Someone tweeted a link, and, liking the title, I clicked. I found a fine writer and a gifted artist at Imperfect Prose. I found a wife and mother. And over time, I found a young woman who was brutally honest about her eating disorder. She didn’t dwell on it in her blog posts, but she was open and vulnerable. And I remember thinking how that openness, that vulnerability, could help a lot of people.
Eating disorders are one tough group of diseases, wreaking havoc on the sufferer, the family, and friends. Emily Wierenga has worked her way through, but it’s still not easy. And what she’s learned can be of enormous benefit to others.
Welcome to Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder, Emily’s new book that is equal parts story, vulnerability, information, encouragement, and hope. I caught up with her recently, and she found the time to answer a few questions.
Q: Reading this book is having one’s eyes opened to what is clearly a terrible and life-threatening situation. There were parts of this story that chilled my heart, and none more than the image of a nine-year-old Emily beginning the process of starving herself. A nine-year-old child?
I agree; it’s a young age. Yet I didn’t feel young. I felt very, very old. I had absorbed so much by that point, and constantly over-thought everything, and my parents had put a lot of responsibility on my shoulders (me being the oldest of four). So in my mind, I was much older than my age.
Sadly, mine is not an uncommon story. As I note in my book, “Recent surveys indicated that four out of five ten-year-old American girls have been on a diet; and children as young as six are dieting. Many seven-year-old girls are refusing to eat birthday cake because it contains too many calories.”
Q: Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia have deep roots in family dynamics and relationships. Your parents and siblings clearly participated in the writing of the book. How did they respond to reading what you had written?
I cannot begin to express the admiration I have for my parents, siblings, and husband. Even now, their humility and openness to sharing their hurts, their memories, and their forgiveness brings tears to my eyes. It took me so long to realize the damage I’d inflicted; so long to gain the strength to look back and see what I’d done, the rubble I’d left in the wake of my destructive behavior. They picked themselves up with God’s grace, dusted themselves off, and helped me to rebuild my confidence and our family. I couldn’t have done this without them…
(for more of this interview which Glynn Young conducted, won’t you join me over here at The High Calling? thank you friends.)