Written by a friend of Aslan’s Place
Obsession is a strong word. Hollywood has made millions on movies centered on this theme. Fatal Attraction and Sleeping with the Enemy come to mind. Yet, the word pales in comparison to the mental persecution and torment that I have suffered over food for more than 40 years. In fact, stories about my ravenous desire for milk as an infant suggest that I came into the world with this problem. I can recall stories told to me by my mother who laughingly claims that I was put on non-fat milk at 6 months of age because of the insatiable appetite for food and resulting weight gain. Although my earliest memories of binge eating were at the age of 10 years old, I know that I was born into captivity. I am free from that prison today and the journey has been painful. The battleground for the mind is not to be underestimated. Why I had to endure the mental anguish for so long is still a mystery to me, BUT GOD knows and He held the key that brought me into freedom.
My story is not one of intense physical trauma and abuse, but rather a life of hidden captivity in the unseen regions of evil that had the power to completely immobilize my thinking so that my mind believed that unless I was “normal” I could not exist as a human being, much less as a Christian. As a young Catholic girl who loved God, I remember praying myself to sleep at night in the hope of waking up without appetite and desire for food. I knew He had the answer and I believe that it was this knowledge that ultimately kept me alive. In the early 70s, no one spoke about eating disorders, binge eating, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia or anorexia to the extent that it is today. The diagnosis and treatment for such ailments were just not available. So, I lived with the feeling that I was different until college, where I found “group therapy” and people who were in similar states of anguish. Throughout elementary school, I played sports so that I could eat and maintain a normal weight. An introduction to drugs helped me cope in high school, because the appetite and desire for food was raging out of control. After a binge, solace came in the form of diuretics, laxatives, amphetamines, and exercise in a variety of combinations depending upon how deep into the pit of compulsion that I had plunged. I was secretive, my weight was normal, and the façade remained intact. Distorted thinking caused me to agree with my unseen captors. I hated myself and therefore, God must hate me too, which is why He had stopped listening to me and there was no reason to believe I would have answers. I wished for death every day.
By the time I enrolled at UCLA, the amount of food that I could consume would boggle the human mind. This behavior, coupled with a grotesquely distorted body image left me feeling as if I had plunged into the “land of no return.” Yet, having been abandoned by God, I believed the answer was in the halls of this great university, specifically in the realm of science. My degree would validate my normalcy. In addition, I agreed to be part of a doctoral study for bulimics and anorectics and knew that my answers were at hand. I had found like-minded prisoners; I was able to freely talk about the torment, the pain, and the suffering. No one would judge me because we all “knew” what each other lived with – an unseen enemy who, with a flick of a puppet string, could plunge us into such depths of despair and destruction that the first bite of food was sudden doom. The seduction to eat was so strong at times, that it literally personified the insatiable desire and appetite that left us feeling helpless and out of control. The only avenue was to succumb to a binge and hope that we did not kill ourselves in the purge. The opening of the abyss in Revelation 9 had nothing on us; we felt as if we were being manipulated by something far greater.
Therapy was quite informative. I learned about triggers, repressed memories, and coping mechanisms. There was even a “breakthrough” when I associated a memory of my father telling me, at the age of 11, that he would kill my mother if she came after him for child support. This, in turn, tracked with my earliest memories of binging and therefore, I had made great progress. Although the epiphany brought much emotional awareness and healing to my struggle, the fear that had driven me merely took a backseat to other negative emotions soon to emerge. I graduated from the group “healed.”
Shame is an unspeakable foe, whose only desire is total annihilation of the human soul. This is the jailor who threw away the key. Unable to keep the self-loathing and self-hatred at bay, I could not look in a mirror and see the fit and trim young woman that I was. Stepping on a scale meant victory or defeat in increments of 0.2 ounces. Victory meant that I had been given the ability to not eat for two or three days and thus my good behavior was rewarded with weight loss, whereas defeat meant “solitary” confinement that manifested as a binge-purge cycle that was isolating and torturous. I became quite clever at concealing my habits. No one saw me binge – ever. An ample supply of appetite suppressants and laxatives accompanied me at all times, ready to bring any situation under control lest my weight climbed by 2 lbs. A weight gain of 5 lbs. meant a forked path. One avenue led to turning down all social engagements and minimal public contact until weight loss was accomplished. No one wanted to see my grotesque body was my rationalization. The second path led to testing the boundaries of my confinement by consuming massive amounts of food as I helplessly gave myself over to my unseen tormentors in the hope that I would live through my self abuse and regain control. I hated myself for being weak.
Life continued in this way until I was married and pregnant. Sheer excitement at the fact that now I had been given license to binge in public without fear of judgment or criticism because I was “eating for two.” With my last child, I gained 85 lbs. and came to the realization that if I wanted to be around to raise them, I would have to abandon the drugs. Resignation and despair took their places in the lineup, but were kept at bay with my reconnection to God. His promises of healing brought new hope into my tortured existence. I was a new creation, filled with His Spirit and all my enemies were vanquished at the Cross. As a baby Christian, I learned to hear His voice and began to know His ways. The voracity for food turned to an appetite for His Word. During the early years, I received much deliverance and healing prayer conquering every devil that raised its head and every negative emotion that had a voice. Yet, in the very depths of my soul, the mocking laughter of “the” tormentor caused me to pause. The presence of God protected me during the day, but at night, the oppressor plotted revenge. Plagued by nightmares, the eating disorder was rattling the chains.
