strong and secure, a place of warmth and refuge. It should be beautifully prepared as my house would be for guests.
Can I tend to that dwelling place in time for my soul to return home? I know that Jesus has gone ahead and prepared a place for me, but I am not quite ready to go home to that place yet.
And I remind myself that He can "make beautiful things out of the dust." (Lyrics from "Beautiful Things" by Gungor.)CHAPTER 2
Many ask me what lead me down this path again. What was I thinking? How did this happen? First and foremost, it was a lack of faith, a lack of faith that God wouldn't give me any more than I could handle.
Looking for an answer, I take matters into my own hands. I search back through my journals, and I do find a point of demarcation. I wrote that I felt as though I was walking a fine line between stepping back or moving forward. I had set up great boundaries with my family, but I somehow felt lost in my ability to defend those boundaries. I concluded that I spent too much time on my defense and not enough time on my offense.
I remember thinking that if I could just let my family "think" I may be struggling with my eating again, this would cause them to leave me alone. The reality was that in doing so, I found myself dabbling in behaviors that drew me in like a moth to a flame. The eating disorder numbed me to the uncomfortable parts of my life. It also numbed me to the good parts of my life, as well. I was going through the motions of life, yet I wasn't living at all.
After working so hard to feel, how could I let this happen again? Twenty years ago, I was slowly enticed into the eating disorder, but this time I knew better. Yet I heeded its gentle call. I have been here before. My hope was, like always, to pick myself up (quickly) and not let it seduce me.
My first descent into anorexia and bulimia was not a deliberate decision; in fact it wasn't a decision at all. I didn't wake up one morning at age 14 and say, "Today, I think I will choose to become eating disordered. I will choose a mental illness that has the highest mortality of any mental illness, including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar" (South Carolina Department of Mental Health).
I thought I was just trying to lose a pound or two after my mother pointed out that I was "getting a little thick in the waist." This I remember like it was yesterday. I was wearing a pink T-shirt and a darling white pleated tennis skirt with tiny pink rosebuds embroidered all over it. I loved that size 6 skirt and thought I looked cute in it, until I saw her in the reflection of the powder-room mirror and felt her fingers poke at the flesh above my hip bones. I had no idea how the decision I made to lose a few pounds would change my life forever.
My diet became my obsession, my compulsion; I let it become my identity. I quickly began to fade away, but instead of fear and concern for me, my mom just became angry with me. I was so confused! I had done what she asked to make sure I wasn't too thick in the waist, and now she was angry because my skin and bones were an embarrassment to her. I felt like I could never do enough to please her and somehow in doing what she asked, I had let her down again.
My hair grew brittle, my skin turned ashen, and my periods stopped all together. By this point, I knew I was sick, and I knew it had a name. My periods ceasing was my nirvana. Finally, I had done something right! I could now be diagnosed anorexic. I carried between 100 and 105 pounds on my 5 foot 7 inch frame, and I was comfortably miserable in my nirvana.
My victory soon felt like defeat as a few "popular" girls developed eating disorders, and they seemed to do it so much better than I did. I thought they appeared thinner than me, and one or two that were bulimic were actually hospitalized. I couldn't even do an eating disorder right. Fail again! They were the "poor anorexic girls." I was just the weird girl that sat and picked the chocolate chips out of the cookies, allowing the rest to crumble in my napkin, thinking no one would notice. The cafeteria became a place of embarrassment, humiliation and isolation.
Excerpted from Eating by Faith: A Walk With God. My Eating Disorder from the Inside Out by Lisabeth Kaeser. Copyright © 2016 Lisabeth Kaeser. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Inside Out, xv,
Fade Away, 1,
Relapse, Recovery and Redemption by Faith, 2,
Thin Lines, 9,
Preying vs. Praying, 15,
Imperfect Perfection, 18,
Sacred Summers, 24,
An Illusion, 42,
Pushing the Limits, 61,
He Is Risen, 63,
Revolving and Evolving, 92,
I Am, 95,
Battling the Giant, 100,
Pain and Scars, 115,
Fear and Desperation, 118,
With Me, 123,
The Choice, 131,
Strength and Redemption, 139,
Life in Death, 143,
Loving and Grieving in the Midst of Anger, 149,
Silent Tears, 161,
And He Will Rescue Me Again, 166,
Senior Day, 173,
The Scarlet Car, 179,
Hello, Baby, 192,
I'm Alive!, 196,
Many Gifts = One Body, 201,
Tired and Bored, 213,
Long Months of Drought, 218,
Suffering and Fear, 223,
Relief and Fear!, 230,
Quiet Is Not Silence!, 254,
Mirror, Mirror ... We Are All The Fairest of Them All, 259,
Hope Continues, 277,
Daily Bread, 288,
No Rest, 293,
What If, 298,
Silent Fingerprints, 302,
Conclusion: Am I Wonderfully Made?, 305,
About the Author, 317,