The Annexorexic.

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I love games. I am a competitive person, and I will admit, it sometimes gets the best of me.
If we’re playing SceneIt, you’re getting mowed over when a scene of my favorite movie comes on. If we’re playing Twister, you’re falling first. If we are playing Risk, I actually don’t know what will happen seeing as I have never played before, but I will try to win. I like to think of my competitive tendency as the whimsical side of my stubborn-as-a-mule nature. (I only call it whimsical because they’re games. It’s actually quite terrifying.) I know it’s bad, but I am human. Just a whimsical human being. 
But as much as I love competition and excitement, I hate one type of game.
Ice-breakers.
The one I despise most fervently is the most relaxed of them all: “Describe yourself in three words.” 
I dislike it so much because when you ask a group of teenagers that are complete strangers to describe themselves in three words, it doesn’t matter how old they are, whether or not they attended Harvard at age eight and are now developing a cure for cancer, or if they have the charisma of a panda cub in a room full of fourteen-year-old girls and one Catherine Miller. IT’S GOING TO BE AWKWARD.
There’s no way around it. It gets ugly, painful even, because here’s what comes out:

“Uhhh…love, Jesus, and four.”
Next kid.
“Ummm…great and fine.”
“That was two.”
“Oh, and I’d say I’m four!”

We aren’t Jesus or four! Leader of the group, we are just thinking of the most generic answers possible to avoid being awkward, to avoid embarrassing ourselves. I’d say we’re doing a pretty jam-up job if I am being honest.

But no matter how much I despise the glacial pace of that ice-breaker, I’m going to be a hypocrite and go for it myself. 

Surprised, Elated, and Humbled.

When I posted “[Thigh Gap]se in Judgment,” I had no idea that it would receive the response that it did. That was huge. That was fantastic. That was love, Jesus, and four. 
I had originally thought that maybe five people would read it, and I might get a like or two on Facebook from my parents. But no. Once again, my thoughts were not God’s, and He said, “Watch this.”
As I watched the response pour in on Wednesday afternoon, I was a puddle of tears. Absolutely confounded. I cannot thank y’all enough for the support and the love that you have poured out not only to me, but to each other. It’s one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced, and it is only a testament to God and the good that He continuously pours out over the world. 

That post was all God. The details of my story involved in that post were some of my most hidden secrets, so I can attest to the fact that the internet was probably the last place I wanted my story to be posted. But it was what God wanted, and it has been such a blessing. The man upstairs knows what He’s doing, y’all.
One of the most overwhelming responses that the blog has received is a “thank-you” for the reminder that we are all beautiful, and another is a statement that the particular reader is impressed that I learned those things at my age. But I am here telling y’all that post was also a reminder to myself, that God knew I needed to hear those things, too.

Despite the overwhelming positive response, I did receive a few negative comments. Some of them, I posted and sent a reply because I thought that some things needed to be cleared up or said, but others that were just too vile to even stand to read once didn’t quite make the cut. Let me explain that I am not trying to sound like a brat that cannot take criticism. I’m an architecture major. My entire education right now is based on criticism. Criticism is great because it challenges your views–and in some cases, your spirit–and makes you reevaluate your opinion or think about what has been said. And as a result, you grow; you learn. Criticism, when given and taken correctly, never breeds complacency.
Please excuse me when I say this because I  really mean the best. I honestly do. But this past week, while being joyful and fruitful and awe-inspiring, has been rough. People say that one of the worst feelings in the world is being judged by someone before they know anything about you, but after this week, I disagree. What’s worse than that is posting your deepest and darkest secret–one of which your own mother, who paid for therapy after learning, only knew bits and pieces–for the entire world to see and THEN getting judged. I told my mother it’s like a double-sided mirror at a Ripley’s museum. I could see myself, and that other person could see me. But I could not see them.
I honestly struggled with it. A few things that were said cut deep despite all of the positivity that was coming at me ninety miles per hour. But, my mother pointed out to me that just as God works in strange ways, so does Satan, and he was using the hurtful words said by certain people with hearts that weren’t in the right place to shake me and my faith. He knew that those words would leave me thinking that if I had never posted that blog for the entire world to see, I would not have ever been nearly reduced to tears by someone that I will never even meet. First of all, that was ridiculous on my part because I knew from word one that God had a plan, and I realized that not everyone is going to love everything all the time. And just as some people felt compelled to tell me that they liked it, others felt the opposite. That’s okay. I’m closer to God because of both sides, so thank y’all. 
But I do have to say that hope is not bred where negativity is spread.
That’s right, I just threw it back to pre-school.

