I used to think if I surrendered to my eating disorder, it would kill me. Surrendering felt as if I were throwing myself off a very tall building. I thought it meant I’d gain weight until I could no longer fit on this earth. I thought surrender meant that I was declaring myself a loser.
Yet surrender is a powerful action — it strengthens us within our helplessness. It’s a little spark of life inside of us that is awakened when all attempts to control our environment have failed. Surrender is what it takes to move through and beyond an eating disorder.
Eating disorders have a tendency to quiet down once you surrender. It’s like having a fight with a lover, who ends every argument with an intimidating “I’m leaving.” The first time he says this, you panic. By saying it over and over, you become desensitized and no longer believe him. Eating disorders thrive on chaos, doubt and a sense of hopelessness. If you surrender to an eating disorder, the eating disorder loses its power, just like an overused threat from a lover.
When I surrendered to an eating disorder after nineteen years, my mind became quiet. In this quiet surrender, I witnessed my fears as if they were stills from a horror film. Viewing them like a slide show, I couldn’t help but notice they weren’t real. The eating disorder is a projection of my fears; of my sense of helplessness. It is something I created to best help me control my life and myself. I found hope in these discoveries. I didn’t have to play the horror film in my mind any longer — I could delete it if I wanted to.
Here are some ways I surrendered:
1. Physical surrender: I literally raised my hands in the air and said out loud: “I surrender.” I admitted that I can never beat an eating disorder with eating disorder behaviors.
2. Surrender to the facts: I questioned the voice of the eating disorder. What are the facts? I examined what it told me to believe: Can I touch, hear, smell or taste the statement? If I can’t, it is an eating disorder lie. I surrendered to the fact that my eating disorder was a huge liar.
3. Surrender to the unknown: I knew that the eating disorder was not providing me with a life I wanted, but I also knew I wanted to live. Surrendering to the truth that you truly have no control over other people, places or things can give way for acceptance, and with that, a new found hope.
In my surrender, I found the courage to close the door on the eating disorder and let go of the make-believe control. Instead, I made room for the miracles and mysteries of life that were waiting for me to experience.
Today, I will be my best, courageous, empowered self.
I will surrender to a life outside of my illness.
It may be unknown, but I am willing to say yes to life.