family

Good Morning.

 

“Good morning.”

I sit up, look out the window. It doesn’t look good outside. It’s been storming a lot lately.

I throw on some clothes.

I go to the bathroom, brush my teeth.

I go to the kitchen. Two eggs, a packet of grits and a piece of toast. That’s what I want.

Back to the bathroom. “Does this shirt make me look bigger than normal?”

I walk back into my room. Change clothes.

I come back out to the kitchen area. “Okay. One egg, a piece of toast, and orange juice. Sounds a little less heavy.”

This is the new desire of the morning.

While the egg is frying, I go back to the bathroom mirror. Turn sideways.

This multi-patterned legging makes me look stretched out. Too wide.

Back to my room for a third change.

I quickly go back to the kitchen, where my ideal meal awaits. Toast is done, egg is finished, all that’s left is the orange juice.

“There sure is a lot of sugar in that orange juice.” I think I’ll opt for water.

Water it is. This is what I want. An egg, a dry piece of toast and a glass of water.

I look outside again. The day looks less dreary now, the rain has ceased.

Actually, it was never storming.

The storm symbolizes how I feel some days when it comes to my relationship with food. The storm is the inner turmoil that takes place when I want the control; I crave it. If I don’t feel in control, then the day starts off full of sorrow and dampened with the pain of facing the day without a release. Food is my release. When I feel in control, it is as if the rain has stopped, the clouds have disappeared, and life can continue as normal.

I’m not going to lie. This blog post was thought about years before it was even written. For those who know me… who REALLY know me. I’m struggling. I’m struggling big time. I have been for a while now. I try to be discreet majority of the time, but I’m learning that sometimes, it’s okay to be open about what plagues you. So here goes:

        Most of you might have tried to get to know me recently. Or, I’ll even say over the past year or so. And I’ve shut you out. You didn’t hear from me, I didn’t respond to your message… when you ask how I am, I usually say “fine”, or I give you a look that you simply can’t interpret as good or bad. I think I’ve gotten good at this… being so secretive about my issues, that all people can do is stare and wonder about what’s going on in my life. What’s really going on.  I say none of this for attention, as these accounts are real, my story and my struggle is real, and the attention that comes with that is not on me. I wouldn’t wish this kind of “attention” on anyone.

        2010 started me down a wicked spiral of having an eating disorder. Several to be exact. I started out with full blown bulimia…. Imagine this type of disordered eating while trying to maintain a competitive mentality as well as physique for track and cross country. It was a gruesome year, as I was steadily falling apart and not understanding proper coping mechanisms after my father’s unemployment upsets took our house by storm, and tore up whatever pieces of trust and self-worth that I had. I was swept away in guilt, anger and revenge.

        Fast forward to college, where for the first two years, I was having the time of my life. I had all of the friends that I could possibly ever need, and I felt invincible with them at my side. I was out of the verbally abusive household and finally started to see some of the more pleasant moments in life. However, sadly, all good things must come to an end; emotions took control, and whirlwinds of chaos took precedent in a once glorious escape from reality and true  adulthood. I didn’t know what to do with this abrupt change, just as I hadn’t when my father turned our world upside-down. So I resorted to some of my own tactics… my own “coping” mechanisms to get the release that I so desperately craved after all of the emotional damage and stress.

        So fast forward to now. I am trying to rebuild what I once knew, and I’m learning how to truly love myself again. It is extremely hard… harder than one can ever imagine… I now primarily struggle with anorexia and over-exercising, and have been formally diagnosed with anxiety disorder. I suppose that many of you might have already figured some of this out. I know that everything comes to the light sooner or later, and so with that in mind, as well as the reasons for my openness, I chose to make known something that is so personal to me, something that needs deep prayer. And to let you know that I am actively fighting, though some days are harder than others. By no means does this mean that I am perfect, and trust me- I have a LONG way to go. Every single day is an absolute struggle. To wake up and not want to fully attack my body through overdoing it at the gym, while damaging my heart and my emotional well-being in the process. To not want to immediately go to the gym after a regular meal, or even to just not feel guilty about it.

