So I Stopped Eating: Guest Post by Emily Wierenga {And Book Giveaway & Gratitude!}

Welcome, lovely readers–all of you–friends–yes, beautiful you–to a guest post by my friend Emily Wierenga, one of the most loving, gracious, generous writers and bloggers I have met in this blogging realm. She asked me to write on anorexia for her over at her Chasing Silhouettes site, coaxed me through the process–a process which was difficult as it brought up old wounds from the past–and cheered me on–being Jesus’ hands, pulling my talent to the surface, bringing glory to God. She probably didn’t realize she was doing all of that–Emily just loves because it’s in her heart–not because of any notion of “Christian duty”–I love the soul that is Emily. Can you tell? You will like her, too. I promise. It’s because of writers like her that I have had the courage to strip naked of fear and wear brave fierce. Please take a moment to read her story, to browse the links and consider buying (or pre-ordering) her book, and don’t forget to leave a comment telling me about a loved one who is dealing with an eating disorder, or your own battle with an eating disorder and why you would like to win the book–or why or how you would like to win to use it as a resource–in your church, in your school, etc! I am excited to share her book with you! The release date is September 25th, 2012. Won’t you join me in celebrating with her and getting the message out? Share on facebook, twitter–use the links at the bottom of this post! Thanks!

So I stopped eating
By Emily Wierenga

We were moving, for the tenth time in seven years, and I’d seen a bad word on the side of the grocery store wall (but had no one to ask about it) and Mum didn’t tell me I was beautiful and I couldn’t go to public school and Dad was never home, so I stopped eating.

I chewed pencil, tasting lead. Our heads were bent over textbooks, together at the kitchen table, and Mum’s back was turned, while she rolled dough on the counter, and I wanted her to look at me, tell me she loved me, over and over, give me a mirror and trace my cheeks and help me believe I was worth something, but she didn’t know how, having never known it herself, and so I broke my pencil pressing it into prose and tried to find myself in the lines of the page.

I heard the sounds of girls going to school, ran to the door, and saw they were wearing pink backpacks and I wanted to run with them, but my legs were too fat; no one likes a fat preacher’s kid. Besides, we were home-schooled in case we should move again. Also, I had cried when I’d gone to kindergarten, so Mum had brought me home, ordered books, and vowed to teach me. That kind of thing was supposed to tell me she loved me, but I didn’t feel it. Because, to me, love was words and gifts. So I sat down to do my math and tried to forget.

I tried to forget the way Dad laughed with strangers in their pews, listened to them, as if their stories were more important than mine. And the way he closed the door to his study and sighed when I knocked, timid to ask him a question. I tried to forget the way he spanked me not knowing what I’d done wrong, only that Mum told him to because she was too angry to do it herself, and scared of that anger. It didn’t hurt me anymore, not even when he used his belt, because I refused to let it.

A neighbor saw me on the carpet, toy-playing, seven-year-old oblivion, and said, “What a big girl,” and I carried those words around like a bird in a cage, until one day the bird got loose and I stopped eating. Soon I would run on thin legs with the girls next-door.

It was a slow-stop, one that began with saying “No,” and the “No” felt good. I refused dessert. I refused the meals Mom dished up for me. I refused the spreads on my bread and then the margarine and then the bread itself. And it felt good, like the ribs on my fingers, as I practiced my counting.
I was nine and I felt 109. Mom let me go to school again, but I wasn’t allowed to do English class, because the books were too risqué, and she still didn’t say I was beautiful. The days were long and I was tired and no one could hear me, so I starved harder and the teachers couldn’t see me, so I shrunk my words making them smaller, smaller, until the teachers were forced to pull down their glasses and study the prose I’d made, the winning prose, and I aced class and I flunked recess.

 At night, I dreamt of food. Mum found me, hunting for chocolates in my bedspread. I wanted her to hug me and make the fear go away, but then I was worried I’d eat real chocolates, because my guard would be let down with the soft of her touch, so I stopped hugging her for two years. My legs were getting thin, and that was what mattered, but I dreamt about her arms, and woke up hugging myself.

God didn’t care. He made me recite names each night before bed and I couldn’t go to sleep without reciting, because then people would die, and I wanted to die but I didn’t know it until the day everyone tried to force me to eat and I refused it all, and now it was clear to the world and maybe to God too: I was in control.

It was supper and we were seated and Mum was dishing, dishing, dishing and the macaroni and cheese piled orange and white as she handed them, plates plunking against old wood table, and I’d already decided, it tasted like straw, even before I took a bite.

Tonight, I would eat only half, and she’d threaten me with no dessert and I’d tell her point blank, that’s fine. Maybe it would make her worn sweaters unravel and her straight-lined school schedule smear and maybe then she’d take me into her arms and tell me she was sorry.

