Saturday, May 30, 2015

Not All Surprises are Bad


 

Featured in the June 2015 issue of Serene Scene Magazine, Cruse discusses the connection involving complicated father-child relationships, the pain of unmet need/ unconditional love experiences and the addiction and disorder responses which often surface concerning those issues.


 

Cross-Addiction: A Way That Seems Right?


 

May 30th’s Christians In Recovery features Cruse’s article which discusses the role cross- addiction plays in the recovery process.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Recovery: Practice, Practice, Practice


 

Featured in May 28th’s Christians in Recovery, Cruse discusses the ever present reality of imperfect “practice” concerning the recovery process.


 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

It Takes One To Know One


 

It’s been said “hindsight is twenty-twenty.” It has also been said, “It takes one to know one.”

Unfortunately, we’re aware of these truths only after they have occurred. We are blissfully ignorant before the experience and in stubborn denial during the experience.

It’s been years into my recovery from eating disorders now and it is in this particular stage where I see the hindsight revelation of the “It takes one to know one” concept repeating in my life.

The first occurrence? Well, that was at the apex of my anorexic condition. I was a college freshman, hell-bent on reinvention; I wanted as much distance from my teenage overweight self as possible. Hence, the serious restriction of calories, interspersed with starvation periods and the accompanying excessive exercise (up to six hours a day). My freshman year, therefore, found me whittling to smaller and smaller weights. To those unfamiliar of my former self, I was only seen as thin and tiny. But, to those who knew me “way back when?” Well, I couldn’t quite convince them everything was fine.

Carrie (not her real name) attended both the same high school and now the same college as I did; she was a year older…and anorexic. And, as I started college, she was keenly interested in my changed appearance. It started out casual at the start of the school year (my weight had not yet drastically plummeted); she remarked about my weight loss. However, by spring, I was at a disturbingly low weight- and that’s when she pounced.

During that term, we took the same world history course and Carrie pulled me aside one day after class. She, once again, remarked about my weight loss. And then she gently revealed she battled with anorexia and expressed concerned that I was veering down the same path.

My response? I felt I was “caught,” but, as eating disorder sufferers are often prone to do in the grips of their disorders, I lied, telling her I was “fine.” No, of course, I was not anorexic. My racing mind panicked, reassuring myself with statements like, “Don’t be ridiculous! That kind of thing doesn’t happen to me.” But Carrie read my mail. I knew I had to show her how un-rattled I was by her confrontation and get out of there pronto!!

Once I extricated myself from that encounter, I thought I was safe and had fooled everyone.

Nope.

Cut to the middle of that following summer. Because Carrie and I both came from a small town, it wasn’t unheard of for us to run into each other. Both of us were on summer break; both were living at home until the fall term started. And, because there was only one major mall in our small town locale, this was the meeting place of yet another “It takes one to know one” encounter.

I must admit, the store to run into her was a bit odd. Because of my already intense eating disorder behaviors, I tried to occupy my mind with anything I could think of. One of my latest “answers” was crafting. Yes, that’s right, I said crafting. I guess I believed pipe cleaners and cross stitch kits could save me. So, I was a regular at the mall’s hobby store.

I was close to my lowest weight, attempting to keep from passing out, while looking at a dollhouse miniature section. Carrie appeared out of nowhere. Again, I felt busted. I had lost another ten pounds; I was severely emaciated looking. Carrie started some chitchat, but, c’mon, we both knew the score. Again, she was as gentle as she could be, but eventually, she brought up the dreaded words, “eating disorder.” And I had no where I had to be. I had no class I needed to escape to, nothing pressing to do. I just had to stand there in front of the dollhouse miniatures and be cornered by the truth.

“It takes one to know one” was getting too close to home.

And it wouldn’t be until many years later when I would experience the other side of this phenomenon. After the publication of my book, I had a signing event in Oregon.

A young anorexic woman was eyeing me for the entire four hours the event took place. She kept pacing by the bookstore. But make no mistake, she made it a point to keep her distance. I recognized not only her gaunt frame, but her baggy clothes and darting eyeballs. Those features had once been mine. There was this weird synergy of “I know you know” going on between us. Finally, after four hours of her pacing, lurking and eyeing me, she rushed the book table, spurting, “I had gone through it, but not the six hour exercise stuff you did.” And then she took off. I think she left skid marks.