So, after thinking about some of the things that were said for a while, I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned–both spiritual and health-oriented.
I’ll start off with this one. It didn’t hurt. It just made me laugh.
1) Q: Are you single?
    A: No.

This one puzzled me.  

2) To the reader that made a remark about how while I was starving myself, kids in Africa are praying to God for water, I realize that. I am sorry, I really, really am–as a human. It’s horrible, and I want to help change that now and in the future. I am not completely positive about what you meant by that comment, but I am going to assume–please forgive me if I’m assuming incorrectly–that you meant that it was selfish of me to deny my body food when I’m fortunate enough have an abundance of it in my pantry while others don’t have a crumb to eat. If you wish, classify eating disorders as first-world problems. Throw a hashtag in front of it on Twitter for all I care. But before you do that, please understand a few things. While it may be a “first-world problem” in your eyes, that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. It’s a huge problem. Eating disorders take lives of men and women–young and old–every single day. Here’s the thing: EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT LIFESTYLE CHOICES. They are mental diseases. Anorexia Nervosa and bulimia are both mental conditions, and most eating disorders stem from a need for control. My own, we found out through therapy, was a result of my personality. I am a perfectionist, I have an obsessive personality, and I am an extremely anxious person. That’s where God comes in. That’s why I sought Him as my refuge. I couldn’t help it. And so many people can’t either. 
I don’t think I am special. I was fortunate enough to have a relatively mild form. I never went to the hospital, and while my habits were slowly killing my body, I never almost died  in ICU with my parents sobbing over my emaciated body.  When you have an eating disorder, your body is a prison. It’s the enemy. So many people’s bodies are the enemy. I wasn’t parading my experience to throw a pity party. God was letting others who were going through the same struggles know that they are not alone. Living with an ED is a beast all by itself because not only are you looked down on by society for being “selfish” and “vain,” but you are also in total isolation from the human race because you are denying your own body of its most basic need–sustenance. It might sound trivial to y’all. Heck, I even thought it was ridiculous before I experienced it myself, but I have never felt more alone in my life as I did then despite having the most loving, supportive friends and family in the world and a beautiful life on top of it. It’s the hardest thing to admit, not only to others, but to oneself. I personally could not have changed without God, the same God that loves the children in Africa. God doesn’t care how we hurt; He only cares that we hurt. And He’s there to love all of us through any of our struggles.
So please, before you pass judgment on me or anyone else that looks a certain way or acts a certain way about food, try to understand how hopeless it feels, and try to understand that I was just trying to let people know that God is our strength and that none of us is alone.

This one cut deep.

