The Day I Cried Over Potatoes: A Story about Eating Disorder Recovery and Surrendering

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The Day I Cried Over Potatoes: A Story about Eating Disorder Recovery and Surrendering

I collapsed on my parent’s bed because the potatoes weren’t done. I remember that moment so clearly. It was Christmas day 2002. I think someone had forgotten to turn the oven on, or it had accidentally been shut off. Or maybe it was mashed potatoes that were getting made and the burner hadn’t been turned on to boil the potatoes. It doesn’t really matter. I certainly wasn’t going to be eating the potatoes anyway. What mattered was that the potatoes were still freaking hard.

I couldn’t imagine myself having to wait an extra 30-60 minutes to eat because the POTATOES weren’t done for Christmas dinner at my grandparents. I was starving, and exhausted from starving, and couldn’t hold it together any longer. I laid on my parent’s bed and cried.

My home was full of food. In fact, my dad showered us with love by always providing plentiful food. It’s quite literally his love language for others. But I couldn’t eat any it.

In the spring of that year, I had completed my college courses and had 6+ months of unpaid fieldwork to complete before I officially received my degree. I was living at home with my family. Emotionally, I was struggling HARD. As my struggle grew stronger over the next few months, I felt the immense need to establish a sense of control. I pushed pretty much everyone away from me, including my boyfriend of 2 years (now my husband…thank God he was a patient and understanding man) and my friends.

I began developing a (false) sense of control through exercise, food, and very strict structure, while making no space for anyone or anything to disrupt the way I wanted to do these things. Yet the tighter I clung to these things, it never felt like enough. I tried to control more and more, until I felt like I was holding on by the tiniest of threads at all times.

That moment on Christmas morning was an opportunity for me to recognize that the control I was trying to maintain was only raising the level of pain I felt. Yet, I used it, instead, as a way to exert even more control.

I had told myself I couldn’t eat that morning because the meals that day would require me to eat different foods (outside the tight structure of my typical day), so it was critical I didn’t have anything that morning. Also, being Christmas day, I wasn’t going to be able to exercise, so it was even more pertinent that I didn’t eat ANYTHING until the family meal that afternoon.

The entire day was painful.  Because the foods I had to eat that day had more calories than my typical diet food, I also had to eat far less of them. Yet all my body wanted was to fill the total and complete emptiness I felt. I was exhausted and starving, not only physically, but emotionally. I pushed through the pain that day and dreamed of the meals I could get back to eating the following day. Even though my typical meals weren’t meeting my needs, either, at least I would have that sense of control.

This was nowhere near the end of my struggle. That day wasn’t the day that awakened me to the reality that this was not what I was really seeking. The pain went on for many more months. And although I was fighting sooo hard to maintain a sense of control, there was always this sense that at any moment I would be standing on the ledge of an even deeper, darker hole like the one I faced that Christmas morning. The worst part was that nobody really knew my pain. I let them believe that morning that I was just tired. And I was, but it was much deeper than anyone knew at the time.

Thankfully, several months later, I began my healing journey. It was a journey I took mostly on my own, never fully admitting to ANYONE what I was going through. By the end of 2003, I was in a much better place, and over the next 3 years my recovery continued. Little by little, I experienced different levels of healing along the way.

As an Enneagram Type 1 and a Questioner who leans toward Upholder on the 4 Tendencies, I still have strong Type A personality traits and a strong thread (errrr…rope maybe) of perfectionism. I like to say I’m a “recovering perfectionist,” but the truth is it still runs DEEP in my blood.  Just this morning (on the day I was writing this), I found myself on the floor sobbing about the control I was trying to exert in ways that weren’t leading to what I truly desire. It’s no longer about food or my body. I have gone through an incredible amount of healing there. It’s simply LIFE stuff. It’s still really freaking hard for me to surrender.  

Yes, I teach about surrendering in my course, and I’ve been talking about it for years. I think I first mentioned it on my blog here. Of course I aim to walk my talk, but just as I also teach in my course, hard stuff still happens! Our growth is a journey and sometimes we circle around to similar areas of growth. That’s exactly what I love about what I teach in POWER Statements. It helps us pursue PERPETUAL GROWTH!

So, as I lay on the floor sobbing this morning (that I’m writing), I surrendered. And just as I knew it would be, there was some fear, but it was also a freaking fantastic release of what was not mine to hold onto. It was not mine to control. My job is to take loving action toward what I want and surrender the results to God.

I’m sharing this with you because I have grown in ways I never could have imagined since that Christmas day in 2002, but would you believe I’m still not “perfect?!” Surrendering is for sure one of the most difficult things I encounter in my life and yet it’s soooo freaking freeing when we are able to do so.

So, today, I ask you to surrender. I ask you to lay on your back in the grass outside or on the floor in your home (or somewhere…anywhere) with a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly and ask how you, too, can surrender control to something in your life today! If you’re like me, you can expect to feel some immense pain, but then you can also expect feelings of peace, joy, light, and freedom to rise from your pain! Wait it out because it’s worth it! I love you! XOXO

Deanna Wilcox


  • Greg Wilcox
    September 4, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Awesome Post. I’m glad you got back together with your boyfriend way back then!!!!

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