Wednesday, March 1st
RJ and Linda are without a doubt the most inspiring, awesome, and wonderful power couple I’ve ever met.
We met them at church when I was in middle school. My dad attended a men’s breakfast Bible Study with RJ, and I remember being immediately intrigued by his “crazy” running lifestyle. He actually enjoyed doing this thing he called a, “marathon.” I remember as an 12-year-old listening to this madman talk about voluntarily running 26.2 miles, and paying to run it no less!
When I turned 13, I tried out for Cross Country, and 6 months later, I was bitten by the, “running-bug” and I ran my first full marathon.
RJ invited me to the 5:00 AM Monday, Wednesday, Friday running group, and I loved it. By then, Linda had also been infected with the contagious running disease 🙂 I met some of my best friends through that MWF group. It was such a rare and precious opportunity to spend time with adults, and I loved the sense of belonging it provided me with.
A year later, my eating disorder took running away from me.
One evening in November, they came over to our house to play foosball with my family, and they both pulled me aside to lovingly remind me that I wasn’t forgotten, and that they missed running with me. They encouraged me to work hard in therapy so I would be able to run with them again soon.
Several months later, I was finally healthy enough to engage in some light running. I remember one weekend that it was particularly nice outside, but I wasn’t allowed to run more than 6 miles. RJ and Linda made a special trip to my house, ran exactly 6 miles with me, and let me talk the entire way. They genuinely listened to me, and made me feel validated. They treated me like an equal, and never made me feel like I was worth anything less because I couldn’t run as far as I used to be able to.
We share such a special relationship. They visited me often while I was in college, and invited me along to various events that they were participating in like the Outdoor Adventure Expo through Midwest Mountaineering, 3 AM Blue Moon runs, and Goosebumps 24-hour mile run.
Support is imperative throughout recovery. Somehow, RJ and Linda knew how to accept me, and not my eating disorder.
While we were at dinner last week, RJ asked if I would explain what my eating disorder felt like while I was at my darkest:
It felt like there were two people living inside my body: there was me, and then there was ED. ED started small, but he grew and grew the more I chose to ignore him instead of confronting him.
Ed was confronted head-on the day I was clinically diagnosed with anorexia nervosa (or more specifically orthorexia nervosa), and he was not going down without a fight.
He belittled, berated, and tore down what little of me was left, and worked diligently to take over my body. He told me I’d be better off dead, and fed me a constant reel of lies. He prevented me from focusing on anything besides food, and isolated me from family and friends. He told me I should be embarrassed of my diagnosis because 88 pounds on my 5’6” frame wasn’t nearly thin enough to be considered, “anorexic.”
I don’t know if it was the constant therapy sessions, the bone scan, my parents belief in me, my faith in Christ, or a combination of all of the above that finally enabled me to become stronger than ED.
Something like a light switch went off in my mind, and I realized that ED did not define me. I wanted nothing to do with him anymore, and I was finally ready to commit myself to recovery.
There were obviously peaks and valleys. Glimpses of the “ED-less Allison” I wanted to be became more and more frequent, but ED didn’t vanish completely.
He still lives with me, and he probably always will. If I could have it my way, I’d execute him entirely, but somehow, he has just enough power to stick around and attack me when I’m feeling low.
I am forever grateful for the support of friends like RJ and Linda that genuinely sought to understand the hell I was living.
For more information on how to support friends and loved ones suffering from eating disorders, please check out the following link:
or check out this book: