Tonight, I googled “Orthodox fasting and eating disorders.” I came across this website: http://oca.org/questions/dailylife/orthodox-fasting
Amazing that my questions were answered so simply. No, I wasn’t the one who made the inquiry on the website, but I thought the exact same things. This being the first advent I’ve willingly participated in (horribly, too), it’s proved to me far more difficult than I ever could have imagined. Here’s what I thought would happen: Not eating meat and dairy for forty days? Cool, I’ll lose weight. My skin will probably clear up, and I’ll be helping the environment.” In my hazy atheistic narcissistic days, veganism was something I loosely followed, because it was chic in my eyes, just like helping the planet and saving whales. I thought I was a martyr. Ick.
I should probably also mention that I have a history with disordered eating. Now that the fast is almost over, it’s just now hitting me how much of a disordered eating approach I’ve taken to Advent, and I’m ashamed of myself. Truly. The process of binge eating (which sadly leads to binging and purging) involves eating (involuntarily, it often feels) copious amounts of food, usually after going several hours longer than typical without food. It occurs in dieting quite a bit when one deprives oneself of vital macro and micro nutrients obtained through plant and animal foods (yes, both). So, I’m no stranger to the process, having been on every possible diet imaginable. Usually what I would do was eat little to no protein, fat, or carbs, and then wreak havoc on a jar of peanut butter or some fat free potato chips. My body was crying out for nourishment.
We cannot survive without food. It is essential. It can also be wonderful, especially when lingered over with family or friends. But so often I hate food, because I allow it (or some facet of it) to have power over me. And that’s what this fast became for me. Another way for food to have power over me.
So clearly I missed the point!
Another great point the aforementioned website brings up is the fact that fasting is not, NOT, a form of self deprivation, suffering. I mean, it is suffering, in that I have to suffer through another peanut butter sandwich and suffer through not eating ice cream for forty days, but that’s the backwards thinking, not the true joy of fasting! “We fast in order to get a grip on our lives and to regain control of those things that have gotten out of control.” Like self indulgence and greed. Ironically, the process of choosing a college is possibly one of the most narcissistic indulgences, and for that to be happening during a Great Fast is just cruel. God, why are you doing this to me?!?!
Calm down, Melanie. It’s not about me. It’s about Him. Maybe you can use these next few days to remember that. I feel light, and like I’ve gone through this before. Maybe I have and am just sluggish so I can’t remember.