When the honeymoon phase of salvation ended, an unlikely tyrant emerged – the Church. Over the next 17 years, I remained clinically “obese” and torn between two camps of Christian teaching. Obesity is an “acceptable” sin in the Church to some and yet to others it falls under the blanket category of “gluttony.” Ad nauseam were the sermons on this topic and in an attempt to be a good and faithful servant, my captor was named, so I went after it. I sought deliverance, laying on of hands, every healing ministry that afforded itself to man and was left with only one conclusion – my name was Legion II (the sequel). The pigs would get fat off the gluttony that was cast out of me. Yet, within the inner recesses of my tortured mind, the cruel voice of evil sounded loud and clear, “You are a failure. God doesn’t love you. You cannot serve Him looking like this. So, how can you be saved?”
My anguish only magnified. I contemplated giving up the Christian life. There was no comfort to my suffering and I believed my accuser. Well meaning pastors told me to “die to the flesh” with prayer and fasting. The only problem with fasting was that it was a MAJOR trigger that would plunge me into binges that made Solomon’s lust for women look like monogamy. All hope was not lost, however, as the blessed Holy Spirit comforted me by pointing me to those few ministers who were overweight and having a powerful impact on His Kingdom. Unbeknownst to these, it was their service that kept me believing that God did love me. I was in mental hell, tormented every waking hour, and convinced I was a hypocrite, but, if He could use these people so mightily, I reasoned, then He could use me (maybe).
With a shred of hope still intact, my life was anything but happy. My appetite and desire were far from healthy binding me up in a vortex of death and sucking me into the recesses of the Underworld with such stealth that I was able to convince myself that hiding from the world until I received a miracle was what God wanted. I turned down social engagements, sent my husband to events with the kids, wouldn’t engage in activity that would draw focus on my appearance and felt guilty that I still hated myself. I felt as if I had never been prayed for or had healing. Hiding behind the pretense that everything was normal, I made jokes about being overweight, convinced that embracing it would turn some proverbial tide toward acceptance of a new identity and myself. I stopped asking for prayer, unless I was being plagued to the point of insanity and only then would I ask for help, but never in the area of “my secret besetting sin.” The prison had become my home now, I reasoned, and the completion of my healing would take place in Heaven.
A month ago, my enemy overplayed its hand. The smug conviction that I would never be fully effective in my position in God’s Kingdom drove this entity to unwittingly reveal a key. I had been meeting with Dr. Paul Cox for generational prayer for issues that began to surface over the past year. Hidden areas of captivity were being exposed and I was amazed at what the Lord was revealing in our sessions. Having developed an element of trust with this minister, I dared to set up another appointment in the hopes of being set totally free. I asked God what the agenda would be. One word came to mind – Abaddon. Familiar only with the Revelation 9 reference, it made sense that the entity who also claimed the name Apollyon and holds the key to the Abyss, would therefore hold the key to the abyss that I was stuck in. BUT GOD had another plan. I searched the Bible for every Hebraic and Greek reference to the word “abaddon” and three verses emerged that would bring the miracle that I NEVER would have believed possible – Proverbs 27:20[i] – “Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied,” Habakkuk 2:5 – “Furthermore, wine betrays a haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied,” Proverbs 30:15-16 – “The leech has two daughters, ‘Give,’ ‘Give.’ There are three things that will not be satisfied. Four that will not say, ‘Enough.’ Sheol and the barren womb. Earth that is never satisfied with water. And fire that never says, ‘Enough.’” Armed with verses and notes, I arrived for my appointment and we began to pray. The Bible search had led me to believe that a part of me was captive in the place called “abaddon.” Dr. Cox discerned that I was actually toggling between Abaddon and Sheol (Prov. 27:20). Never being satisfied was the hallmark of the affliction and a quick word study revealed that the “appetite” in the next verse was actually the word nephesh or “soul” (Hab. 2:5). Lastly, the third verse defined the demand that emanated from the insatiable desire of the soul (Prov. 30:15-16).
The next step was to get out of this place of torture and bring wholeness to my soul. But there was one last piece – Dr. Cox discerned that swine DNA had been incorporated into my generational line. He described how a pig, when it eats, has an insatiable appetite and proposed that this contamination could be empowering my condition. Although this seemed odd, I did not find it outlandish as recent genetic studies are leading scientists to hypothesize that archaic genes from the Homo lineage entered the modern human gene pool via interspecies mating (Scientific American May 2013). Eager to move forward, he led me in prayer to pull me out of the place of captivity and remove the foreign DNA, but my excitement soon diminished, as this was the most unremarkable session that I have ever had in my entire life – pre- and post-Christian! Although the revelation was flowing and the process was all quite interesting, I would have expected some sort of emotion to be evoked. After all, the depths of despair, anguish and torment that I had suffered for most of my life were more than tangible. This presence had been overwhelmingly invasive and unquenchable. I left his office thinking that I would have to be more diligent in my research and meet when I had more knowledge.
Over a month has passed and I am no longer obsessed with insatiable desires for food. There is no prison in my life. The debilitation is gone. Seven days after our meeting, I wrote, “I woke up feeling for the first time since I was 10 years old like I was a ‘normal’ person.” Since the session, I have been triggered and overeaten, even forced a binge, all to no avail. There is no captor, no jailor, no torment, nor bondage. What occurred is nothing short of a miracle. My eating behavior is completely normal and I have effortlessly begun to lose weight. God provided a way out of the suffering and pain. The battle has been won. I am free!