3) I was told by a reader to “grow up” and stop acting like I was “better” than her by “hiding behind God” because she could see right through me. This particular reader told me that her mother’s life had been ruined in her late forties due to an eating disorder and that I needed to stop eating like a bird and working out every day. To this woman, I am truly sorry that your mother went through that and that it has hurt you. I cannot imagine watching my mother, who is my hero, go through that. It broke my heart to hear that. But just because your mother struggled with it, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t, too. Just because she was older when it took over her life does not make me naïve or shallow. Just because the people in my life didn’t show their hurt while it was happening, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t show it when they found out. It’s because of this experience–both struggling and getting better–that I have grown up. I have grown up in my self respect, I have grown in my respect for others, and I have grown in my faith. It wasn’t a prima-donna teenage phase. It was definitely real, and it is still definitely real. I struggle with it every day. Every single day. It doesn’t go away. I try to eat healthfully and exercise because it’s still real. If I don’t watch what I eat, I’ll get thrown back into the vicious cycle again. Just as an alcoholic can easily slip back into drinking, I can slip back into harming myself. I don’t want to do that. Please don’t judge me for it because the comments like that are the ones that make people with these problems shut down. Comments like that are the ones that made me shut my parents and my sister and my best friends and even God out of my life. And they are the ones that made some of my closest friends do the same thing. I had no idea about them, and  they had no idea about me. Does that mean it didn’t happen? Absolutely not. We are all unwell without our God.
That was what hurt me. God is my refuge, and you claimed that He was not. That remark was like cutting a runner’s legs off while he is running a marathon. If you want to assume things about me, I can handle it, but do not think for a second that I don’t believe with all my heart that He is the one who is carrying me through. It may sound dramatic, but that’s because it is dramatic. I am not hiding behind God. He is shielding me and keeping me and protecting me, so I am STANDING behind Him. He is doing the same for every single person. And while that reader was looking right through me, I hope she saw a broken, sinning soul that needs God, a heart that loves God, a mind that wants to do His will, a strength that is given by God and God alone, and a spirit that is fighting for God.
I don’t intend to sound mean or offensive, but I wasn’t crying for help from anyone who read that post. I’ve already cried for help, and God has already answered.

My intentions were to let that be known and to let it be known that He will do the same for any that seek Him. I’ll leave y’all with these verses that I hope reflect the message I wished to convey through this post. Thank you all so much for all of your support. I am truly humbled by God’s work through all of your beautiful hearts!

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Psalm 28:7

 

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

 

All the best,
Catherine

 

 

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19 thoughts on “The Annexorexic.

  1. Anonymous

    Catherine, thank you for your posts. I have struggled with an eating disorder for the past two years and after therapy have been doing a lot better the past year. However, I can see some of the behaviors starting to creep back into my life. Your posts are exactly what I needed to hear. You are an inspiration; and your story is so much like mine.

  2. Catherine, I think you had a great response to these people’s harsh comments. From someone who’s been there, too…I know that others will always be harsh and will always have something to say to tear you down. The enemy is so strong. I read a great book and in it they said that we were passionately loved by our Lord but we are also passionately HATED by Satan. Hated. He hates us and he seeks women especially as targets. Not because they are “the week link” but because he is so jealous of women. When Satan was an angel the bible says he was radiant with beauty. When he became the devil he lost that beauty. Then Eve was created and he really had it out for her because she was beautiful. He especially hates women because of their beauty. We need to remember to stay strong in The Lord because the devil has it out for us and will do what he can to destroy our relationship with Christ. Don’t let him win! Stay strong. I think you’ve really got some great wisdom and I think it’s awesome how you’re letting God use you and your story.
    Have a good one,
    Isabel

  3. I am so glad that you chose to write a blog… and am grateful that somehow God put your blog in front of me the other day so I could follow it. While I cannot truly understand or fathom how you live each day with your ED, I have such respect for you in the way you approach the healing process.

    Food, for me, is a constant wonder. I write a wine-recipe blog (fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com) that pushes me to create new ways to use this fun (for me) ingredient. Working at a winery can do that to a person. I cannot imagine how I would face each day if this creative outlet were removed from my daily planning.

    I commend your bravery, even if you simply deflect and say that it’s God’s work in your life. I believe that, while it’s God’s work, you’re using Free Will to *choose* a healthier way to live and function in your life. Please don’t stop writing and sharing your thoughts, even if you keep getting slammed by haters… people seem to be the meanest when they can hide behind a keyboard.

    Wishing you a continued blessed life…

  4. Struggling to live up to what I think I need to be.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration. I am only 16 years old but I think about starving myself everyday. I feel I am not good enough for my family and that I shouldn’t be here or in this family most of the time. I am also an athlete. And the pressure is on with College Lacrosse opportunities and things like that I feel the pressure to be skinny and look like a
    “normal college athlete” Thanks for everything you do and I just need to help find God in this situation.

