My life feels really scary right now. Okay, let me rephrase. My life has been scary for a very long time, but it feels especially scary right now. I’ve had to fight for every little scrap of ground I’ve been able to obtain and I’ve had to work incredibly hard, expending every tiny bit of energy I could muster just to make it through the day each day. Day after day. Year after year. Decade after decade. After a horribly abusive childhood filled with sexual, physical and emotional abuse, I’ve had a lot of rebuilding to do. The damage has been massive and daunting. Overwhelming. Frightening. As a result, I’ve had struggles others never have. The kind that aren’t especially generally accepted or embraced. The kind you aren’t supposed to have and certainly aren’t supposed to talk about. You know, like depression and hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness and isolation and attempted suicide. And an eating disorder. I’ve long been baffled by my eating disorder. It doesn’t help, I know it doesn’t help, in fact, in many ways it makes things worse. BUT I NEED IT AND I CAN’T LET IT GO. And why do I need it? What positive thing is it doing for me that is so powerful it compels me to tenaciously resist all efforts to change? The understanding has eluded me. I’ve read books, listened to others, talked to my counselor. And there’s one thing everyone consistently says about it. Yep, I’ve heard it over and over again, enough times from enough people to give me pause…it’s about control. That it gives you this false sense of control over your life. Somehow. But I don’t get that. Because I’m so obviously NOT in control! However, last night as I was purging for the 3rd time of the evening in spite of my efforts not to, I think I finally got a spark of insight. I either withhold food or I binge and purge. I’m a good purger…I can get just about everything out and my low weight is a testimony to how thoroughly I rid myself of whatever I put in my stomach. But binging is uncomfortable. Not just physically uncomfortable. There’s this panic… “Will I be able to get it all out this time? What if I can’t? Oh, God!” It’s terrifying at that point in the cycle, so there is a tremendous amount of relief when one is able to purge and purge well after a binge. I call it “getting back to okay.” When I get back to okay, I can do something other than fight with my eating disorder for an hour or two at a time. Until the cycle starts again. So last night as I was “getting back to okay,” I kind of got a peek at how this whole process parallels my life. And that’s the key. That it parallels life. My life, as I have mentioned, is scary. It’s a nightmare, really, and has been always. The reasons for the nightmare have changed over the years. A childhood filled with abuse. A marriage without love, filled with rejection and never being good enough. Working crazy hours for low pay and with no recognition. Struggling to find a way to live with so much internal damage while not letting it show. Divorce. Job loss. Financial problems. No connections. No resources. No reserves. Huge debt. I am in terror of what is going to happen next and totally unsure I will be able to make it successfully through the next crisis or disaster. I literally can’t sleep because of the grip terror has on my heart. Everything feels totally out of…control. So here is my life: frightening, chaotic, empty, hard, unfulfilling. I’m still broken from my childhood and have been broken further by all that has come after. And that panic and terror? They’re a lot like the panic and terror I feel just before a purge. OMG, WHAT HAVE I DONE…WHAT IF I CAN’T GET THIS ALL OUT (what if I can’t make it through this)!!! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!!! HOW AM I GOING TO DEAL WITH THIS AWFUL, HORRIBLE MESS!!!!! And then, I throw it all up, watch it go down the toilet and…ahhhhh. Back to okay. Crisis averted. It doesn’t last. That’s why I have to do it again and again and again. I’m trying to gain control over my out-of-control life. By recreating the nightmare and dealing with it by flushing it down the toilet. It doesn’t fix anything. It doesn’t change anything. As I said, in many ways, it makes things worse. But for a few minutes, I can breathe. For a short period of time, I feel a little relief. I get a small break. I can deal with my messy, messed up life a little bit longer. Mission accomplished. Crisis averted. Until the pressure builds and the cycle starts again. Then I bow to the toilet and release my pain and fear one…more…time…as I pray for relief and favor and a way out of the nightmare that is my world.