Have you ever had a toxic friend or relationship? I have experienced a toxic relationship with a friend I’ve had my whole life.
We’ve hung out together for innumerable hours and celebrated many milestones together. When I was sad or bored or angry or frustrated or overwhelmed, my friend was always there with promises to comfort me, pick me up, make me happy and take away my pain.
Those promises never came true. My friend didn’t have the ability to meet those needs in my life but I still kept coming back hoping my cup would be filled up at this dry, empty well of a friendship. The expectation and hope that I put in my friend always led to disappointment and then anger and sometimes the anger turned to an out of control rage inside of me. Unrealistic expectations and unmet needs can do that.
I could see we had an unhealthy attachment because all of my emotions were wrapped up in this friend but I couldn’t see a way out. Even though I hated the way I felt, I couldn’t imagine life without this friendship because we had been together for so long. What could life possibly look like without it?
We have been the best of friends and the absolute worst enemies my whole life. Up until recently that is. Do you have a toxic friend like this in your life? The friend I have been describing is not a person but a thing and this friend’s name is Food.
I have spent so many years looking to Food to fill me up emotionally while filling me up physically. Comfort me, calm me, numb me, excite me, reward me…Food has been my closest friend for a lifetime.
A friend and a traitorous foe. An unfulfilling backstabber that only led me deeper into disappointment, anger and rage layered with shame, anxiety and depression. Even at my lowest rock bottom knowing I needed to end this relationship I felt paralyzed and overwhelmed with fear.
The possibility of turning my back and walking away from this mainstay of my existence felt scary and impossible at the beginning of my recovery journey. How could I possibly make it through each day without my faithful friend to lean on? The mind is a tricky battlefield. Quick to forget how unfaithful our toxic friends actually are.
My journey started with one step of faith: simply admitting that what I have been doing for 30+ years has only gotten me deeper into a pit of despair. Then a second step of faith: asking God to help me trust Him to find a better way.
As God started removing my attachment to that toxic friendship, I could see more clearly how I had been allowing myself to be poisoned day in and day out. I could see that Food was never going to give me all of the things I so desperately needed and it was obvious now that it had been foolish to ever think anything different from something so empty. The farther I walk from that pit the clearer I can see how much more life there is to be lived outside of that toxic dependency on Food.
Detaching from Food and setting a boundary around myself has opened up more space in my mind and heart for God to fill me with more of Him. I’m finding the more filled up I am with all of the life giving things from God the less I need Food.
I can finally answer the question, “What is life without Food?”
It’s true life.
It’s life how God intended it to be lived.
It’s a life that makes me thankful for how my eyes have been opened to what has kept me chained and bound for so long to a very limited existence.
It’s a life lived more abundantly with abundant grace, abundant love, abundant forgiveness. For others and finally, after all these years, for me, too.
Life without the toxic Food friendship is a life filled with experiences and people that pour God’s richest blessings into my empty cup.
It’s a life completely dependent on God to comfort me, calm me, bring me joy and bless me beyond all I could ever ask or imagine.
It’s a life lived learning to love and trust and grow the ultimate friendship with my Savior, my Jesus.
There is nothing more filling than that.
What or who are you looking to today to fill you up? What is the toxic friend in your life that you need to break up with? What dry, empty well do you need to walk away from?
This has been the scariest and hardest journey I have ever taken but I am learning that it’s ok to take it one step at a time. One day at a time. One choice at a time. One step combined with the next step and the next eventually makes a mile. One day combined with the next day and the next eventually leads you to a week, a month, a year. One choice combined with the next choice and the next eventually leads you to a freedom you never thought possible.
If you’re facing a similar struggle whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling, anything…you are not alone.
There is no shame in asking for help or admitting you’ve reached rock bottom. You don’t have to live this way anymore.
There is hope. There is help. One step, one day, one choice at a time.
What step are you willing to take today?
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