Sorry for praying that prayer when I was in her womb, the one I learned of later on, the one she said with good intentions not knowing how it would hurt me, the prayer which uttered God, don’t make my baby beautiful, in case she becomes vain. (I can see Mum’s hands trembling on her abdomen in the night as she offered her baby like Hannah did with Samuel, and it makes me love her, yet, despise).

In my own dark nights I worked to reverse that prayer. I’d train as though for war, to see food as nothing but a trap. I’d lie there feeling ribs, measuring wrists, planning the next day’s meals. And if there was to be a party somewhere, soon, I’d eat less in preparation, allowing myself the freedom to snack for then no one would know the difference.

By day, I’d peer into the mirror as if into my soul and imagine myself skinnier, beautiful. I’d creak onto the toilet seat after bath, spend half an hour turning this way and that, analyzing naked bones. Sucking in and pulling skin and strategizing how to become invisible.
Salvation came through imagination.

 The apple grew a face which mocked me, and so I didn’t finish it, for every time I defeated the food, I gained points against Mum, and maybe God, and I was winning. The food had nothing on me. Sometimes I’d trick it, making the piece of bread think it would fill me up then rip it into halves and eat only one, and there was a thrill in leaving food on the plate, as though I could disappoint it. Even the raisins in the tapioca seemed to stare holes, and I would push it away, feigning fullness.

But food was everywhere, and it never slept. It would beat me in my dreams—the cakes, the pies, the sandwiches. In my mind there would be a buffet, high-calorie. I’d gorge, drool, and crumbs would spill over into daytime and I’d wake feeling bloated, spend the next day getting back at food by eating less.

I’d suck in my cheeks in the mirror; I’d suck them in for photos and I’d try not to talk so I could suck them in day-long. It was tiring, this looking like a model, but I was determined to be beautiful. I would weigh myself every time I ate, every time I went to the bathroom; I’d take off my shoes, my socks, my pants, just to see the numbers drop.

And I wept through the pain, wept behind closed doors with my arms wrapped tight, but I couldn’t stop.


                      (Repost; originally appeared at The High Calling, November 2010)
                                                                                       (**photo added) 


Emily Wierenga is a wife, mother or four boys (two of whom are hers), artist, and author of ‘ChasingSilhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder’ (Ampelon, 2012) available hereFor more info, please visit 

you can:
View Endorsements
Read Sample Chapters

and i’m wondering… will you help me?

i know many of you have not struggled with eating disorders, but there are 8 million Americans that do… and many of them are young girls, in families that are desperate for solutions… there is only one solution, and that is Christ, and this book points to Him. would you help me get the word out about this?

will you pre-order a copy for your church library? your school library? for the family down the street?

and will you share about this book on fB and twitter? and pray? yes, please pray.

i am also happy to do guest posts/ profile pieces for your blogs to help get word out, too.

(thank you)

Purchase Emily Wierenga’s new book Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder within the first four weeks after its September 25, 2012 release date and receive a special invitation to watch an online forum on eating disorders with bestselling author Dr. Gregory L. JantzFindingBalance CEO Constance Rhodes and author Emily Wierenga. Readers must email a scanned receipt, a picture of them with the book or tell us when and where they purchased the book to, and they will be logged in to receive a special invitation to watch the event. They may also submit questions for the panel to answer, some of which will be selected and answered during the forum.

Thank you, sweet Emily, for gracing my blog today with your story and your heart. Friends, I am on a blogging and social-media break this week–sometimes I must pull back–a short hiatus–I always know when it’s time. {You can read here to find out more about this and why most of the time I quietly write here at the blog and the comment box stays hushed.} I am thankful that Emily was willing to help me out with a guest-post today and I’m so *grateful* she put voice to the feelings, thoughts, and actions I had as a young girl dealing with anorexia-bulemia–things I was trapped in and didn’t know how to speak of, she has made palpable here, helped me find my voice after all these years, and she will help so many others find their’s through her book. Even though I can’t answer every comment, we want to hear your story–we want to hear your voice. Speak. We hear you.  *If you don’t want to be entered into the giveaway, just let me know in your comment–but still feel free to tell us your story or your thoughts! 


Friends, please watch this beautiful video; you will be blessed! I promise–such redemption!! 

**Don’t forget to comment for the book giveaway! **The giveaway is over on Friday, September 28 @ midnight. I will email the winner this weekend! If you don’t want to be entered into the giveaway, just tell me in the comments–but please feel free to tell us your thoughts, to tell your story, or to just give Emily encouragement! 