What I need you to understand is this: Eating disorders are NOT just concerning looks, that doesn’t even begin to cover this debilitating illness. They concern how you wish to portray yourself in the face of others. You want to look perfect, to be perfect. It concerns having power- when every other aspect of your life is being controlled by someone else, or by circumstances that are out of your control, at least you have this. At least you have something that nobody can take away from you. This is yours. You can choose what goes into your body, when it does, and why. However, this eating disorder is not just yours. It’s your friends and family’s eating disorder as well. Your loved ones… It affects them just as much as it affects you. Because they don’t know how to help. They see you suffering, and they wish that they could take that pain away. They can’t. They can watch it tear you up limb by limb… they can listen, and hear you out as to why you do what you do… but they can’t “fix” you. They can’t strap you down, force you to eat, and stop you from going to the gym to purge in that way. They can tell you over and over again that it’s going to be okay, but will it? Will it actually, “all work out?”. And the answer that I’ve come up with is no. It will NOT just go away, the habits will NOT just cease. It takes effort. And prayer. More prayer. More action. More guidance. Trust me, I feel like I’ve done it all. I’ve taken it easy, not gone to the gym for a bit, then went regularly while maintaining an actual healthy diet. All of that helped for a while. I’ve gone to counseling on and off, and just felt like I already knew the facts that they had set before me. I have read hundreds of inspirational stories and have gained hope from them… and then shortly after, a “bad week” hits, and I am back to square one, all hope lost. Like I said, it’s never easy. This illness is one that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Nobody deserves this. It’s brutal. It shows no mercy and will consume every part of you. Some days, I am terrified to leave the house, because of social events that center around food, or because of some situation that will potentially cause me to re-route my gym plans. It would seem that the habits and mind-set that one has while struggling with are ingrained within them, chiseled bone-deep it would seem.

This disease truly captures the worst parts of life, mixes it all up and makes it hard to sort through what’s real, and what’s imaginary.  This illness is not imaginary, however; man, do I really wish it was. To say all of this is to say that I am human. My demons will cause me to falter like everyone else’s. The difference this time is that I choose to be transparent. I’m choosing to not accept defeat; to not intentionally let this illness get the best of me. Every day, I think that I am worse off than the day before, but then I realize that I still have a heartbeat. I am living. I have another chance by the grace of God to conquer this thing, and move on with life. Deep down, I know that I have not given up. And I won’t. I see myself now, and it’s scary. Body dysmorphia usually has me thinking that I am way bigger than I really am, which is ultimately not the case. I truly don’t see what everyone else sees. However, lately I have been able to truly see myself and my heart for what it really is; broken. My heart aches knowing that if this continues, the road to 100% recovery will be that much harder. So I’m asking whoever reads this to first of all, be in prayer for this twisted journey that I wish to get through in one piece. At the same time, I ask that you treat me no differently; I know that this will be the case; I wish for this to be common knowledge, but not a reason to be afraid to talk to me or invite me out to things on account of my struggles.

I also want you to know that no struggle is too big or small. Know that you are not alone, and that God truly meant it when He said that you cannot keep your burdens to yourself and carry them alone. I’m finally doing that, giving my burdens to my friends and family,  being honest with myself, as well as with others, and I encourage you to do the same. The church is the most populated hospital in the world. In some way, we are all broken. That truth will never change.  I hope that by sharing this, that first, it serves as accountability to myself, as I do plan to make full recovery, whatever that entails. And to also let you guys know that I am also here, praying for you, and 100% here if you need anything, or just need to chat. I love you guys, and will continue to pray for you, as I hope you will do with me.

The Story Unfolded: How I [really] found Jesus.

