Camp Anorexia, and why only I am allowed to call it that.

Our church is hosting a conference for Biblical Counseling this weekend and one of my husband’s and my friend tweeted something today that I found to be a bit insensitive. The tweet was along the lines of “well just finished the morning learning about eating disorders. now I feel…hungry?” 

Now, I can see the humor in that. Sure, I make a lot of fun of eating disorders and people who have/do purge/purged. Here’s the catch…I am one of those people. Yeah, I am a recovering anorexic/bulimic. I feel as though I have earned the right to poke a little fun at starving, because, well, I fully understand the pain the comes with it. I am a survivor of that pain. I have spent many nights awake in a panic that I was gaining weight. I have spent many hours running my hardest to make sure things stay how they are. I have spent almost ten years standing up, getting knocked down again, standing back up, getting knocked down, and getting back up again. I have spent almost ten years in counseling, treatment, 12 step groups, and the like. 

I struggle still. I cry because my pants won’t zip or someone is skinnier than me. I still have to admit each and every morning that I am powerless over food and my life has become unmanageable, that I need God or I won’t make it. I still have to remind myself to take it one day, one meal, one bite at a time. 

Some days are better than others. Some days I see clearly the grace of God pouring on me, whether it be because I ate something and didn’t purge or because I didn’t stop and check in that mirror to make sure I was still slim. Some days I cling to the faith I have that He is not finished with me yet. He started me on this path of sanctification the day He saved me, and He will not be done until I die or He comes back, whichever comes first. 

I just wish there was a little more sensitivity in the world to eating disorders, or addictions in general. A little more grace, a little more love. 

Because a junkie tripping on the corner might be funny to you and your friends, but I can guarantee you his sister isn’t laughing. She’s scared. It might be funny to find out your boss has porn on his computer, but it’s not funny to his wife. She’s hurting. Addictions don’t just hurt the addict, they hurt the addict’s relationships, too. 

So, do I have no sense of humor about addictions? I wouldn’t say that. I laugh and poke fun at myself a lot, and often refer to my time in treatment as my time at “Camp Anorexia”. But I have also been in this fight a long time, and have learned that I am not my addiction, so I can laugh at how ridiculous those things I do are, because I can make that distinction. But some people aren’t there yet. Some addicts are still in the mind set that because they are an addict and the addiction is bad, then that means they are bad. And when people just beginning their road of recovery hear someone making a joke, they don’t hear the humor, they hear the shame.

And shame is the killer of recovery. 

So, friends, let’s have grace for those who struggle. They are not their addiction. They are hurting and broken people and the last thing they need is to hear that someone is mocking the thing that very well might be killing them. 

May we choose our words carefully, to honor the Lord and to bring blessing to those who hear them.