Still counting gifts from a merciful God…….{Gratitude # 977-996}

3 gifts ugly-beautiful…
…Not getting to run, but being able to take my girls to Swim Awards Ceremony…
Having to miss CC because two children are sick–one with a fever; all of us taking a break…
…Bella’s fever so high; her sweetness as I take care of her…

A gift folded, fixed, freckled…
…Lorna making quinoa and beans for everyone for lunch…
…my daughter folded into me in the dark, all this exhaling…
…a lone, freckled orange-red butterfly fluttering happily by…

3 gifts in conversations…
…Husband listening to my heart…
…Lilly finally going to speech therapy and signing more words…
…my girls’ whispered ‘i love you’s’…

3 gifts in salvation…
…unmerited grace…
…unmerited favor–I’m a daughter of the King! I’m beloved!…
….the security of the believer…I’m sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption and nothing can take that away…

A gift rattling, receding, reclaiming…
…spiritual sickness rattling against these cages…
…all the unnecessary, all the “fluff”, all the “should’s” and “should-not’s” being pushed back into wide-open grace…
…seeing by faith God’s faithfulness, goodness, and fruitfulness in my life–looking for it intentionally…

3 gifts quiet…
…the moon glowing over tree line in the black of night…
…my soul, watching the fullness of everything, not partaking in debates so easily sparked around me, quietly observing and seeing His truth in everything…
…soft worship lullabies and sweet, quiet children that work as I get my classroom ready…

the grace for another week…

for these migraines and this anxiety I know He will heal…

On In Around button


51 thoughts on “So I Stopped Eating: Guest Post by Emily Wierenga {And Book Giveaway & Gratitude!}”

  1. Thank you for a difficult story so well written. I think we all long for acknowledgement and affection and just seek it in different ways. For me it was perfection – if I could just do everything good enough, then I would be loved…

  2. Oh how this thrills my heart…I love that you Emily are walking beside Nacole…and you Nacole being in Emily life…two very precious , Jesus loving…passionate ladies. I don’t need to be in the free offer…I already pre-ordered a copy and I can’t wait to read your heart Emily. Nacole…”see” you and your sweet family every morning…we need to touch base soon. ((hugs)) to you both:)

  3. It must be difficult to bare your soul. These words suck me in to your pain. I want to put arms around the little girl and tell her how beautiful she is.

  4. Emily, you are so beautiful, and I’m just grateful we met, even if only in cyberspace. My heart is deeply touched by your story, which no doubt will be a healing balm for others suffering with eating disorders. You breathed life into your memory, made it sing the blues you sang as a child, made it reach out to love-deprived souls who try to compensate loss by gaining control.

  5. Re-reading your story, Em, is still touching…So glad you were able to help Nacole, and thanks, Nacole, for getting the word out about Em's book…no need to count me in for the giveaway, as I will be ordering my own…might also do a giveaway on my blog…I will tweet your post…blessings, Nacole…you are wise to take care of yourself and your family…love and Hugs to you 🙂 P.S. Thanks for visiting as I know you are very busy 🙂

  6. Thank you so much, beautiful friend. Still love you so much–you have been a constant cheerleader–that says a lot and means more to me than you know. That I'm still beside your chair? Makes my eyes well up every time you say it–especially at this difficult time, especially now.

    Oh yes, Emily is passionate and loving–love her heart. Grateful to her for gracing the blog this week. Love you (((Ro))).

  7. Pamela, thank you so much for dropping by to read Emily's story! Oh yes, I felt the pain of it, too. And in the book, there is much redemption–so beautiful–and the book can be for any woman–because 75% of us deal with disordered eating in some way–we are all affected by our culture. Blessings.

  8. Sure, Laura–it's all my pleasure. Thank you so much for dropping by to read Emily's story! And thank you for spreading the word! Blessings and love, beautiful Laura.

  9. Thank you, (((Dolly))), for the beautiful soul that you are. You always give me so much grace, friend. Thank you for getting the word out about the post and book! And, Dolly, no problem–I love visiting you–it's always sheer joy. xo.

  10. Thank you, beautiful Jennifer, for stopping by. Your words are a gift as well. And I agree–this book is something people–a lot of women, especially–need to get their hands on. Love to you.

  11. Oh this got me all excited!
    (and I wrote a long comment only to have my session time out and lose it…haha) 😉

    It doesn't matter I haven't struggled with an eating disorder. If we're all honest with each other, every woman at some point has battled with self image….
    And if there's anyone battling this, I would want them to read Emily's words. She has a way of captivating your soul…and pointing you towards the One who oozes love and grace.

    I'm sharing this all over…Thank you, Nacole for using your space here to do the same.

