Not Enough Syndrome
I developed an eating disorder when I was 13. No one told me how, and at the time I didn’t even know that it had a label. I was going through my puberty stage and had tons of emotions and feelings. I remember going to my dad and telling him I was struggling with fear, insecurities, and teenage anxiety. My dad, being a pastor, responded with, “Go talk to God about it, go pray about it. Read Romans 7.” At the time I just wanted a dad, not a pastor, to validate me and tell me these feelings were normal and would pass. I remember eating a bunch of food, feeling full, and going to the bathroom. I stuck my finger down my throat and saw everything I had been holding inside. Every feeling, every fear, all my anxiety came out, and I felt this huge release.
I am not enough
For the next 14 years of my life whenever I felt insecure, hurt, unworthy, rejected I would turn to my bulimia to comfort and console me. Family would make comments that I was getting too thin, but I took this as an accomplishment. I was an over achiever with my eating disorder and in life. I graduated from high school in the honors program, did track in college, graduated from college with a decent grade point average, went to to work for a Congressman in Washington D.C, became the executive director of a company at 23, co-founded a company at 27 all while binging and purging 1–10 times a day. Not only did I struggle with bulimia but I also struggled with the, 'I’m not enough syndrome'. I never felt smart enough, pretty enough, Christian enough, and was constantly trying to prove to myself through outward validation that I was.
At 24 I got in a work accident that allowed me to have access to an unlimited supply of Vicodin and Valium. For the next 3 years I would try and juggle when to take my pills, when to binge and purge so I didn’t throw-up my numbing agent. I was functioning on the outside, but on the inside I was numb. Someone once said, “When you numb all the pain, you numb all the good too!” and that is absolutely true. I was trying to grab a hold of anything to fill the hole in my soul. I knew that hole could be filled by God, but I was too shameful and didn’t think he would accept me just as I was. I wasn’t enough for God but the truth was, God wasn’t enough for me. If God was enough why couldn’t I stop binging and purging? Why couldn’t I stop taking pills and smoking weed? Why couldn’t I just feel confident and secure in who I was?
I was watching the Hillsong documentary and one of the musicians said, “we are at our best when we are broken…Everyone’s on a journey…does everything make sense? Absolutely not, but I think more stuff doesn’t make sense without God.” At the time I didn’t feel my best in my brokenness, I felt alone and scared I would never get better. I remember in 2006 going to The Rock Church in San Diego, CA. In the bulletin under this weeks activities it said, Rock Recovery Tuesday Night. I had no idea what it was or what it meant, but I knew I needed recovery. I showed up and it was a 12-Step Bible study at a sober living home. There were about 50 people there sharing honestly about their addictions, fears, struggles and faith in God. It was the most real church I had ever been to. At the end we all stood in a circle holding hands saying the lords prayer together. I looked around and noticed the people: men with tattoos, men in suits, women who have sold their bodies, women who were soccer moms, criminals, judges, people who forged prescriptions, physicians who wrote prescriptions; and for one hour our titles, social status, color of our skin didn’t matter. We were all there for the same reason, we wanted hope.
After that Tuesday meeting people started telling me about other fellowship meetings, and that started my road to recovery. This has been a long journey for me, and just like pills and bulimia I wanted a quick fix. I wanted to do the work and then be better. What I realized was I had so many old tapes/messages from when I was a child that I had to start replacing them with new ones. It would take decades to rewire my brain, and many times I had to fake it. The 1st year I got into recovery I didn’t like myself, 2nd year didn’t like myself, 3rd year started to like myself, 4th year liked myself, 5th year started to love myself, 6th year loved myself, 7th year didn’t believe I was enough, 8th year started to believe I was enough, and 9th year knew I was enough. My old tapes could creep in and say, your unworthy or you will never be enough and even if I didn’t believe it I had to re-affirm myself and say you are worthy and you are enough just the way you are. I realized that the darkness would pass, but I would have to help it.
Be who God meant for you to be...
Recovery doesn’t start from the same place for everyone, and my journey will be different than your journey. My relationship with God was transformed and just like Isaiah 61:3, “He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes” God has turned my tragedy into triumph. St. Catherine of Siena, said, “Be who God meant for you to be and you will set the world on fire.” What if we all lived our lives being who we were meant to be, accepting who we were meant to be, sharing with each other where we are at in this moment…I believe this world would be on fire!