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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

From Stand By to First Class

Blog posts are funny things. I started this yesterday with an entirely different angle but

lost the draft before it could be saved. Looking back I think it was just God….saving me from myself….again. The angle I was going to take was pretty cool….and God was the center of attention because it was basically sharing my excitement at having taken God off ‘stand by’ in my life 31 years ago as of May 31. But He has other plans so I best get to it.

I don’t know about you but I’ve never flown first class so I’ve not a lot of things to use for comparison, but when I walk through first class to get to coach seating I take note. I see large seats. Leather. A personal attendant. I see folks being first priority and being well taken care of. Unfortunately I’ve treated myself as a ‘stand by’ passenger most of my life. But that just changed. As in 20 minutes ago.

Think about it first of all. Stand by passengers tend to hover on the sideline staying out of everyone else’s way until they know if there is room for them. They might have stressed yet hopeful looks in their eyes. Or maybe just stressed. Okay…stressed. They hold their baggage close to them so as to swoop it up in their arms the second their name is called. They live life at the ready usually only to be put back on hold.

And so have I lived my life. I have almost always put myself last but made it sound Biblical: “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Right spirit, wrong application. Newsflash: yes it is possible to misapply Scripture. Sorry for the reality check but someone had to say it.  🙂

As I was saying….I have most always put myself last. In the context of my eating disorder it plays out like this: I might be looking in the fridge for leftovers to take for lunch. I see something I like but then opt to not take it thinking ‘(insert name) might want it for lunch today. I don’t want to take what someone else might want.’ Or maybe I won’t take as much as I want to eat because I want to leave more for others. Or maybe I won’t share something out of the fear of someone’s reaction so I keep it to myself until the last possible moment having missed out on a world of possible support in between. Or even last night – I froze trying to find something to eat for supper and walked around the kitchen aimlessly for 5 minutes only to settle on a hotdog. It was that or skip eating. Welcome to the hell inside the mind of an eating disordered person. The thought about not taking something for lunch is one of my telltale trigger signs….it was in fact that exact observation of the thought’s return that eventually led me to making the call to get help.


All of that has been in play even in the last week. The ‘keeping thoughts to myself’ is huge for me too…under the guise of protecting myself from more hurt or frustration or scrutiny. There is some validity to that thought but there is also a lot of selling others short in that thought as well. I just lived that scenario in my life. Right across the hall.

I finally have an appointment with a nutritionist. It has been a hellish battle just to get to that point of picking up the phone so by the time I finally made the call it was easier than I expected. The next step was telling Mom…not in a ‘I have to report to her my whereabouts’ way but in a ‘this is where I will be so you can plan accordingly’ kind of way. I’m like everyone else – always thinking about ‘what will Mom think of me?’ I had spent about 20 minutes thinking through when to tell her and how to do it, drawing boundaries in my mind ‘in case’ different things came up. I just felt more and more compelled that it was the right time so I just said it matter of factly. She asked what the appointment was for, I told her, and gave a quick reason – “to get my eating back on track.” I had previously decided I wasn’t going to lie or cover up, two of the tricks of an ED that keep you trapped in your cycle, so I knew how I wanted to respond. After all I had just spent 20 minutes of mental and emotional energy rehearsing, so now it was time to watch it play out!

I must say had I followed my assumptions I would be missing out on the incredible feeling I am experiencing right now. I feel like I bumped myself from ‘stand by’ to first class. And here’s why:

  1. I let someone in. I could have hidden this entire journey until a more ‘obvious’ time to tell someone but decided to just be open and honest about it while protecting whatever I still want to protect. It put me in control of my situation and not my presumed stressors.

  2. I put me first! That’s the biggest thing…I finally bumped myself to the head of the line. In words and actions I have communicated that this is an important thing for me and it will be a priority for me, that I am worthwhile and important enough to invest the finances and time needed to get the desired support.

  3. I pray others see my example and desire to be where I am. Admit it – when you walk by first class you envy those folks and wish you could sit there and be pampered as well…and then you take your lowly place in Coach…last row, window seat, next to the lavatory. Well I just promoted myself by taking charge and saying ‘this time it’s for me. This time I matter! This time I’m doing it for me.’

And that is exactly the attitude I will need. This is totally new to me. If you knew half the battle in the mind I have had to even get this far you would think the war was over! Yet I know I will struggle with things as I am basically asking us to focus on the one thing anorexics hate the most: food. How much of an oxymoron is that?! But I’m at that point. I can’t stay where I am and still move forward. I can’t live in denial or downplay my eating disorder any more. And I certainly can’t let it stay on stand by.

So I have no idea where this will lead. I just know right now I feel really good about myself for having gotten this far. It feels nice to be treated like a first class citizen. Self-care should be like that. Oh that I would get used to that feeling and take better care of myself. Today is a good first step in that direction.

Stand by for more thoughts from Jenn at and Leisa at

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