  12. ~chuckle~…Nikki, you make me laugh. I'm sorry you lost your comment–I know how frustrating that is–while other things call your name. And you are so right–it doesn't matter you haven't struggled this particular way–you're a woman–that bonds us in our struggle. Men struggle with this as well–but it's not near as prevalent as with women and girls. Emily is truly a captivating, loving soul. *Thank you*, dear girl, for sharing–you are a treasure, (((Nikki))). xo

  13. Emily and Nacole, thank you. This is something I have known intimately within my family at multiple times and with multiple people, including myself.

    You are brave and beautiful. Both of you God women, simply beautiful.

    Emily, I would love to have you guest-post. And Nacole, will you guest post for me too? If I could, I would hope on a plane to each of you and sit over tea, diet-coke, water, wine ??? and chat, girlchat, until the cows come home….maybe one day. I love you both. Elizabeth email me if you have ideas of guest posting…

  14. I've read her story before and am captivated by it every time. I may not have struggled with anorexia, but I know the battle of being thin enough and eating just enough so that I make it through the day without getting light headed and headachey. It's a real battle for men and women alike, I'm so glad you highlighted it on your blog to share hers and your stories for others,may God bless you both greatly!

  15. I always love running into Emily in whatever far corner of the web. 🙂
    And Nacole, I remember your post at Chasing Silhouettes. So brave.
    This issue is no stranger to me, either. But the hope offered in this book and in the words you two unveil, this hope is Jesus.
    May He be lifted high and support us on every leanin' side.

  16. Emily and Nacole… two beautiful women of God. Let me tell you… You are beautiful.
    These words touch the depths of my heart. So very many ache like this and my prayer is that I might be arms of love to them and offer words of encouragement to them…
    I will definitely post this and spread the news of this book… I must read it myself!
    God's grace ever flowing… Jesus our hope of glory… and healing
    love you ladies!

  17. Wow. I don't know what else to say but wow. Your writing is griping and the story even more so. I have a dear friend who suffered with an eating disorder for years, until she tried to kill herslef. God intervened and now she is the most precious, healthy, beautiful young lady. I will share your book with her.

  18. I had come across her blog/book yesterday and with tears in my eyes and pain in my chest, I read all I could about her story. I too have suffered eating disorders throughout my life. And it is a pain and a suffering that no one else can truly understand (or comprehend) unless they themselves have suffered. And that is why I have always spoken openly of my struggles, especially to those who are younger, to let them know they are not alone, there is a better way, and how to get help. By sharing my story, I've been able to help others and that makes all of my previous suffering worth it. I don't know how else to expain it. I had always been insecure but it peaked my junior year of high school. Right at gymnastics season was staring and I decided that I needed to lose a few lbs. I was 5'2' and 112 lbs, what on earth was I seeing in the mirror?? This was the slippery slope that spiraled downward until I was starving myself, because I did not feel like I deserved to eat. And at night, I prayed for God to “bring me home” because I didn't want to live anymore. I was not saved at that time, but I did pray daily, and to this day it breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes to recall that child praying to God to let her die. DIE. And it breaks my heart because I know there are others who feel that way RIGHT NOW. So Kudos to Emily for sharing her story and kudos to all those who are sharing it on their blogs, facebook, twitter pages. Our children are precious. We need to let them (and all the children out there) know just how beautiful and precious they are. To those who are still fighting, know this. You ARE beautiful. You DESERVE to eat, and be happy, and feel love, and to LIVE. To truly live. Your ED is only something that can hurt you, and bring you down. You can never find happiness with it, trust me I tried (I have been both anorexic and bulimic). If anyone needs someone to talk to, I'd be happy to talk to you and share my story.


  19. Elizabeth, I'm sorry it's taken this long to get back to you. I've been in a little bit of a fog these past couple weeks. I would love to write for you! I'm going to try to find your email and shoot you a line or three. Oh, and yes, chat over wine or tea we would. Love to you.

  20. Susan, you are such a lovely friend and a wonderful encouragement to me here. You warm my soul, friend. Thank you so much for spreading the news!

  21. Alecia,

    Thank you for the kind words. Oh, all of us women struggle with weight in some way, I think, and that bonds us. Yes, a battle for men as well. God bless you, too, and I pray that you rest in the provision of His grace for you, knowing that you don't have to strive so hard for perfection, friend. I'm learning with you, (((friend))).

  22. Kelli, this: The words you two unveil, this hope is Jesus.” Yes! I agree with Em–amen, let it be so. You are a beautiful soul, sweet (((Kelli))). Thank you for your words, friend.

  23. Amy, I'm sorry it's taken this long to get back to you–and oh yes, friend, you are so right. It's hard to understand unless you've suffered that way, but women all suffer at the hands of our society's views on beauty, no? I think this bonds us all. I am grateful for your input here, and your story you've shared with us. *Thank you* for sharing your heart. Blessings to you.

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