frayed knees

Do you all know about me that I have an eating disorder? Have I ever told you that? I found myself wondering that, this weekend, as I was triggered by something, some perception of scarcity, and I temporarily lost impulse control.

I thought…would my blog readers even believe this? That a person who has made such a public stand for healthy living, food self-sufficiency, and communion with the natural world is right at this moment binging on frosting left over from a child’s birthday party?

This is my history. I picked up binging and purging when I was fifteen years old. I use those words “picked up” on purpose, because it felt so effortless. It was like the way you pick up something from a store. As a serious student of ballet, I knew other girls who were doing it. And then I was on a lightweight crew team and I had to weigh in to compete, and I was terrified I wouldn’t make the weight. I thought…I’ll try it.

Ten years later I was really, really sick.

At age 25 I finally went into therapy. There were short bursts of medication, lots of talking. Mostly I was finally ready to get better, so I did. Since then I have called myself “recovered.” But for years after I still didn’t like going into the kitchen by myself. Not even to get a glass of water.

I’ve had a hundred coping strategies, and I’m not ashamed of that. When experiencing any level of stress I have to make sure I won’t run out of food. If I’m staying at someone else’s house, I’ll pack a block of cheese in a plastic baggie. At a conference, I put a bowl of fruit in the hotel room. And of course I’ve done so much work on my self-worth…whole books worth of work on my self-worth. I have needed every moment of the work I’ve done.

You could say I got a little cocky, in these last few years. I had such a great experience of healing. It was real, I swear. I had such success with the practice of growing my own food, and making my meals out of that food. I was drawing my sustenance right out of the lush and abundant earth. And it was good. It was really, really good.

It was about a year ago that I realized I was slipping. Although moving to our yurt was a strong, brave move exactly toward the kind of sustenance that I had found so rewarding, it was also a long term move. It wasn’t going to happen instantly. In the meantime, I actually had less of my own produce. And on the wood stove it was so much harder to bake my own bread. I felt less control over my food supply. And when I feel less control… That’s when I get scared.

I want you to understand this, that for me disordered eating doesn’t happen because I am not knowledgable about healthy eating. It happens because I AM. I have had a great deal of information about the problems with our food supply, since I was quite young. And sometimes the guilt related to all of that pushes me the wrong way…right into fear instead of into faith. Sometimes I make worse choices, because of what I know. Sometimes I just feel powerless to face it all.

There’s Monsanto and there’s genetically modified crops and there’s the CAFO feedlots and food deserts and abuse of migrant and immigrant laborers and there’s so much sugar in our kids’ lives. And sometimes, knowing all this…just makes me want to eat frosting right out of the can.

I’ve been reluctant to share this here. I didn’t know if this would make sense to people…that all these things that I am MOST passionate about are also the areas where I am weak and unfinished. I didn’t know if it would make sense that I move hard into systems that promote healthy sustenance because I can’t always do that for myself. Not by myself.

I need this to get better in the wider world, because I can’t do it by myself. 

Today I thought…I’ll go ahead and call on grace. I’ll call on grace. Not the kind where we settle for our weaknesses and grit our teeth and endure. But the kind where we have faith in healing, the kind where we know we’re moving through all these darknesses and these imperfections, the way a shadow moves across a valley.

It is likely that I will always be triggered, now and then, probably for my whole life. But that doesn’t invalidate my journey, or mean that I have nothing to offer to this conversation. My wound is a real wound, but it doesn’t make me any less of a full person. It doesn’t make me any less capable of leadership, or any less capable of walking forward into a Kingdom dream, even a dream of sustainable food systems and healthier living.

Grace is this, too…sometimes. Grace is just taking one step forward right from where you are. Or if you can’t yet move your feet, just reaching out a hand. Grace is knowing that the hope of healing is true, even if you’re living a moment where your own hands aren’t the best example of it. It’s pushing back against the lie that you are named by your wounds. Because even in the darker moments, still; you are named by Grace.


I linked up this week with a Sunday morning link-up at Lisha Epperson’s place, called #GiveMeGrace. Lots of beautiful, powerful faith words over there. Go check it out, and if you’re a faith blogger, consider linking up!