A Memoir of Resurrection
I’m excited! The time is almost here! After nearly 5 years of hard work my memoir: Little Girl Crying: My life-long struggle with anorexia nervosa and the prayer that saved my life, is exactly one week away from its official launch date of August 11. So this week I thought I’d give you a sneak peek into the book and post the Preface and Introduction.
Many of you that have followed me for a long time now know that I battled anorexia nervosa and depression for most of my life. You might also know I experienced a miracle healing through an encounter with the Divine — an extraordinary encounter let me add! That experience not only healed me, but resurrected my life setting me on a new path. It gave my life a new purpose and meaning.
I’d also like to mention that there will be a music CD coming very soon to accompany the book. One of my longtime dreams has been to be a lyricist. So, I’ve written song lyrics from the poetry and themes in the book. From there I found a group of great musicians to help me get it recorded. It is turning out oh so much better than I could have ever imagined! I’m really looking forward to sharing it with you very soon.
So I won’t waste anymore time, and I” let you get to the Preface and Introduction. I hope you enjoy this preview! See you on the other side …. 🙂
PREFACE Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. James 5:13
I came very close to never writing the book you now hold in your hands. Looking back can be painful, especially when reflections of the past are as horrifying as mine. War is never pretty, especially when that war is so intimate and personal. This war addresses the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual battle that raged within my soul for decades against two powerful dark adversaries – anorexia nervosa and depression. My war stories tell of past events that are often almost too bitter, too painful and too difficult to recall, much less share with the world. As an introvert, I cherish my privacy, and so, I struggled not knowing if I would ever find the courage to fully share this story. To do so meant I had to share the Voice that was the command center of the eating disorder’s power, and which assumed control over my entire existence. Doing that might mean some would think me crazy. After all, that Voice is what coerced me into behavior no rational person would deem sane. But the Voice wasn’t the voice of insanity; it was the voice of the eating disorder itself. I can only describe it as a kind of possession by a twisted, sick, sadistic inner critic gone wild. For me that voice was beyond loud – it was deafening. Yet I knew – I knew in spite of my fear and any stigma that might attach to me for speaking out – that it was specifically the Voice, the key component of my eating disorder, that needed to be addressed so that families whose own loved ones are suffering from eating disorders might understand this illness on a more profound level. Knowledge is power, and hopefully with it comes a better understanding, so that families of ED victims may find greater compassion for their suffering loved ones. It is my belief that the more compassionate family and friends can be, the less alone the sufferer will feel amidst their inner torment. But it wasn’t just the courage aspect of sharing my story. There were also other major concerns that gave me pause. My life has been difficult, dark and depressing. Why would others want to read about it? And how could I possibly divulge my deepest secrets, exposing myself to a harshly critical and judgmental world? I knew that to tell this story in the way it must be told meant baring all. There were times when the thought of writing this book left me overwhelmed and paralyzed at just how daunting it would be to tell a story spanning decades. Yet, something deep inside kept nudging me. I knew that despite my fears the day would one day come when I’d face that blank sheet of paper in my typewriter, and I’d struggle to muster the courage to face the long-buried memories of a forbidding past. Over the years I’ve had many people – from the director of a national eating disorder association to my own Mom – encourage me to write this book. But the truth was that the time wasn’t right; the battle had not yet been won, and ultimately this was meant to be a story of God’s light triumphing over darkness, and not simply the story of the trials and sufferings of a woman with an eating disorder. So why tell my story at all? Why not allow all those dark secrets and hurtful memories to remain locked safely away where they can never harm me again? The answer is simple; this is, at its core, a story about Divine Love. The dark history of my life is merely the backdrop to that story; a story that in the end proved to be a spiritual journey about survival, transformation, miracles, the power of prayer and God’s grace. After my incredible encounter with God – the miracle that healed the eating disorder – I knew this story had to be told, that at last it was time. This story had now become so much bigger than just me. My experience of God – my own personal miracle, that touch of God’s grace – was a testament of His amazing love, goodness and mercy that needed to be shouted from the rooftops. In that moment of grace when God gave me the ultimate victory over the dark forces of anorexia and depression that had dominated my life for so many decades, I realized my story was a message of hope and light from a loving God to a suffering world. Suddenly all the fears and insecurities I’d had about sharing my life story fell away, and the courage and strength to write these words replaced them. I knew I wasn’t alone in this task, and that my loving Heavenly Father would guide me through it, because in the end this book is for His glory. And guide me He did! Whatever and whoever I needed to help me write