Today as I am writing from a place of sentimentality for the past that is so intricately interwoven with my greatest shame. If you asked me 23 years ago if this would be possible I would have said, “Absolutely not!” Yet here I am reminiscing and somehow filled with gratitude for those so many years ago when I began a sacred ritual of remembering. It didn’t start out to be sacred…it was simply a starting point to differentiate yesterday from today.
It was March 22, 1990, I had my haircut and I was driving home. This day seemed unremarkable as it started, just like the day before when I ate breakfast and proceeded to vomit it into the toilet. You see I had been struggling with an eating disorder for 25 years. My routine was set…my secret was safe…my shame was hidden. Yet something was unusual as I traveled the familiar route home thinking my routine would continue at least for one more day. There didn’t seem much hope that my life could be different and yet there was a deep ache in my heart for something more. I was stuck…I wanted out…I was desperate…was it possible? I hadn’t planned what happened next. It was so simple I wondered if it could work? I prayed. I asked God to forgive me for my arrogance in thinking I could manage this food addiction apart from Him. You see I never really asked Him…I didn’t want to…I thought I could hide from Him as well. I confessed to Him that I was helpless. I wanted to be done with this addiction. I wanted to be “normal.” Help me! He did. My body and my heart were at peace…finally, I rested.
That night I went to a Surprise Party where I faced food, ate and did not visit the bathroom. As I went to bed I was grateful…I had made it to the end of day one and to celebrate this day I made a check mark in my daily Journal. I wanted to remember this day because it was a new beginning for me. The check marks continued to be inside my Journals in the days to follow into the next year right up to this day. They are a reminder of another day…free to eat…free to taste…free to savor…free to be.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that “the something more” I was looking for was not wrought without pain and struggle. Once the numbing effects of food were removed I was faced with my femininity, sexuality and relationships with family and friends. Food was no longer the barrier to protect me and to soothe me. And I must admit that I was haunted with contempt as it periodically crept in to condemn me for those 25 years. I am forever thankful for the community of friends, family and God who have been there for me during those times. They have been faithful to me as I have come to terms with who I have been created to be. Food and my size no longer define me.
So it is with nostalgia I remember that first check mark. It is evidence of what that March day meant to me. From this vantage point in life, I can honestly say, “I love those check marks” repeated over and over again day after day. It is with gratitude I am telling you this. It is with tenderness I remember and live today.
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.