Perhaps she wanted to talk, to connect, but was spooked by the discomfort of her reality- and presence of the other people there. But, in that moment, I saw how when we are in any kind of dysfunction or disorder, there’s still a part of us which wants help.

Sometimes, yes, it does “take one to know one.”

Admitting the ugly truth is scary; there’s risk of rejection, pain and discomfort. We risk losing our precious control. We enter the intimidating unknown instead of relying on our comforting and familiar disease. Nevertheless, we need help.

Right now, is there someone out there who is experiencing the exact same thing? It’s worth reaching out. Perhaps, if we approached the adage of, “It takes one to know one” with an outlook of help and healing, instead of as a threat, we’d experience who we truly are supposed to be.

And that, itself, is worth knowing all about!

Disordered eating and image issues can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or socio-economic factors. Just because someone doesn’t “fit” the stereotype, doesn’t mean they’re not afflicted. It’s not just a “girl thing.” It’s a life-threatening disease and needs treatment. If you suspect someone is suffering, please reach out with love and support. Here are some helpful strategies to do just that.

When You Want to Help Someone You Care About

What to do if…

If your child is younger than 18

Get professional help immediately. You have a legal and moral responsibility to get your child the care s/he needs. Don’t let tears, tantrums, or promises to do better stop you. Begin with a physical exam and psychological evaluation.



If the physician recommends hospitalization, do it. People die from these disorders, and sometimes they need a structured time out to break entrenched patterns.



If the counselor asks you to participate in family sessions, do so. Children spend only a few hours a week with their counselors. The rest of the time they live with their families. You need as many tools as you can get to help your child learn new ways of coping with life.



If your friend is younger than 18

Tell a trusted adult—parent, teacher, coach, pastor, school nurse, school counselor, etc.—about your concern. If you don’t, you may unwittingly help your friend avoid the treatment s/he needs to get better.



Even though it would be hard, consider telling your friend’s parents why you are concerned. S/he may be hiding unhealthy behaviors from them, and they deserve to know so they can arrange help and treatment. If you cannot bear to do this yourself, ask your parents or perhaps the school nurse for help.



If the person is older than 18

Legally the person is now an adult and can refuse treatment if s/he is not ready to change. Nevertheless, reach out. Tell her/him that you are concerned. Be gentle. Suggest that there has to be a better way to deal with life than starving and stuffing. Encourage professional help, but expect resistance and denial. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink—even when he is thirsty—if he is determined to follow his own path.

 

Some Things to Do…

•• Talk to the person when you are calm, not frustrated or emotional. Be kind. The person is probably ashamed and fears criticism and rejection.

•• Mention evidence you have heard or seen that suggests disordered eating. Don’t dwell on appearance or weight. Instead talk about health, relationships (withdrawal?), and mood.

•• Realize that the person will not change until s/he wants to.

•• Provide information. http://www.anred.com

•• Be supportive and caring. Be a good listener and don’t give advice unless you are asked to do so. Even then, be prepared to have it ignored.

•• Continue to suggest professional help. Don’t pester. Don’t give up either.

•• Ask: “Is what you are doing really working to get you what you want?”

•• Talk about the advantages of recovery and a normal life.

•• Agree that recovery is hard, but emphasize that many people have done it.

•• If s/he is frightened to see a counselor, offer to go with her the first time.

•• Realize that recovery is the person’s responsibility, not yours.

•• Resist guilt. Do the best you can and then be gentle with yourself.

 

Some Things Not to Do…

•• Never nag, plead, beg, bribe, threaten, or manipulate. These things don’t work.

•• Avoid power struggles. You will lose.

•• Never criticize or shame. These tactics are cruel, and the person will withdraw.

•• Don’t pry. Respect privacy.

•• Don’t be a food monitor. You will create resentment and distance in the relationship.

•• Don’t try to control. The person will withdraw and ultimately outwit you.