this book just seemed to come into my life. Each day before I sat down to write, I prayed for His guidance that I might tell this story in a way that it would not only help others, but most of all glorify Him. I have to say that I have never felt His presence with me any more powerfully than when I was writing this book. I don’t know why God chose to heal me after all those years. I don’t believe for one second that He healed me because I am any more deserving or special than the next person. But I’d like to believe that just maybe it was because He knew that as a writer I would go forth and share this story of His amazing love and grace with you, so that in your suffering – no matter what form that suffering takes in your life – you too might find yourself being led by grace into a divine intimacy with Him – a journey in prayer unlike any you’ve ever experienced. It is my hope that in sharing my own experiences of the contemplative path, that you might come to see contemplative spirituality for what it is – a gift that leads us into the heart of God and His transforming love. Contemplative spirituality has brought untold blessings into my life, not the least of which is love. After searching all of my life – literally dying to be loved – I found that love I’d so long ached for resting in God’s everlasting arms in the Prayer of Silence. Then there is the incredible blessing – the miracle of resurrection that I experienced deep in the Prayer of Silence. Here, resting in God’s presence, my heart, mind and soul were healed, the Voice stilled and my life transformed. This is the healing and transformational power possible on the path of contemplative spirituality – this is the good news I’d like to share with you. For me, the Prayer of Silence is truly the prayer that saved my life, and I will be eternally grateful for the heavenly grace that led me into its depths.
INTRODUCTION Falling Down the Rabbit-Hole
“The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.” ~Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
In sixth grade I landed the lead role as Alice in our grade school production of Alice in Wonderland. Though much of that childhood performance has now long since faded from memory, I still vividly recall the scene where Alice fell down the rabbit-hole. I can still see my twelve-year-old self trying to simulate Alice tumbling down that rabbit-hole by swaying to and fro, like a tree bending in the wind and repeating the lines, “I’m falling … falling … falling.” The truth is, I was about to fall to the bottom of my very own and very real rabbit-hole. But unlike Alice, my Adventure in Wonderland wouldn’t contain magical characters. In my land of fantasy there would be no wonder awaiting me. This would be a much more sinister adventure than Alice’s. Mine would be a crazy, mixed-up world, where the skinnier you got, the fatter you felt. Here you avoided food at all costs, yet obsessed so much about it that it followed you into your dreams. Hunger pangs were power and control and being able to run five miles while feeling them was a state of bliss. This was the Land of Anorexia Nervosa, and once you arrived there your life would change forever. My journey to Wonderland began innocently enough. I just wanted to lose a few pounds because I thought my stomach was too fat. In truth, it wasn’t. At nearly 5’7” tall and 112 pounds, I wasn’t even overweight. My distorted thinking was a coping mechanism for a young girl who had been dying inside for a long time. I thought I wanted to be as skinny as my best friend, Valerie. “If I could just be as skinny as her, if I could just get rid of this fat stomach, everyone would like me too!” I reasoned. So, the dieting began. You have to understand that in the 1970s, eating disorders weren’t the epidemic they are today. In fact, they were for the most part unheard of, the exception being case histories in the medical literature covering this bizarre illness of self-imposed starvation. In the small town where I lived, there weren’t eating disorder units, there were just mental wards in psychiatric hospitals. I had never heard of anorexia nervosa. I had no way of understanding what I was getting myself into at the time. I didn’t foresee that the rabbit-hole I’d just fallen into would take me nearly forty years to climb out of and would nearly cost me my life many times over. The twists and turns of my Adventure in Wonderland led me to dark and chilling places, the like of which I thought only existed in scary movies. There were sixteen hospitalizations that included everything from ER visits to critical care to mental hospitals, and each one was a story in itself. Along the way there were forced feedings and painful potassium drips that made my arms ache, burn and throb. There were suicide attempts when I could no longer endure the depression from being trapped in this frightening netherworld at the bottom of the rabbit-hole. There were psychoanalysts and psychiatrists with their array of drugs, which not only caused life-threatening adverse reactions that included tremors, debilitating anxiety and a constant state of being drugged, but even went so far as to cause a psychotic breakdown. There were psychologists, one of whom even attempted to sexually assault me. There were social workers, dietitians, priests and nuns, all well-meaning but clueless as how to understand anorexia enough to help me. None of them would be able to rescue me or help me climb into the freedom I so desperately sought. That’s the thing about anorexia, you might think you have control over it, but once this illness sucks you in, it has totalitarian power over you. Then there are psychological issues regarding why I ever became anorexic in the first place. For me, that list was long and complex. There was no single issue or person; there were many factors that played a part. A childhood