About a week or so ago, I got a visitor. My crazy twin sister Kate came by unannounced and decided to stay awhile. I don’t care much for the things Kate pulls and I don’t talk about her often and I see her even less. The truth though is that Kate is a lot like me, almost too much, in fact. She struggles with weight loss, control issues, and prior abuse stuff. She also has some great friends who love her well, and through all things. If I would listen to her when she shows up from time to time, I might actually learn a thing or two…but I usually don’t.
I spent a lot of time with Kate this week, listening to her and beginning to get an understanding of how deep the rabbit hole goes for her in her struggles. They run deep. Far deeper then I am sure she ever imagined and after spending a week watching her self destruct then begin to return to the land of normal I can assure you Kate is certifiably crazy. But I love her anyway. She is special and unique. A true gift. I think, despite all the drama she caused this week, I will keep her around.
Here is what Kate did.
Kate has been losing a lot of weight. Like me, she has used her weight as a form of protection and that protective layer is disappearing and all that she is left with is this terrifying, uncontrollable fear that her safety is at stake. This week, she began to feel overwhelmingly afraid, alone, vulnerable, unsafe, angry, sad….the list goes on. Kate didn’t know what to do with all of this, so she went back to her old stand by. Food. Food at one point was her best friend. It comforted her when she was sad. It helped her to numb herself to the pain that life threw at her. And food helped her to form her protective layer that kept her from ever having to live fully and authentically with the full spectrum of emotions and feelings present. (My goodness, I can so relate to this!)
So She ate. Probably not as much as she used to when she went to food for comfort. But enough to know what she was doing just was not good. She stopped at Tim’s and got a few donuts…then moved on to McD’s and grabbed a couple of sandwiches…then moved on home and had a couple ice creams. Then she got online, only to find her good friend, Mike, waiting for her to talk. Mike, is a lot like my beloved Coach or Aaron. She can’t hide from him because he knows too much now. They talked long into the night about her binging and her need and desire for control and how as she continues to lose weight, her issues are no longer about the weight itself, but about how God wants her to let go. She doesn’t need to cling so tightly and the more she does the less effective she is going to be at losing weight. They talked about her fears of losing weight and how as she continues to do so, men continue to make comments and it is scary. By 3 AM she was feeling better, able to laugh a little bit and eventually fall into some semblance of sleep.
The next day, Kate thought she had a handle on things. She didn’t sleep much the night before. She woke up far earlier than you might think for someone having gone to sleep at around 4 AM…but no big deal, right? By evening, Kate was beginning to feel all those chaotic emotions again. The fear, the sadness, the vulnerability and nakedness. The fear of having put her story so hugely out there and being so known. She began to feel really unsafe. All the emotions were running rampant and were so very loud, she could hardly think. She didn’t want to NOT feel these things though. On some level she knew that the feelings themselves were good and a sign of all the healing she had come through, but they were just so loud. If only they could be quieter, all would be good. Then, she could think and perhaps process them. She knew though, that food was no longer her friend and co-conspirator in this matter. She noticed she had some Vodka and had a drink. Then two. Then the vodka was gone. And the noise of the emotions swirling around was not any quieter, so she moved on to the rum she found in her room. She, however, had nothing in the house to mix it with, so she drank it straight up. Finally, things were a little quieter in her head and heart but now the room was spinning crazy and she just wanted to talk. She texted Mike and her other dear friend, Jen. The two of them quickly began to surmise what Kate was up to, and began to talk and soon Jen was at Kate’s house and Mike was working at convincing Kate to open the door for her. In the end, Kate was up till 4 AM and awake again by 8 AM and the emotions were back in full force. Alcohol was no longer her friend either.
(I wish I had known how to best help Kate. But the reality is, it was hitting far too close to home, and I was being pulled along for the ride.)
Mike and Jen were now quite concerned and frightened for Kate and her overall well being and safety. Both know her pretty well and neither thought she would ever go to these lengths, at least with the alcohol. Mike was particularly concerned with what is next. Pills? Rampant Sex with unknown men? He was no longer willing to put anything past Kate when she was so hell bent on self-destructing and freaking out. For the next night, both of them suggested Kate stay at Jen’s house, just for observation. Just so they wouldn’t worry. Well, by now, Kate was beginning to realize the drama she was causing in her friends lives and in her own. She was beginning to see where this was heading and not wanting that either, she agreed to stay there for one night. I am sure Kate’s friends were quite relieved.
Kate showed up at Jen’s house in time to get some dinner together for the two of them when she returned from work. When that was done, all of her energy was spent. She was exhausted from so much lack of sleep the last two nights, she decided to lie down. She lay on the bed she normally sleeps on when she goes to this friend’s house. All those emotions came back, worse than ever. Kate’s heart started racing. Her breathing became very rapid. She was gripped with fear at every noise. Kate said it was weird. She could almost look down and see herself and know in her head all of this was illogical. The every day noises of people dragging their garbage cans out to the curb was nothing to tremble over. There was nothing logical to be so frightened of and yet, there she was curled up on a bed, unable to move and terrified. She knew this is the kind of stuff that gets people put in psych wards, but she was unable to stop it. She began to get scared of being scared like this. She knew that Jen was coming home soon and she would be scared if she found her like this, but even that could not stop the emotions from coursing through her and taking over her body. She began to feel very crazy and was all too aware that at one point in her childhood her mom had been hospitalized for serious depression and anxiety and even at one point was suicidal. She began to wonder if this is how it started out for her mom. That scared her all the more and her body continued to tremble. She could literally feel the organs in her body jumping around within her.
Sure enough, Jen came home and was highly concerned. She has known Kate for nigh on 15 years and has never seen her in a state like this. After talking to Kate for a bit, Jen was able to talk the trembling down and suggested that perhaps they should do everything possible to get Kate to her old therapist the next day. Kate agreed. Little did Jen know, that Kate had already emailed The Therapist earlier in the day. They called The Therapist and were able to speak to her. Unfortunately, The Therapist would not be able to see Kate in person but spent 45 minutes on the phone with her. She had also responded to Kate’s email at great length.
The results are this. Kate is normal. Kate will be ok and while it might FEEL crazy, she is not, nor does she need to be committed or anything. As Kate has lost her weight and her protective covering, she has lost a measure of control. That, combined with all the other factors of her life right now, it is completely normal for her to feel the way she is, given her own story of childhood sexual abuse. Like me, Kate locked away her emotions for a long, long time, especially if it was something other than happy. Like me, Kate is learning to feel again. Like me, Kate has attempted to lose weight and has mysteriously gained it all back plus some when people started noticing. The Therapist said that had she been feeling things those other times, this is likely what she would have felt. She also said that because it is the very thing that Kate had set up to protect herself that she was losing, it is natural and normal to feel so unsafe, vulnerable and scared. It is likely what she felt when she was a child as her control was taken away from her when she was abused. She said for Kate to continue to be able to effectively lose weight, she HAS TO FEEL this stuff. She has to go through this. This is part of the normal process of achieving whole health.
The 4 days following that night, Kate did not sleep much. Her mind was whirling. When she did sleet she was painfully aware that she was lying in her bed. She was aware of every noise and it woke her up. Kate used to be a very sound sleeper. Nothing would wake her up. When she slept, she slept very deeply. Not that week. Thursday night, Jen came over and stayed the night with her, just so she wouldn’t have to be alone. Kate again got 4 or less hours of sleep and the same thing happened Friday night. As she would lie there, trying to sleep, she would simply be aware that she is not sleeping. Then she would be aware that she is actually starting to drift off and would get so excited that sleep was coming, that she would wake herself up. I am sure it had to be frustrating for her. Sometimes her heart would race and she would get that scared feeling, but The Therapist told her how to work through this. Half the battle was in knowing what was going on. The other half was speaking truth into the terrified feelings. When Kate ran out of words, she listened to Truth music on her IPOD.
Kate’s story runs so closely together with mine. We feel and do and react in so many of the same ways. It is almost as if we are the same person. Like I said earlier, Kate doesn’t visit often. I don’t let her, because as she lives out her story, it forces me to look deeper at mine. I talk a lot of bravado about looking at and engaging the stories of our lives, but that doesn’t make it any less scary.
In summary, Kate is not crazy. She is just, for once, finally feeling the full emotions of her life and it is overwhelming her at times. Kate has faith though, that her Father, who loves her dearly and calls her by name, will never leave her or forsake her. That in the midst of all this chaotic craziness, He has a plan and a purpose. That further and greater healing is hers to be had. Kate is learning to trust Him more and more each day and to know that He is always good. That He always performs heart surgery in the most gentlest of ways and that He would not be allowing this if she could not handle it or if she was not in a safe place to experience it all. Kate is forever grateful for her friends. She knows God has placed them in her life to be His physical arms to help carry her when she just can’t move and to hold her and let her know that she is in fact safe and normal, even when it doesn’t feel that way at all. I could learn much from Kate, I am certain of it.
Some people have an evil twin. I have a crazy twin and I love her. She is a strong woman. She has faith. She has friends. She is loved dearly. She is incredibly courageous and I know that as she continues to walk this out, she will be victorious and one day…one day hopefully soon, this chapter of her life will close and her abuse story will no longer have such a hold on her. One day, soon, I want to see Kate dance, like only a person who is truly free and loved can dance. I want to dance with her, free and loved.