This article is part of the #flamfaces series.
Here, Susan Brown of Launceston shares a snippet of her story.
As a teenager, I had a number of supposedly trustworthy men and guys try to seduce me. Fear and shame cast a shadow over my life, warping my view of males and changing the way I saw myself. No longer was I a girl with many valuable qualities. Instead, at least to guys, I was ‘just a body’.
Most people didn’t realise what had happened to me. Years passed. I finished school, took a gap year then started uni.
All the while a storm brewed silently inside me.
When I was 20, my sister suddenly got engaged. She and her fiancée were planning to marry in a few months time and settle an hour away from our home. I felt like I was losing my closest friend. My grief was overwhelming but I stuffed it down, not wanting to dampen my sister’s joy. Seeing her so happy only intensified my longing to be loved – maybe if I had someone special her leaving wouldn’t hurt so much.
Desperate to be beautiful.
I went on a crash diet, striving to shrink back to the size of my teens – when I’d received all the attention. The more weight I lost, the more my excitement grew. It only took two weeks to reach my goal weight. By then I didn’t want to stop.
Watching the numbers go down on the scales thrilled me. Like a drug, it urged me to see how far I could take this.
Calorie counting and exercise became my sole focus, consuming my thoughts. I withdrew into my own obsessive world constantly calculating and striving to make myself thinner, better, more acceptable. Family and friends tried to intervene. So did God. But I clung fiercely to control.
This lifestyle had become my security – if I let go, I was sure I’d fall apart.
The turning point.
Finally, after much prayer, some friends from uni gently broke through my defences. Once I’d admitted my need, they paid for a number of appointments with a Christian psychologist, made sure I kept them and offered me a safe place to learn how to socialise and eat normally again.
I learned how to forgive those who’d wounded me and experienced God’s deep forgiveness and cleansing for my own bad choices. He released me from the shame and fear of the past and gave me fresh hope for my future.
The journey out of anorexia took many months. Daily there were tiny choices needed to change my thinking and to replace negative habit patterns with new, healthy ones.
Freedom from the grip of anorexia.
Almost thirty years have passed since that time. God, always generous, has continued to reveal His love to me and bring further layers of healing to my heart.
My life is richer and fuller than I ever imagined it could be. He’s blessed me with a faithful, supportive husband who treasures all that I am, four unique children and a strong, healthy body and mind.
Now, my greatest passion is encouraging teen girls and women to discover the same security and wholeness in God’s perfect love for them. He has made each of us unique reflections of His beauty and wants us to flourish, adding our own colour and personality to the lives of those around us.
It’s out of this desire to encourage that I started a blog. I’m also writing a book telling the story of my anorexia. I want people to know there is hope of healing and change.
If we are willing to follow God’s lead, He always has a way through.
“You will keep in perfect peace (she) whose mind is steadfast because she trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3