Around the same time as talking to the pastor (though I genuinely don't remember if this was right before or right after) I must have talked with two of my guy friends. I don't remember telling them, but I do remember them worrying about me. Their worry and subsequent "accountability" were well intentioned though not well executed. Every time they saw me they would ask if I had eaten. The focus was always on what, how much and when I ate. Too much focus on food! Mental note to those of you walking alongside of someone struggling with food issues, *do NOT make the focus about the food!* Because all that they focused on was food with me, I focused on it more myself, but not in a healthy way. I obsessed even more about not eating because food was suddenly the thing most on the forefront of my mind. I finally started lying, just to get them to quit asking. Yes, I did eat, this morning with the girls. One day one of them asked me what I had eaten. I am a terrible liar so I didn't even attempt. "A tootsie roll," I responded.
Of course they were horrified and promptly took me to Denny's and asked what I wanted to eat. Nothing! I didn't want to eat a single thing on that menu! I was willing to compromise on a salad but they wouldn't hear of it. I had to get some "real food" in me. They ordered me a burger. I ate about 3 bites and then was legitimately full. Not eating causes your stomach to shrink. They didn't understand and forced me to finish the burger. This cycle only made matters worse because I felt so sick after eating so much that I had no hunger pains or desire to eat for several days. They had the best of intentions and yet they made the cycle even harder to break by constantly barraging me about food and then forcing me to eat more than my body was ready for.
Let me tell you a little secret about eating disorders, if you deal with the root causes and hurts, you will have much more success with dealing with the symptoms. Not eating is a symptom of a much greater pain. It is different reasons for each person who deals with it. For me, not eating was a symptom of needing control in my life, a way to express my extreme emotional hurt, a way to make my body obey me, a way to feel a little less unworthy, a way to prove I could be gorgeous, a way to show that my body could be used in a way that didn't involve sex. The list goes on, I'm sure you get it though. As the hurts of the past started to be healed, the eating gradually got easier.
So again, please remember that when you encounter someone who deals with eating disorders. The eating disorder is not the cause, it is the symptom. Like any disease, treating the symptom will not make the disease go away it will only mask the outward devastation of the disease. Do NOT make everything focused around food! Focus, instead, on getting to know that wounded little girl. Focus on loving her when she is difficult to love. Focus on protecting her when she feels attacked. Love her unconditionally. Eventually love and trust will break down her walls. When you get past those walls to the real issues, help her tackle them. Don't for a moment think that food is the issue, it isn't.