Excitement. Freedom. A whole new world. These were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I emerged from my first successful purge, nine years ago.
Torture. Slavery. Hell on earth. These were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I emerged from my one thousandth successful purge.
What I initially thought was a friendly weight loss tool, turned out to be a weapon of my own destruction. My concern grew when the whole “take-it-or-leave-it” mentality began fading with the dawn of a new “I-have-to” mindset. Planning my binge-purge began taking the center stage of my life. I quickly realized the need to become my own binge-purge event planner. Plans often came before family and friends. More and more often, they came before my husband and even before my children, and these realities ate at me deeper with every bite I took, which I would later purge. But, by the time I tried to stop, I was riding a runaway train. And the images, events, and emotions of my life became but blurry shadows of what they were truly meant to be. I never truly tasted food. I was unable to share in the fellowship that takes place over a meal. I was so constantly hungry that my thoughts could think of nothing else, and, even if I could think of something else, it was without the clarity and sharpness I was used to.
An example of this could be summed up on my wedding day. A couple of months leading up to our wedding, my fiancé, having found out my secret, asked me to promise him I would never do “it” again. Of course, after saying through great sobbing and tears that he did not have to marry me still, I promised. Without a moment’s hesitation and without one lingering hint of regret, I promised. I was thrilled and ready to throw a freedom party. I would never break a promise to my fiancé. I was free! And so I was … up to the wedding day and for most of our honeymoon. I stopped binging and purging. But I also stopped eating. I remember my (then) fiancé coming to sit by me on the couch with a small bowl of grapes. Maybe there were eight grapes at most. It was with great anxiety and fear that I ate a few before casually getting up and discretly discarding the rest. I remember trying to hide my frame from my mom, when we would go for the wedding dress fittings. That year I had gone from 130 pounds to hovering over 100. I had simply exchanged one weight loss tool for another. And the gift my weight loss tool gave me the morning of my wedding day was being unable to emotionally feel anything. I woke up for the last time as Aubrey Crist, in my own bedroom, in my family’s house, about to marry the man who far surpassed any of my dreams … and I felt nothing. My capacity for feeling emotions seemed to vanish with every pound that was lost. Driving on our way to church, I remember telling my mom that I did not feel anything, and so was my first attempt at asking help for what everyone already knew.
Flying home from our honeymoon, I found myself in the airplane bathroom with my finger down my throat. It felt like a cheery little demon had returned to his familiar little perch on my shoulder. I left the bathroom scared and afraid. It was back. Embarrassed and ashamed, I only hoped Jesus would be willing to hear my faint “Help me!” But then, also for the first time, I began to wonder if this was a monster I could not conquer, if maybe I was not a true Christian. The words of I John 5:18 haunted me, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”
I found myself overcome with the paralyzing fear of doubt. I could not be a believer and be a bulimic. The only way to solve this growing shadow of death in my mind was to somehow conquer this on my own. I allowed myself the prayer, “Jesus, help me!” But as for reading my Bible or in depth prayer, I was too conscious of the scarlet letter on my chest. If I could go for a few days, possibly a week, without binge-purging, then I might allow myself to set eyes on Scripture. I needed to prove I was worthy before I could start reading my Bible again. I needed to allow the stench of puke to begin to have lost its odor before I could come to Christ, and in doing so, did I but know it, I was laying down the very weapons that Christ, with His own blood, had bought for me. My sword and shield gathered dust daily as I, naked and blind, swung aimlessly in the dark at an enemy far greater than I thought. But all the while, my Jesus was there, patiently wiping the barf from my face, patiently scrubbing the containers I was contaminating, patiently waiting for his daughter to see HE WAS THERE. And He was for me. And if He was for me, nothing, not even bulimia could stand against me.