When I was eight, I cracked my knuckles. My toes and my fingers hundreds of times a day. My friend warned me of fat joints, but I carried on. My aunt declared “arthritis!,” but I carried on. My parents scowled and grounded me, but I carried on. Sounds like overeating. The scale yells “Fat!,” the doctor warns “Heart disease!,” and I hate it all along, but I carry on. Shame doesn’t work. If it worked, there would be no obesity “epidemic.”
Write a list of what you get from overeating. The wonderful positive perks of bingeing. No guilt, just scribble anything that comes to mind. Sugar high. Distraction. Numbness. Silence. Fullness. Hope for satisfaction. You’re not crazy. If you didn’t get something good from overeating, you wouldn’t do it.
If you try to cure overeating with shame, you’ll carry on anyway. It’s not that you can’t stop, it’s just that you can’t stop while heaping shame on your head. You might even overeat to cope with the shame from overeating (been there, done that, got the t-shirt). Shame is self-destructive, it will never be anything else.
Look at your list. It’s pretty scientific. It’s not wrong to want any of the perks on your list. You don’t have to feel ashamed for wanting identity, healing, numbness, pleasure, or help. So you looked in the wrong place and got stuck on it, who cares? You’ll unstick. There’s a whole sparkly bouncy life waiting for you.
Where else could you look to satisfy those longings? Make a list.
This one should be shorter. Because there’s only one source that offers joy, rest, fellowship, solitude, satisfaction, hope, and everything else you could ever crave.
As David wrote in Psalm 145:
The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
The LORD upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Rebekah Burcham struggled with bulimia nervosa
for almost six years before she fully embraced recovery.
She now co-edits UNGLOSSED magazine and manages
Big Fat Juicy while tackling her freshman year of college.