•• Don’t waste time trying to reassure your friend that s/he is not fat. S/he will not be convinced.

•• Don’t get involved in endless conversations about weight, food, and calories. They make matters worse.

•• Don’t give advice unless asked.

•• Don’t expect the person to follow your advice even if s/he asked for it.

•• Don’t say, “You are too thin.” S/he will secretly celebrate.

•• Don’t say, “It’s good you have gained weight.” S/he will lose it.

•• Don’t let the person always decide when, what, and where you will eat. She should not control everything, every time.

•• Don’t ignore stolen food and evidence of purging. Insist on responsibility.

•• Don’t overestimate what you can accomplish.

 

ANRED: When You Want to Help Someone You Care About. <http://www.anred.com/hlp.html>. Used with permission.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Honey Boo Boo’s Weight Loss



Still trying to process the following current event…

“Slowly shrinking. Alana ‘Honey Boo Boo’ Thompson, whose unhealthy eating choices were well-documented on reality TV, is getting a little healthier month-by-month.

After dropping almost eight pounds in a month, her mother, ‘Mama June’ Shannon was in a celebratory mood.

Posting a photo on Instagram of her daughter standing on a scale, ‘Mama June’ said she was "so proud" of her daughter.



How is Honey Boo Boo doing it? The old fashioned way — ‘Just by eating smaller portions and walking,’ June said, while crediting celebrity trainer Natasha Fett.

June, though, wasn't entirely in a festive mood. In the same post, she took time to blast the TV show ‘The Doctors,’ saying her daughter lost nothing while she appeared on the show for its 10 week program. Mama June also said that she's dropped 45 pounds in just over a month, as well. This was all due to Natasha, she said, not the TV show's routine.

Natasha, June said, ‘encouraged us when we felt like we couldn't or didn't what to do it,’ adding that the celebrity trainer ‘genuinely cares about us.’”

As an overweight child, placed on my first diet, I get uneasy at the focus of weight loss concerning a child. I talk about its impact in my book, “Thin Enough…”

“Our buzz phrase was, ‘When we get down to our right weight…’ Of course, that must mean we were at our wrong weight... I was becoming so very aware of exactly how unacceptable I was... It was frequently pointed out to me. Diets were first. Then came the insults, the jokes, the strategies… Comments like, ‘You’re looking a little pudgy lately,’ and ‘Be careful, honey, you don’t want to get much fatter now’ came from my family and neighbors...

…I hated one comment most of all... In a patronizing, sickly sweet voice, someone would say to me, ‘You have such a pretty face, if you’d just lose some weight…’ There! So my body was what was wrong with me after all! It hurt even more because this comment dangled the hope of beauty, and yet placed the blame on me, a little girl, for not achieving it. It was my fault...”

So, what was set in motion was my eating disorder road of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, self-hatred and a spiritual crisis, all hinging upon the following lie:

“I am not acceptable- by anyone, God included.”

“Right weight…”

I risked my life, health and spiritual connection with God, all due to the negative gravity of those words.

Aren’t we still, celebrity by celebrity, person by person, demanding a “right (perfect) weight” standard which is elusive, impossible to achieve, let alone, maintain?

I hear those words not just from my childhood, but for us at large today. It’s a whisper; it’s a scream. It’s a snarky remark. But somewhere, those words linger, don’t they?

Again, I trot out good ole’ Song of Solomon 2:14

O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.”

Form. Whatever it is, whatever size and shape it is. God is not confining it to a limited definition. Why are we?

Words are powerful, healing or deadly because they are ideas. And, whether or not “right weight” is audible, its message and influence are still strong. We have the idea there is such a thing as “right weight” and we spend our entire lives chasing it and even, perhaps, hating ourselves.

This was not what God created our forms to be.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Power of Words


 

Featured in May 14th’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse discusses the importance of positive words during the eating disorder recovery process.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Where Would Mom Be Without Her Perfect Nose?



In a scene from the series, “Mad Men” Betty and Sally, its mother and daughter characters, are fighting over the broken state of daughter’s “once perfect” nose.

