A letter: Part IIPosted: March 25, 2010
Dear Sara, (Fall 2006)
How are you feeling…not doing, feeling? I know you are doing well. You are running a lot, working really hard at training for the Cross Country season. I know your grades are phenomenal. Strait A’s. You’ve got extracurricular activities; from community service to athletics, to church. Really, have done a great job. As far as college goes you have nothing to worry about.
But how do you feel? On the outside you seem pulled together, like you could take on the world…but on the inside? You seem tired, worn out, exhausted. There is a sort of paleness about you. It’s in your expressions, your stillness, your complexion, your lack of emotion. It’s even in your eyes. I don’t mean that critically, we all get tired and worn down, but you see especially worn.
I know you have a lot on your plate right now. The college admissions process is rough, especially so for you. i know you put all of yourself into applying to these schools. Not just into the applications, but the past four years of all-consuming effort feels like it has been leading up to this moment. This is the culmination, or so it feels. I get that, completely. But really, this is not the culmination for you, your life is just beginning and it is so much bigger than college.
Do you know that you’re afraid? Thats why it feels like success is everything. Thats why getting into the best college and running the fastest times, and looking shockingly thin all matter so so much. I know this because I remember, and because I’m still fighting the desire to control. I remember, I can still feel, my heart suffering and my body literally aching. I remember what it felt like to clamp down so tight, to try to control everything so much, that I couldn’t think, I could hardly even breathe.
Your heart is suffering, and you can see it in your body. Physically, you are giving yourself a beating. That sounds extreme, but its true. I know you feel so much better since you lost weight, and that is a legitimate feeling. When you were younger, your eating habits weren’t so good. there was a lot of junk in the house and no one ever taught you about healthy eating. That was not your fault. The weight you gained wasn’t because you were out of control, or because your desired for food was bad, or because you were eating emotionally. Quite the contrary, you didn’t eat emotionally, you just ate, and enjoyed your food. The weight you gained was not your fault. It’s just that there was unlimited junk food around; food that is above all else unfilling and addictive. That wasn’t your fault either.
But now, you’ve gone so far in the other direction. You ration every bite that you take. You eat next to nothing. You only distrust your body and your appetite. You don’t eat nearly enough and you eat very little real food. I know you thing you’re eating right, even more, I know you’re afraid of what your body will do if you eat any other way. But, what you think is a lie. Its a whisper from Satan. Its a lie that allows you to cope, yes, but it is also killing you. I don’t mean that in a dramatic way, it’s literally killing you. You only weigh 103 pounds. I know you can rationalize that to yourself, but its not a healthy weight for you. Do you know that you’re damaging you bones?…that you will be diagnosed with the early stages of Osteoperosis in a few years?…that your period will not come back for almost three years?…that you will be put on various drugs to try and alter your hormones and treat your stomach problems?…that you will start losing your hair in the next few months? Scariest of all, do you know that your heart could fail? It needs fat, and calories, and it needs you to gain weight. At the weight you are, it’s straining to keep going.
I wanted to write you this letter to try and stop you from going any further on your own. This path you’re on, it’s deadly. You’ve cut yourself off from your heart and it will take years for you to rediscover yourself. Instead of living, you go through each day exhausted, just trying to keep your A’s and eat as little as possible. You are sinking into a hole. Either you will be consumed, or you will have to dig your way back out. I know this is true, because I’ve been there, and I am still digging. It’s hard and it’s dirty and it’s easier just to slide back down than to keep digging out.
It’s hard to see you things like grades and running and even something as basic as eating can become so messed-up. They’re not bad things in themselves, but when you manipulate them in order to control your life, they end up controlling you. Your heart begins to die because you were not made for a such a small life, nor were you made to function on your own.
You were not made for a life of calorie-counting or constant exercising or academic perfection. You were made for life, period. A life of adventure and purpose and love. the thing is, none of that can be if you are trying to maintain control. Either it’s God, or it’s nothing. Don’t be afraid to loosen your grip. Don’t be afraid to be weak, to ask for help, to get less than an A, to go out with friends, to admit your fears out loud, to face them. Don’t be afraid to give-up control. Letting go is the bravest thing you could possible do. God will catch you. You have nothing to fear. Life is right around the corner.
S. (Spring 2010)