Eating Disorder, God, Recovery

The Thistle, The Root, and The Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is like a thistle:
Deeply rooted and full of stickers to keep support people away.
But the stickers also keep someone else very important away:


We are all familiar with thistles. They are green, obnoxious, incredibly prickly, fast-growing and ALWAYS seem to be thriving. That is, they are always thriving unless the person tending to the weeds gets them out at the root. One cannot rid a flowerbed of thistles simply by snapping the prickly leaves and stem off at the ground level. No, the person tending to the weeds must pull harder, wiggle gently at the base, and sometimes dig out a trusty trowel from their toolbox in order to the get root. Once the root has successfully been removed there is a void in the ground, or sometimes a gaping hole from the use of a trowel, that needs to be filled. If the void isn’t filled with nutrient dense soil and a fruitful seed it is likely the thistle will return and the process will need repeated. This is how weeding my flowerbed became symbolic of my journey through recovery.

Much like the description of a person tending to weeds in a flowerbed, I am tending to the weed in my life: my eating disorder. My eating disorder is big, though not as big as it was, and full of prickly stickers that seek to keep me away. Though I have managed to snap off some of the leaves, a thick, prickly stem and root remain. While I don’t often engage in eating disordered behaviors they still exist, to a degree, in my life. Therefore, that is why I say there is still a thick stem because every now and then a leaf will sprout out as I choose to use a behavior because it seems easier than reaching out and touching the prickly stem. However, the biggest concern is still the root. The root is evil. The root is the heart of the thistle and until I take the necessary steps to remove it, the stem and leaves will continue to thrive in my life. After so long the stickers become so large I am afraid to go close, afraid to explore what is at the root of my eating disorder. In my 16 years of fear the root has grown deeper and is harder to pull. Unwilling to experience the pain of touching the stickers, I allow the eating disorder to grow; continuously clipping the leaves and trimming the stem, all while ignoring the root of the evil in my life. I have been completely unwilling to explore what is at the core of my eating disorder. Until I decide to go close, experience the pain of touching the prickly stickers and get to the root, the weed will always return because it was never truly gone.

That being said, in recent weeks I have decided it is time to touch the stem. It is time to experience the pain of that exposure and start wiggling, pulling, and potentially digging to get the root out. I’ve been given the trowel and gloves in the form of my therapist, and my dietician has provided me with the nutrient dense soil to help a new seed grow. As I work to remove the root I am creating more space for a new seed to be planted but I need to make sure I get the entire root or the thistle can easily return; wrecking havoc in my life.

What new seed will I plant? How will I fill that void–or gaping hole–in my life? Those questions barely crossed my mind because the seed has actually already been planted, now I just need to give it room to thrive in the nutrient dense soil of God’s Word. Once I remove the root, the seed can take a firm hold and begin to truly fill the void my eating disorder filled for so long. The seed, my friends, is God. Giving God that place in my life and the nutrient dense soil means He can help a beautiful flower to grow in the thistle’s place.

It is high time to roll up my sleeves and truly begin to dig out the root.
I am ready to fully recover.
[Are you?]

With Body Love,

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