 It addresses the importance appearance and perfection often play in life. At one point, daughter, Sally mocks her mother, “Where would Mom be without her perfect nose?”
 
 

With disordered image, eating and value issues plaguing our culture today, the perfection challenge is still with us. There’s an expectation of happiness, fulfilled dreams and banished sadness/loneliness which frequently comes attached to the perfection promise.

But the rude awakening to life is how imperfect it is.

Still, God has His perspective on not just perfection, but on His value of us as well:

 “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.”

Deuteronomy 18:13

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Deuteronomy 32:4

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”

2 Samuel 22:31; Psalms 18:31

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2

 “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

We are in process; we’re constantly changing…

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

It’s a message which needs much repeating, especially if we’re recovering from not just eating disorders and low self-esteem, but unrealistic perfectionism to boot.

We’re getting there. You are; I am. And, in the middle of everything which is imperfect, God still sees a perfection to us. We are that valuable. Period.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

“You’ll Always Be My Girl"



Yep, I am a “Mad Men” fan. There are just too many poignant scenes with incredible dialogue.

One such scene is taken from season three, episode one; it involves the character, Don Draper telling his daughter, Sally, “You’ll always be my girl.”


 

It’s moments like this one which have me rolodexing through my memory bank. The unconditional love situation has not been easy for me. Like so many of us who come from abusive, fractured or dysfunctional families, especially us females, that primal scream for loving permanence often goes unheard and is not reassuringly manifested the way we desire it to be.

Nevertheless, the “father hunger” doesn’t go away. It can compel many of us to, therefore, seek out the “You’ll always be my girl” promise in toxic relationships, addictions, eating disorders, perfectionism and overachievement. When one does not know love is unwavering and not predicated on performance, one then strives to earn it.

I make no secret of a painful experience with my dad. I chronicle it in my book.

“...For three years in a row, I did not missed one day of school, knowing that I would win a perfect attendance certificate, tangible proof on paper that I was worthwhile... So for the next few years, I went to school with colds, sore throats and influenza...

...When I reached junior high, I became so sick once I had to stay home... Three days at home, according to my dad, was enough...He decided he would take me into school...

...I got up the nerve to ask him, ‘Do you still love me?’ His answer? ‘If you do this again, I won’t.’”

(Excerpt taken from “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”).

It was a slap to the face. For, in that moment, I desperately wanted to hear Isaiah 43:4 come out of my dad’s mouth:

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

What I got instead was a threat, rife with conditions, all of which demanded I earn love, his love. In that moment with my dad, I certainly did not feel like I’d always be his girl. I felt unloved and unwanted.

And that eventually translated into a deeper self-loathing and a belief that God, Himself, felt the same way. I went down dark roads of suicidal thoughts, life-threatening disordered eating choices and an ever present delusional conviction, called “God hates me.”

Love and acceptance- they’re really one and the same, aren’t they. It has to do with inherent value, regardless. It’s that certainty of knowing there’s nothing which will obliterate that truth. We’re loved and valuable, as is, period.

We can, indeed, find evidence of this truth throughout scripture…

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”

Isaiah 41:9

“We love him, because he first loved us.”

1 John 4:19

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”

Jeremiah 31:3

The trick, however, is to know and accept it into our lives. And, when we’re reeling from abusive, addictive and dysfunctional dynamics, which often exist since childhood, that acceptance can feel like an insurmountable task.

But it is not impossible, not with God, anyway…

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

Luke 1:37

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

Still, it does take our cooperation, not to create the truth of God’s unconditional love, but certainly to embrace it.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

We choose to accept or reject; we do that.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19

So, armed with the knowledge of God’s unconditional love, as reiterated in scripture, let’s move forward with our lives, knowing our value, basking in the love we deserve.

John 8: 32 states how the truth does set us free. Let’s choose to embrace, not reject, that freedom.

There is Someone, right now, Who is saying to each one of us, “You’ll always be my girl.”

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Mother’s Day Braid


 

Dealing with the mother/daughter enmeshment issue, as it pertain to eating disorders, flares up this time of year: Mother’s Day.

