Like a Sparrow

I’m not sure when my disordered eating started. Maybe it started at eight years old, when the doctors told my parents that I needed to gain weight and I loaded up on potato chips and fried chicken. I think it got worse when I was in high school and all I wanted be was thin but I also wanted a McDonald’s Quarter pounder. Keep in mind that I am not a heavy girl and I never have been. I have always been average and that is not the point of this post.

I moved out of my parents house at the age of 21, with exactly $678 a month from Social Security to spend on rent and groceries. Whatever I have left over would go towards fun things, my vice being McDonald’s. I could have stayed at home with my parents but it would be likely that I would’ve never ended up with the career that I have now had I not ventured on my own at that age. I got very good at managing my disordered eating. My rent was dirt cheap so I splurged on groceries and eating out. As the end of the every month, I made great use of dollar menus and rummaging through $0.99 stores for cheap treats.

But I got tired of living on government assistance and got a job as a disability rights advocate at a disability advocacy nonprofit. My specific job title was as a life skills coach but I often spent my time advocating for my clients for what they needed. I found the career, a passion and a purpose. I also had money for the first time in my life that I had earned on my own. Fast food, restaurant delivery (before the days of UberEats and DoorDash) and lunches out of office became daily routines. Nothing was out of my sight or range.

I got cocky, thinking I had saved enough money to branch out on my own and find a better paying job. Instead, I found myself working two part-time jobs and struggling to eat. It was at this point in my life that my disordered eating began to change. Food became my control. When there was little money to go around, food was the first to go. I lived off of protein bars and bananas for three months before finally moving to the Valley.

Over the years, food became an object of control. When money was abundant, I would eat whatever I wanted. When money was lean, I would go days without eating anything more than a bowl of oatmeal. Money wasn’t the only reason I wouldn’t eat. When I was stressed or anxious, I ate nothing. Depressed? No food. For several years, even when I had money in the bank, I only ate one fast food meal a day.

It’s amazing what people thought of me back then. My best friend turned villain often made comments about me spending too much money. I should have seen the signs, that she would betray me out of her own bitterness and jealousy. The only time she never had a problem with me spending money was when I would spend it on her. When I was forced out of an organization due to a legal matter, I thought I had enough savings to last until I got another job. And then my roommate moved out one day while I was at a job interview. I survived three months living in that apartment alone while looking for a new roommate before I was evicted. At the time, I had no credit card debt and had been pretty financially independent. My best friend turned villain invited me to live with her and her husband. The rent was nonnegotiable and out of my price range but it was between that and the shelter. Years later, I wish I had chosen the shelter. By the time I left that home, I was destitute, drowning in debt and hungry. They ate my food and judged me for where I got the food. I was shaking at work and struggling to stay awake during the day. I made one attempt to ask an outside person for help and my best friend turned villain and her husband told me that I would be asked to leave the church if I would to a pastor and told him what was happening.

I asked her when I was about to leave the home why she couldn’t have lowered the rent to something that was fair. She said I deserved it, that I needed to learn my lesson. Spoiler alert – we’re not friends anymore and while she and her husband have slandered me to anyone that would listen, I have remained relatively quiet.

That situation put me in a permanent survival mode. Despite making more money than I have ever made in my career, the pandemic and inflation has squeezed everything that I have. Over the last two years, my disordered eating has gotten completely out of control. Food is the only last thing I have control over. I don’t eat because I am afraid I’m going to run out. There has been countless nights where I have laid up in bed, my stomach cramping and pain and I do nothing.

And yet, God is crying out for me to eat. A few months ago, I started on the path towards healing my disordered eating by going to food banks when I had little to no groceries. I started cooking again. I started eating three meals again. But my gut was destroyed and no matter what I ate, I was still hungry. I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease in September of this year. I couldn’t go to food banks anymore as everything has gluten in it. I started to hoard food again, eating one meal a day to save what I had. If any of my friends read this post, it’ll be the first time they’ve ever heard of this as I have never said any of this out loud.

I cannot live like this anymore, always hungry. I cannot even enjoy the fast food meals that I used to eat. I don’t eat because I don’t believe that God will replenish my pantry. Even after all this time, I still struggle to trust that God sees me and hears me. My best friend turned villain and her husband told me that I would be punished by the church for talking to a pastor about my living situation with them and yet, there have been no repercussions for the evil they did to me. I struggle with a God that is not fair.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matthew 6: 25-26

God may not be fair but He is just. I do not believe that I deserved to be violated to people who claimed to love me. But I do believe that sometimes betrayal is a tool God uses to sanctify the vulnerable one in the situation. I have to eat. Even when I am scared that I will not have enough for tomorrow. I have seen the faithfulness of God in the last two years in ways that I never could’ve imagined. Starving myself is forgetting that God is for me, even if I don’t understand my situation. I am worth more than a sparrow.


One thought on “Like a Sparrow

  1. alphaandomega21 says:

    Dear Emily

    Hello from the UK. many thanks for your post. I am here because the angels heard you and told the heavenly Father. I am very sorry for what you have been through. I have not been through things like you as such, but my life has had its highs and lows.

    The last 2.5 years have been very odd, but in 2020 I found all I wanted in God as I asked for everything and received it. I wrote this as a consequence.

    And because there is the quote from JK Rowling’s inspired Harry Potter series on your site you might also like this.

    I can tell you all about Covid 19 and what is going on if you need it. I have various posts on the matter.

    I also have a lot of humour on my site to lighten the mood and help make the points. I am not PC.

    Kind regards from my wife and I

    Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson
    Please excuse the nom-de-plume, this is as much for fun as a riddle for people to solve if they wish.


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