I was raised in the church. My father is a minister and preached at various churches all of my life. Of course living with a preacher as a father had its ups and downs, but I knew that he loved me and wanted the best. He made sure to equip me by making me remember many verses of the bible, full chapters even (I still have Psalm 51 ingrained in my head, 19 verses). I would go from banquet to banquet at age 6, 7 and 8, reciting these passages at various events my dad attended. I didn’t quite know why he was insisting on verse memorization so much, so for a long time, I held knowledge but did not see the reason to apply any it. Matter of fact, I wasn’t even sure where God actually fit into my life at all-I just knew that I believed in him because I was told to. I didn’t question it.

Fast forward to my last year in high school, the year 2013. I found an age appropriate bible study group through a friend (several friends) who  I ran track and cross country with, and grew to quickly love it as well as the people who attended. Within months, there started to be talk of  a mission trip coming up. I was determined to go, and so I started to sell items on Ebay in order to go on this trip. It was something new, something that I knew was “good” so to speak- but never would I guess the true impact it would cause on my life. Ever.

I reached my monetary goal and was able to go on this week-long mission trip to Tennessee. This trip consisted of being split into groups, with each group at a different site, where we either painted, rebuilt roofs, etc. Each afternoon following the work portion, there would be a service with music and a message. I was on a roof crew. We worked hard for 4 or 5 days straight and by the end of it, the roof was finished. We prayed with the owner of the house afterward and then it was time for celebration! Everyone decided to take a dip in the Tennessee River to cool off and just relax.

Something you should know right about now; I couldn’t swim. The most I had ever “swam” so to speak was in a kiddie pool or in water where I could touch the bottom. However, I considered this “swimming” and dared to try and navigate this river. I casually joked around with one of the leaders, Charlie, and said “If I start to drown, are you sure you’ll save me”? getting more and more confident that surely I would be fine (I swear I had the complex of being invincible back then…). He said that he would, and then stayed somewhat close to me as we headed over to the rock that people were jumping off of into the river. However, as we started to go, I realized that I could not touch the bottom of the river. I had just reached a bald spot, and I lost complete footing. I started to panic (Rule number one while almost drowning; DON’T panic. Whoops.). Not only that, but I started to go straight to the bottom, where I started ferociously kicking. I was able to get back up to the surface briefly, and Marcie, another leader who was still on the bank, started to see that I was truly in trouble. I mustered out “help” before I went back under (yeah; that “invincible” complex went away shortly after this episode). I heard Marcie jump in, and Charlie was quickly heading back in my direction as well. After what felt like forever, I was lifted out of the water with Marcie on one arm and Charlie on the other. I was alright. Physically, I was alright.

We got back to the church for the afternoon worship service, and I was badly shaken. When arriving to get seated, I had several hugs and a few “I’m glad you didn’t die” comments from some of my fellow mission trip friends. However, in the midst of all the halfhearted jest, one of the leaders there hugged me and asked “If you had died today, where would you have gone?”. Now, people, up until this point, I don’t think I took death too seriously. Until my lungs were flooded with water, and I had that brief fear that I was going to die, it was just a process that at some point, we would all experience. But the truth was, if  I would have died that day, I could have guessed where I would have gone.

To say all of this is to just emphasize how much that mission trip saved my life. Years and years of attending church means nothing if you don’t have true reason as to why you go. I realized that I was truly filthy and that I didn’t deserve to live, but that Jesus allowed me to. He had allowed me to take breath, but for a long time, I completely took it for granted. God sent his son that we may have ETERNAL life as well, for those who believe and follow him. I had never cried so much in my life before that day in service. Shameless, thankful tears cascaded down my face as I truly praised God, thanking him for giving me another chance. For sending his son to die for us, promising us the joy of getting to live with Him forever.

     It won’t always be a near-death experience that wakes you up, but in my case it was, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Reality hits as soon as we realize that we deserve nothing; not this life or the next; but God loves us so much that He was willing to give his children all that they could not possibly deserve. So there is my testimony. Thanks for reading!