I love my mother. However, the complicated enmeshment factor exists. A drawing I did years ago, entitled “Braids” addresses how both Mom and I are joined by a linking braid.

The back story is as follows. Mom was photographed at age five with two braids. And, when I was the same age, Mom was inspired to, likewise, have me photographed with the same hairstyle. The thought, I’m sure, was innocent at the time. But it seems to underscore a more murky reality: individuality was not encouraged. “Sameness,” however, was.

And that played out for me throughout my childhood and adolescence as stifled individuality, frustration, resentment and, eventually, a declaration of independence, known as eating disorders erupted. Self-expression, anger, rebellion and cries for help were part of why the eating disorder behaviors began and thrived as they did.

I wanted to be separate; I didn’t want to be “her.” I wanted to be ME!

Simple enough, right? Unfortunately, whether things like family image and loyalty, abuse or unresolved situations are present, the enmeshing can happen all too quickly and awaken the beast.

Throughout years of therapy, having a relationship with God and learning who I am, apart from my mother, I’ve come to learn just how being yourself is not a sin or a betrayal. For years, I thought it was exactly that.

We need to grant ourselves permission to be who we are, even if that is nothing like our mothers.

John 8:32 is exactly right:

“The truth shall set you free.”

I’ve been learning a few things about my mother and myself. They’re not easy lessons, but they have been blessings, all the same. Some of these include…

You are not responsible or to blame for your mother’s decisions or issues.

You have a responsibility to respect your mother, even if you don’t like her.

You have a responsibility to forgive your mother.

You are not your mother; you are your own unique person, created by God.

You need to address not only eating disorder issues, but also issues of abuse, trauma and addiction (both as individuals and as a family).

God has specifically created each one of us to be unique individuals. We may resemble our mothers. I’ve had traits which are like her (looking in the mirror can sometimes be startling).

But, nevertheless, I am a woman in my own right. I am a human being, with distinct attributes, talents and characteristics. I have my very own soul, mind and spirit. It’s not braided to my mother’s.

Likewise, you are your own braid, splendid in your entirety.

No matter what kind of relationship issues you have with your mother, you are one of a kind. Don’t fight it; embrace it.

And give yourself permission to be yourself.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

It’s exactly who God created you to be!

Happy Mother’s Day, then, to every female out there! Be fully who YOU are!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

I'm Enough...


It’s the Waiting



Recently, I chatted with a young girl I’ve been mentoring. She’s currently in an eating disorder treatment facility- and fighting her treatment. She has flat out refused to eat, drink or take any medication. She’s been closely monitored, mainly due to a recent episode in which she swallowed glass.

Yes, you heard me right; she swallowed glass.

I asked her what brought this on and she responded she wanted to feel pain and she was tired of waiting for her recovery. I don’t think it has sunken in that recovery is very much a process, not an instant cure.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

I’ve tried presenting this concept to her many times. Yet her response is still the desire for the instant, perfect, problem and pain free cure. And, in the meantime, she’s convinced God has caused this, or, at the very least, has been apathetic to her suffering because the struggle has not been eradicated.

But that’s not the case. It’s quite the opposite, in fact...

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

2 Peter 3:9

“And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.”

Isaiah 30:18

That’s the problem, isn’t it? It’s the waiting. No one likes to wait, no matter if it’s a spiritual issue or waiting in a grocery line or traffic. We want what we want NOW!

And so, we often run amuck with our brilliant theory that, because our chosen thing isn’t happening exactly on our timetable, God hates us and we’re failures, destined for only hopelessness. Nothing like exaggeration, huh?

And wrong thinking, not in line with God’s thinking- goody!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

I don’t know why we go through pain and struggles; I don’t know why things aren’t automatically, instantly fixed. But God does. There’s something larger at work. And it’s all woven for our good:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

That, however, doesn’t feel great to our instant gratification selves. But life IS a process. God IS in control. And part of our part, like it or not, is the waiting. Temper tantrums won’t speed that up. Letting God be God, however, WILL.

How about if we do that then? It’s something to consider while we wait.

 “...wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.”

Proverbs 20:22

 “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”

Psalms 27:14

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse