Friday, December 24, 2010

the best is the worst.

{and visa//versa}

i had an eating disorder for a really long time. but before i had an eating disorder, i was a singer and a basketball player and a really, really happy person.

i sang at church and in choir and all that but i also did some competitive stuff. i placed ninth in the state for alto singers as a sophomore in high school. was it because of my talent? yes. was it because i worked tirelessly with unfailing intensity to make sure i had practically committed the songs to muscle memory by the time try outs came? even bigger yes. i made copy after copy of practice CDs. i attended weekly voice lessons and practiced before, during, and after school. by the time region and state competitions came, i knew my music so well i would literally have had to try to mess anything up.

i can't say that i possess any real raw talent for basketball. my brother got that. but i wanted to play and i could run fast and i didn't mind my thighs burning and so i played from third to 9th grade, winning the heart and/or defensive player award for somewhere over half the teams i played on or camps i attended. i can remember during defensive and running drills, ignoring {at times loving} the pain and discomfort. i knew it was going to make me better, and i knew that i wanted to feel like i had nothing left. and that was what got me through the pain.

i've always had passion, i've always had drive, and i've always had discipline.

the parts of my life i just shared with you are not of any sort of bragging or pompous nature. i shared them to show you what can come from the types of qualities that make a person really good at having an eating disordered when they are channeled for positive, constructive things.

if you think about it, someone who's incredibly thoughtful, considerate, and conscious of the people around them is also likely to be overly sensitive and easily hurt when they are not treated with the same consideration. it's the same with people who are understanding and forgiving of wrongdoers; although they avoid poisonous, bitter grudges and are generous with love and with chances, they are likely to forgive and forget so unceasingly that they reduce themselves to doormats.

in other words, our best and worst qualities may not be separate qualities at all. they are simply our strongest qualities manifested in positive and negative ways.

when i think back to basketball practice and doing those defense drills- sliding low with thighs parallel to the ground- i'm more than able to draw a connection between my thoughts then and my thoughts as i ran for hours around our church gym's track. i was already at ** pounds and all i could think was that just one more lap was that much closer to the next pound i'd lose.

and when i think about practicing all those songs- literally making them a part of me until i knew every time signature and how it sounded it what it felt like and when it changed- i can see why it was so easy for me to push myself to starvation and well beyond it.

i'm capable of looking pain and discomfort and difficulty in the face and taking them on with a predetermined assurance that i'm going to succeed. it's incredibly productive. it's incredibly dangerous.

i've realized though, that i think the same things about me that made me so good at having an eating disorder- my passion, my drive, my intensity- are the same things that make me so good at recovering from an eating disorder. this hasn't happened in a decent while, but for months on end all i could see when i looked at myself in the mirror was an overweight person. it hurt more than i can say to have to see myself like that and continue to gain weight and then to maintain it. but i can remember looking at myself and saying, "i see a fat person right now and i have to keep eating. my life actually kind of sucks. but i refuse to give any more of myself or my time to my disorder, so i'm going to keep going."

it was a lot harder than defense drills. it hurt a lot more and it took a lot longer. but i made a choice. i stripped my passion and my discipline away from my eating disorder and i plugged them into my decision to recover. like i said, it sucks, but it works. and it's worth it.

people are always wanting to know what's supposed to make them "feel" like recovering. how they're supposed to do it when they don't want to. the thing is, no one ever really feels like doing anything enough to become really good at it- people know that they want things and so they push through the exhaustion and the opposition and the burnout until they get them.

right now, i'm reading a book called Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. Throughout the book, Gladwell traces the paths of all kinds of successful people, pointing out the common threads and trends between them that led them to success.

in one of the book's early chapters, Gladwell suggests that the magic number of hours someone has to spend practicing something to become a true master is 10,000. From master musicians to the Beatles to Bill Gates, Gladwell shows us that although raw talent is a crucial factor in the equation for success, no incredibly successful person would have gotten anywhere before putting 10,000 hours of practice and experience into his or her respective craft.

in other words, it takes hours, days, weeks, and months of dedication to make a person a master anorexic, and it takes just as much {if not more} time and effort to make a person free.

so whether you're a fellow struggler or not {if not, you know you're a struggler of something} the very worst things about you are likely the very best. whatever destruction you've inflicted on yourself or on others could be birthed from the very parts of you that make you capable of greatness.

it was those parts of me that made me sick. and it's those parts of me that make me able to say i'm free.




  1. i love this EA. i need to transform the way i use those qualities in my life that make me so good at my ED to make me even better at life and freedom. thank you for this- i love your posts!

  2. you have always been incredibly passionate and now you are so incredibly wise. thank you for teaching me today. love you much- mrs. D