    • Hey, girl. The pressure is what’ll get you. I went through it, too. In defense of my parents, they never directly pressured me, but they didn’t have to because I was already hard enough on myself.

      And as for the “normal college athlete” look, there is no such thing. Athletes on the collegiate level are fit and not necessarily “skinny.” They have muscle. Their bodies are machines, and they take really good care of them. If you stress your body, you won’t be able to even play such a physical sport.
      One of my best friends from high school plays lacrosse at her college, and she is curvy and absolutely gorgeous. She eats well, and she has become a better and stronger athlete because of it.

      I know it’s all about stress and control. But just ask Him, just ask for His help. It’ll come. It’s a process, but it’ll come. Please don’t go down that road. He’s already there for you, so just turn around and acknowledge Him. Keep your head up, and focus on the good. God bless you, sweet one.

  5. lpokrzyw

    Hey, I just wanted to say that people don’t always see the big scheme of things. And I want to thank you for sharing your troubles and your faith in God. It serves as a beautiful reminder that He is in control.
    I’m in college and the Freshman Fifteen have just hit me this semester (I was in the marching band the first semester- hard core!) and am struggling now. I went up to a size 12, I haven’t been this size in at least 3 years and haven’t weighed this much (180) in at least 4 years. Between the stress of college and family stuff at home I struggle to keep myself in touch with Him and try to keep my body healthy. You are truly an inspiration to me to find my happy medium in life and have faith in Him to light my way.
    I just wanted to say thank you.

  6. Thank you for this! I shared it on my ED treatment groups Facebook page. It encouraged them just as it encouraged me. I’m in recovery now (as are you, I guess) it’s hard, but God has surely saved me from myself. Recovery from an ED is impossible without God. He has taught me so much. and He is working through my struggles. Satan tries to destroy me daily, but with God on my side I am indestructible! And so are YOU! Keep it up! God is using you.

  7. As a recovering anorexic/ bullemic, AND a missionary in Africa, the comment about children starving really works my nerves. Yes, that is a problem, but honestly it isn’t any more of a less of a problem than anorexia, bulimia, or any other struggle of the sort. People suffer from both, and both are the result of the broken and sinful world we live in, and both desperately need the love and nurture that God provides. I hate when people use that line, because unless they’ve been here, seen it, or even done something to help, you don’t get it. You’ve done these children a severe injustice when you use their suffering to feed your own hatefulness. I’m so sorry you had to endure comments like that. The only thing you can do for these people is to pray for them.
    Now that I’ve said that, thank you so much for the encouragement from both post. God has blessed you and used you in such an amazing way, and I’m so thankful for you. I’ll be praying for you, and I sincerely hope that your posts will continue to have the impact they have already begun to have. God Bless!

  8. A fellow sister

    God is your defender and refuge. While you may be behind that one-sided window, so is He. He is there with you. Keep standing behind Him! Thank you for being so vulnerable.

    • Oh, goodness, so am I! It’s an intentional mistake. Since it was a response post on the same subject as the first, I treated it as a more in-depth addendum, as an annex to what I mentioned in my first post. Annex…anorexic…annexorexic.
      Forgive me for being such a dork!
      Thanks for looking out, though!

  9. Please keep writing Catherine! I absolutely love your blog and haven’t found anything like it. These posts came at such an imperative point in my life and I am so greatful.

  10. I am very grateful for your first post, Catherine! I have blogged for years but never really showed others my work. Your post inspired me to start an entirely new blog, and my first post is something that has been weighing on me a lot recently. I posted the link on Facebook and it has already encouraged many people, so thank you.

    If you would like to check out my blog, you can find it at http://wondermadefully.blogspot.com/.

    Kayla

  11. Smith

    Cathrine,

    Every time I read your posts I try not to cry. And not because I am dramatic, because I want so badly to believe everything you are saying. I am a freshman in high school and have struggled with an eating disorder for about a year and a half. I am super invested in my faith and think you are an amazing person for publicly telling your story…I can’t imagine.

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