Recovering alcoholics will occasionally tell horrific stories of drunken stupors that lasted for days and ended with them passing out in an alley while someone's stereo above played Aretha Franklin all night long and the whole thing takes on the mood of a Jim Jarmusch movie. Recovering bulimics do not talk about the night they ordered three pizzas from Domino's, devoured two of them with a liter of Coke, followed by a bag of Doritos, another bag of Cheetos, another one of Oreos, finishing with a half gallon of Ben & Jerry's cookie dough (the only poetry being that every food ends in the same vowel sound) all while watching "Pretty Woman" in a basement apartment, letting the answering machine pick up the calls, and then spending a half hour throwing up, cleaning up, sitting on the bathroom floor letting their hearts race until they couldn't keep their eyes open any longer so they passed out on the bed and slept til too late in the morning and got up and pretended everything was okay when they showed up at work the next day. So, yes, I was bulimic for about ten years of my life. And though that picture isn't exactly a scene from those ten years, it gives you the general idea of your basic binge.
I'm no longer bulimic. This fact is number one on any Gratitude List I ever make. Contained in that gratitude is also a gratitude for having had bulimia at all. When I committed myself to healing, I was required over time not only to reconcile my relationship with my own body and with food, but with other people, with my past, with my family, with God and spirituality, and with my emotional take on life. These other elements were essential to the process, and the expansion and learning have been powerful. The road continues now, of course, but I’m a totally different person.
I'm convinced that commitment to anything reveals everything. But it reveals it in very tiny doses and steps. The exact doses you are able to handle at the time. It's like the process of making art. It's not linear. There is grace, there is inspiration, and there are times when you think you're right back where you started.
That brings me to the good news: when you commit to healing, when you set your intent, when you pray in whatever tiny way you can, the door does open. Light does come in. People do show up to help you. New friends who have "been there" show up and walk beside you. Books appear. A song lyric will open your heart. Grace happens.
The bad news is this: The door opens gradually. At first, imperceptibly. This news is like a prison sentence for someone with an eating disorder. Bulimic personalities want answers, they want it done, they want to either have it over with or not do it at all... which is precisely why the spiritual direction that they necessarily must go through involves learning how to live in process, progress, gratitude, and presence.
In one of her lectures, Caroline Myss made a passing remark that I love: "One powerful prayer (intent) beats a confused cathedral any day." I am convinced that human beings are, as Marianne Williamson said, "powerful beyond measure." I know that I am no longer bulimic because I simply decided that I had had it. I was over it. I was tired of the struggle. I decided to heal. I committed. I set intent.
You need to decide to heal. And you then need to remind yourself again the next morning that you decided. And the next. Write it in your journal over and over. Tell your voices their days are numbered. This doesn't mean you go on a diet, begin an exercise regime, or find any other ways to beat yourself into submission. Consider this a non-step... the opposite of every diet you've ever started. This is deeper.
Decide to heal. Pray. And do that everyday. Trust me on this. You have no idea now how powerful this will be. But it will be and it is.