Saturday, August 1, 2015

Under the Layers

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

August always holds poignant memories for me. It’s the month I was at my lowest weight from anorexia. It’s a reminder of how close to death I actually was.

Perhaps, part of what makes this month stand out so much is the context of its warm weather. Because of the bizarre behavior of wearing multiple layers of clothing, that can amplify anorexia in a way nothing else can. I talk about my experience in my book. Please keep in mind, this was during a hot and humid Minnesota August day.

“... I’d dress for my ‘weigh in’ in my workout clothes, a leotard, or a one-piece number of some sort. I’d then wear my long johns over that, with a t-shirt, then exercise pants and the matching shirt. This helped a lot in keeping me a little bit warmer. I then added a large flannel shirt and some baggy jeans—of course; any jeans at this point were baggy. I was wearing jeans that I wore when I was twelve years old. I was nineteen now, and they were enormous on me. I wore two pairs of socks to top it all off…”

Wearing layers is telltale sign for eating disorders, especially that of anorexia. It’s hot and humid, yet you are constantly freezing because of an emaciated body frame, just struggling to stay alive. Therefore, while everyone else is in shorts, tank tops and sandals, you are dressed for winter.

It’s taken me years to realize layers represent issues.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

And divesting myself of the harmful distractions is no easy feat. Yes, at the time, wearing warm clothing may have helped my cold body. But it didn’t change how I was just covering up pain with more pain, trying to insulate myself from the truth of my life.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalms 139:23-24

And dishonesty was a key reason for my attire. Here’s a dirty little eating disorder secret: when you dress in baggy clothing or wear layers, you can appear to be heavier than your actual reality. And that is a priority when someone wants to keep their disorder going. So, once again, no facing of truth, reality or issues going on. Just more deception and disease.

I’ve often heard that finding out who we are is comparable to the peeling of an onion. You don’t need to be anorexic or bulimic to have that principle apply to you.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

There is a story to the layers. It’s not just a bulky sweatshirt or numerous pairs of wool socks worn at one time. The challenge is to face the fears of what those truthful representations actually are. And then, without flinching deal with them and begin the process of healing. It requires looking under the layers, be they clothes or the highly charged emotions and events driving disordered behavior. That transcends seasons, summer included. Dealing with what’s under the layers often translates to overcoming in life.

May we all flourish in this manner!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse




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