Growing up, I was always told I was loved, I could do anything, be anything…but deep down I didn’t believe it or feel it. I knew my parents loved me, I knew God loved me and yet for whatever reason, I felt love was based on my performance.
So, I set out to make sure that I was “Good Enough”. I was an excellent student, a good athlete, involved in everything at school. Until the age of 16 and I felt lost. I thought I was ‘enough’ – smart enough, good enough, pretty enough, Christ-like enough – until I looked around and realized there were so many people doing it better than I could (or at least I assumed they could).
And that’s when I began my spiral downward into Anorexia. As I got sicker and thinner, I felt that I shouldn’t even be alive, and I attempted suicide. I was hospitalized after that and went into treatment to heal both physically and mentally. I did all the right steps, ate all the right foods, did everything the medical team wanted me to do. But I did it for everyone else and not for me.
Which meant I never really recovered.
Over the next two decades, my Eating Disorder, was always there. Somehow, I managed to skirt rock bottom and go through a little bit of recovery & gain just enough weight for people to get off my back. But it was always there, whispering in my ear that I’m not good enough. I was married and raising four sons – two with special needs, I worked part-time and volunteered full time. I tried so hard to manage everything. I thought if I could just keep it all together on the outside, the inside will eventually catch up.
But I couldn’t escape my own self no matter how hard I tried. I was exhausted, run down and I was wasting away. That’s how I ended up in a specialist office in 2016 and was told to seek treatment immediately or I won’t live to watch my children grow up. In my quest to keep all the balls in the air, I was starving myself to death, again.
I reluctantly agreed to enter treatment even though I thought I didn’t belong there (as I told the medical team repeatedly my first few days).
As I spent 40 days in the intensive treatment program at Credit Valley Hospital in Ontario, I realized it’s been over twenty years with an Eating Disorder in my life. I needed it gone. But I knew I couldn’t do that alone. I had medical experts, but I needed more. I needed God’s help. And in the mental health ward, is where I met God like never before.
As I learned to surrender, I also learned the most important lesson for me…I am enough in HIM. This was whispered in my ear – drowning out the other voice that said I am NOT enough. This phrase was what I heard loudly, as I sat there in treatment when everything in me wanted to run. I learned to lean on Him in those 40 days, to help me with each bite as I refed my starving body.
I have never felt so stripped away, so raw. I had no fight left in me yet was encouraged every day that He fights for me. That as I struggled to love and accept myself just as I am, that God loves and accepts me just as I am.
And that was when something finally clicked. I am enough.
There is nothing I can do that will make God love me more. There is nothing I can do that will make Him love me less. That was so freeing for this performance-driven girl. There isn’t the dark cloud of anxiety and fear of being inadequate, of not measuring up to what our culture has deemed ‘enough’. There’s peace.
It’s been just over two years since I was in treatment. My eating disorder still haunts me at times of stress. It’s been a coping mechanism for so many decades, I don’t think it will ever truly go away. What is different now is which voice I choose to listen to. When I get caught up in the busyness of life and start feeling ‘not enough’, I know that is the Eating Disorder talking and I am drowning out God’s voice. That’s my warning that I need to stop and be still. I pray and surrender the ‘not enough’ to God. And it’s His voice that reminds me that I am enough in Him.