Faith: something I lost to my eating disorder, but I don’t think I realized I lost it until I had it back. One of the most beautiful things about recovery has been rediscovering my faith…keyword being MY faith. Not my parents’, not my teachers’, not my husband’s…but mine. As a child, you obviously lean toward whatever faith you are born into…I grew up in the world of Catholicism. Twelve plus years of Catholic school gave me a strong foundation for my religion, but not necessarily my faith. While in my disorder I never realized I had little to no faith…I would just go to Sunday mass like I was ‘supposed to,’ say my prayers like I was ‘supposed to.’ But what did it all mean anyway? Of course I believed in God and the power of prayer…but what did it mean to me, what did it mean for me and my life?
I stopped going to church when I began treatment for my eating disorder about two years ago. My treatment began at an outpatient clinic in my hometown. For a while, I was even angry with God…but of course I felt bad for being angry at our Creator. Damn Catholic Guilt. After a year and a half of outpatient treatment, my therapist said I need more intensive treatment…it was time to make the leap to a residential treatment center. I was at rock bottom, actually I was below the rocks. I was broken, hollow and willing to do whatever it took. It was at the residential center where I rediscovered my faith, but it happened in a way I did not see coming…
Every Sunday in treatment, we had the option of going to one of two churches. Lucky, I guess, for me there were other Catholic girls in the house so we always had the upper hand in picking the Catholic church. I began to go to church every Sunday. I thought this would be my opportunity to finally reconnect with God, but I was wrong. This church was PACKED…I mean crammed full of people. Our lovely 15-passenger van always ended up pulling into the church lot a bit late so instead of pews we sat on a stoop next to fake plants. It was anything but inspiring and uplifting. Then one rainy and Sunday I was having a horrible body image day and I was just plain sad. I was lonely, missing my husband and family terribly. I voted to stay back and sulk. My pity party ended up being one of the best things I could have done. I would journal for hours and just enjoyed a quiet house since most of the girls were at church. A quiet house was oh so rare and I realized how much I needed it that morning.
As the weeks passed, I began to stay back every Sunday…and with the passing weeks came warmer weather and the sunshine. Sunday morning became my personal church…just me, God, the porch swing, my journal and the Until Today! Iyanla Vanzant book a friend sent me. I would read and reflect on the book, journal and even draw. It was heavenly! The more I became in touch with myself during this recovery process, the more I began to grow into my own faith. I suddenly realized church is wherever you are and prayers can mean something. I began to hear God again…and truly believe again. I would look forward to my quiet Sundays on the porch and towards the end of my stay. The sweet nurse would secretly let me walk the grounds soaking in the morning sunshine and mountain air. And that is where I found my faith…not in a church or on a pew, but alone on a beautiful Sunday morning.
Now that I am home, I go to church on occasion. I go when I feel called to go…not because I feel obliged. I wear what I am comfortable in…I don’t get dressed up, I don’t go to be seen. My faith is just that…it is mine and I worship and pray in whatever way moves me.