Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One day at Magnolia Creek, i remember a strange and slightly annoying guest-therapist asking us all to draw a picture of what the journey of recovery looked like to us from where were at that moment.

the girls and i were clustered in the middle of the group room floor, some of kneeling, some settled into beanbags, i was cross-legged. construction paper and markers encircled us, and i remember thinking that of all the ways i could have been spending my time, i was sitting at a rehabilitation center with a hauntingly soft-spoken therapist and coloring supplies all around me.

i first chose a yellow sheet of paper and i drew a road that narrowed into a distant mountain with a cross at the top. people i know and love and people i'll one day know and love walked the same road, each of us headed for Home.

when i rested the finished drawing on the carpet in front of me the therapist asked a little too kindly if i would share what i'd drawn with the group.

i glanced at him through lowered eyes, leaned forward on my kneecaps and reached with a stretched arm and fingertips for a black piece of paper a few feet away.

i settled back into the carpet and then at the bewilderment of the therapist, but not really the girls, i folded the paper in half, placed on the ground like a triangular tunnel and held my drawing of the road and the mountain at the paper tunnel's end.

"This yellow one- this isn't my recovery," I said, "The scary black-hole-tunnel- that's my recovery- the yellow is the rest of my life afterwards."

The therapist asked me to explain...

"well," I said, "i'm not going to pretend that recovery sounds fun or exciting or easy or even like something i want to do at this point. To be honest, i've never felt so terrified of anything in my whole life, but i have to give this up, and so i'm just going to walk blindly into this awful black abyss and trust that God's got a light for me on the other side."

fast forward to yesterday.

i spent the first half of the day on the road home...just me, my car, and about ten cds i made for the thanksgiving journey.

aside from the fact that thick clouds hid the early sun from the treetops, i was thrilled for the music-filled hours ahead, until i saw this:

oppressed by the ominous sky ahead, i couldn't help but reminisce the feeling of jumping into a black hole that accompanied my initial decision to recover. the january day when i folded that black sheet of paper and yesterday morning's drive had more than just an oppressively dark-looking future in common: both offered only two courses of action: forwards or backwards; and when i chose to move forward, both would provide me a torrential downpour:

i really am one for road trips, but in the midst of the down pour when i could hardly see the tail lights in front of me there wasn't enjoying much of anything- just gripping the wheel and getting through it (and risking my life taking the above photo...i guess i'm a true blogger now). i can remember first gaining weight and throwing out clothes and having to eat six times a day and dreading every mirror and reflective surface i passed. The chaos that my sickness constantly sought to appease pelted my mind like hard raindrops. i just wanted it to stop. i wanted to turn and go back to safety. but i knew it couldn't rain forever and so i begged God for His strength and steadiness, and through the blinding rain i continued.

after a time of seemingly unbearable downpour, moment by moment the rain lightened. at first i feared it would only heavy again, but as i made my way forward my hope grew in the lightening sky and although the rain had not stopped, i knew things were going to get better:

i loosened my grip on the wheel and the color returned to my knuckles. i continued to pray but with an unclenched jaw and i restored my music to full volume. when things began to lighten in early months of my recovery, i remember feeling strange a freedom from the most rigid of my thoughts. my idea of beauty took on a new form- one that could other people and i could fit into without being reduced to a skeletal frame. i slowly learned presence of mind and to smile and to be alive separate from the parasitic entity to which i'd grown accustomed. i began to understand why i needed and sometimes wanted to move forward- there was a light at the end of the black piece of paper, a light that broke up the darkness that had once filled the sky:

i moved forward still, and for awhile, i thought things were fine as they were. i felt safe and i felt some sun trapped in the car window and for awhile i just wanted to rest. the clouds continued in their dominance which i would not have preferred, but the storm in its worst was bad enough to make me thankful for the semblance of peace that had settled overhead:

but as i continued forward on the journey's road, eventually breaking my eating disorder's rules day in and day out, trying new things like the #1 at Chic Fil A (my new favorite thing the world has to offer) and all kinds of desserts and asserting myself and being confident for once, i looked around me and i realized that the storm had lost its strength. blue sky and the sun were taking over and i was facing the yellow drawing all by its self- the black paper tunnel was a thing of the past:

i know that the future ahead of me is not one without storms. but i also know that the clouds of my eating disorder have broken and i'm walking through a season of blessing and anointing that on the fore side of the black sky i could have never seen coming. the joy of moving through yesterday's clouds and pulling into the driveway and throwing my arms around the people i love and sleeping in my bright red bed and waking up to my dad brewing coffee was completely worth the morning's plunge into the rain.

recovery is worth the storm too.



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