of abuse and bullying led to a constant state of fear with only one safe place of refuge – the divine arms of my imaginary friend Jesus. He alone was my solace from the frightening world of a dysfunctional home where I felt abandoned by a father who was abusive in almost every sense of the word and by a mother who was emotionally closed off, shutting down when everything hit the fan. But my home life wasn’t the only issue. As well as the long line of bullies at school – beginning in second grade and continuing through high school – there were the betrayals, such as the ill-fated night I was raped by someone I knew, cared for and trusted, that plunged me even deeper into the depths of the rabbit-hole. It appeared that the cards had been stacked against me from an early age, and I spent a lot of time growing up asking myself why. I was a good girl; kind, sweet, thoughtful, quiet and always trying to please everyone. I was a young, devoted Catholic girl who loved the Lord more than anything in my life, even to the point where I considered a religious vocation. “Why me?” became the question I often asked God. Or was life just not fair? Was I just a victim of circumstance or was there something deeper, something spiritual at work in my life? I would have to endure many, many years of living with an eating disorder and a deep, immobilizing depression, both of which seemed intent on destroying me physically, mentally and spiritually, leaving me with just one weapon to fight my battle … prayer. For years I felt lost and abandoned by a God I still loved deeply. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t make sense of it all. Why had He left me in such darkness? Where was He? Yet it would be that deep devotion I continued to feel for Jesus through the dark nights, and my relationship with Him, that would in the end save my life … banish the darkness … still the Voice of anorexia … and heal me in a most miraculous way. While this story is about my long dark decades of struggle to survive the ravaging effects of anorexia, bulimia and suicidal depression, I need to say right from the start that this is not intended as a tale of woe. This is not a misery memoir. In truth it is a message of hope and a story of God’s love for us all. It is a story of great suffering, yes, but from that suffering God created something good. Mine is a story that speaks about surviving the odds through the grace of God’s love, the power of the Prayer of Silence, and the miracles possible in God’s loving presence. At its core it is a love story between a soul and its divine creator. Because it would be that deep love and devotion I always held for the Lord and the unfailing love He has for each one of us that would eventually heal the decades of battling against an eating disorder that left me isolated and alone, and led the medical profession to declare me a lost cause. Through God’s grace, I came to know His love not just as something I read about, but something I felt and experienced as real and tangible. In one life-transforming moment, He lifted the veil just enough to allow me to truly experience that divine love – just enough to let a sad, broken soul know how deeply and truly loved she was – just enough to heal and transform my life. He gave that wounded inner child – the little girl crying – the thing she’d been dying for her entire life. Love. Along the way, I discovered that prayer wasn’t just about talking to God, but about listening to Him and resting in His presence in the quiet. When I became silent, turning within to seek Him, I came to know my Creator intimately, not just as a God who was out there somewhere in the great beyond, but as “Abba”, my Heavenly Father whose presence was not just with me, but within me … and would remain there always. He is the Father who was everything I’d ever dreamt of in a father and more.
Into the stillness – the quiet I go. Seeking the One who loves me so. I hear Him beckon, I hear Him call… Into arms of love I surrender, I fall! O let Thy gaze of love smile upon me. Let my spirit be healed – transformed in Thee! O sweet divine presence draw ever near. In perfect peace banish my every fear. Arise O my soul – rejoice in the beloved! Be restored – be renewed – in divine love.
All things are possible through prayer. I pray that in sharing my journey you too may find through God’s grace and love, the comfort and healing you seek in your pain and suffering. Never doubt for a second the power He has to restore and renew a life, or that such miracles don’t include you. I am living proof that miracles happen – and if they can happen for me, they can happen for you, too.
(C) 2018 Adoration Press
Although I usually end my posts with prayer, today I’d like to ask you to pray for me. Not me specifically, but this ministry … this book, and this work. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of adversity I have faced in getting the book and now the CD into the world. My pastor says that’s a sure sign this work will do great things for God’s kingdom. If that be so, I am humbled and grateful to be called to serve Him in this way. I have always believed that this is first and foremost God’s work. Not only Little Girl Crying, but all my work is meant to inspire and lift up God’s people, and most of all to glorify Him. I want my message to go out as far and wide as the Holy Spirit wants to take it because it is a powerful story of God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and miracles. Yes, it is a story of great suffering, and that part is intense. But it is also an incredible story of resurrection! It’s a message for those that suffer most among us — never, ever give up, because our God is not a has-been God but a living God that’s still among us performing miracles just as He did 2000 years ago.
In Christ’s Love,
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