rest

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.

Honesty and Trauma: The acceptance that we’re broken

Sometimes we do things that we don’t want to do for the sake of our lives in the long run. We make decisions that are ultimately for us, and nobody else, and then on top of it all, we have to trust that the decision that we made was the right one. Sometimes we have to face the actual facts of a matter, understanding that eventually, reality of the situation will take its foothold whether we want it to or not, and either you choose to see how things really are now, or see the trauma of it all at a later, more inconvenient point. Sometimes the force of that harsh reality will sting worse than you ever thought it would, knocking you off of your feet and placing you in a choke-hold of which you do not think you can ever escape. Sometimes that pain can bring the ultimately joy that you’ve been waiting to find all of your life- rediscovering God and the life that he had for you all along.

It’s easy to put on a mask. Pretending like your world is nothing but perfect and striving to have everyone convinced that you have it together. It will get old and if it hasn’t yet, I promise you, something will change and you will not have the ability to hold it in anymore. What will change is your desire to be seen as “perfect”. Your desire to please everyone and accommodate their needs before taking care of yourself will fade- will you fade with it? How are you truly supposed to help anyone else in their journey if you can’t face the reality that you do have rough seasons and are not flawless? In many circumstances, it is not selfish to tend to yourself but actually vital for your survival. Are you clear that as a result of trials and life as a whole, you will inevitably change? Who said that this change was a bad thing, to steer clear of and avoid? What effectiveness do we have as Christians to convey that though things are rough, they will get better if we refuse to be vulnerable, accepting that we are not perfect and that our lives will look different from what we might have thought it would look like? We have no effectiveness if we can’t be honest with ourselves or with God that we have problems that must be worked out and resolved. And that our minds and our thought processes will be altered with it. We must truly be transformed of our pride and our vain qualities- easier said than done, I get it. But let’s not use that as an excuse anymore.

I challenge everyone to accept and see their circumstances for what they are. To understand that the cliché “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” is simply not true; we struggle daily, our walks with God were never supposed to be perfect. We were never meant to be perfect. And we weren’t meant to stay spiritually or mentally stagnant. Take that thought and run with it. Be prepared to grow; to open your mind to the plethora of change once you accept that there is broken glass that must be mended in everyone’s lives; that you aren’t alone. And that your unique circumstance is just that: something that is not permanent but that is subject to change. You just have to let that transformation and that change in. Let God in.

I won’t apologize.

I can’t apologize. To apologize would mean that I am not human; that I don’t need time. Time to breathe, time to think, time to just sit and listen to words that match my story lyric by lyric. I need that time.

I won’t apologize. I do not feel the urge. I do not feel the necessity. Everyone has their season and this is mine. I am not sorry. I am not supposed to be. If I apologize, it means that I have done something wrong. All I have done is exercise my right to be alone. To be free from the obligations of society; from having to put on the front that my life is put together when it feels like parts of my life have been placed in a bottle and dropped off into the sea, never to be found again for a thousand years. Let me find those pieces, without the distractions. I wish to be made whole again.

Apology means regret. I do not regret my decision to step back. It was imperative that I did so.  The prompt realization of what drives me-to my worst AND to my best…needed to be apprehended and stopped in its tracks. The crime of deceit in the face of my friends… my family… was starting to become too much. Was it selfish to retreat? Maybe. But don’t we all have that selfish complex? Regardless of how it is presented, we are selfish in some fashion, whether that is by taking the time of a friend in order to be reconciled by them, by our family, knowing that they’ll always be there to console you in your worst moments and so forth. My selfishness lies in the desperation for me to be at peace within myself while out of the face of the public; the year was not the best it could have been nor should have been. Some of this was of my own doing and some of it was not, which ultimately forced me to face unwanted circumstances. Circumstances that tore me up, inside and out, and forced me to wake up and regroup. So to regret doing what was best for me would be in fact lunatic, and a hypocrisy for anyone else to get upset about. We all have our ways of handling our situations. This is how I chose to do it.

Dear Social Butterfly: Take a Break.

Always wanting to surround yourself with people during the stressful times is not always a bad thing. However, I am about to explain why I decided to take it down a notch- when temporarily closing off could be a bad thing, and why I’m okay with easing up on the amount of time I spend out and about sometimes. It’s alright to want a break, even as Christians in ministry.

Over the course of a year and a half, a lot has happened in my life that I would have never expected. With that came a lot of emotional damage as well as needed time to take a breath and just… reflect. Now, mind you, I said “reflect”… not “dwell”. Don’t get me wrong, being around friends in your times of distress is a good way to talk things about and maybe hear things from a different perspective. It’s encouraged to find someone you trust (someone who is also biblically grounded if possible) to help you. However, I’ve found that personally, in my anger or frustrations of a certain event, some of my unprocessed thoughts turned more into gossip, which certainly isn’t okay. I would immediately turn to my friends, completely making an inaccurate assessment of the situation, and not always turning to scripture first- unless of course, the scripture fit in my favor for that particular event, and simply put… that’s just not how things are supposed to work, and that’s not how God intended scripture to be used. It is is used for His glorification alone and not our own.

During times of utmost despair, take a deep breath. Pray. Do not stop praying. and truly reflect. See things from the other perspective (especially God’s perspective), and don’t be quick to assume. Give yourself a few hours or a few days to process something big, and I promise you that your decisions following that time will be a lot better.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

The past few months have been hectic. I have a big load on any given day, and 7 pm starts my “free-time” so to speak. So on certain days, I am sure to try and reserve some time for me. I don’t look at this as a selfish act; if I am burned out, how am I supposed to be effective with others? Also, I have gotten back into reading for leisure and I thoroughly enjoy it, as well as other hobbies (like coloring and painting!).

Now, when is taking time for yourself a bad thing? I have to be careful in my times of highest stress, because here’s a fact about me; I have TERRIBLE anxiety. I can’t even begin to fathom all of the things I excessively worry and think about- sometimes it’s insane. Don’t take the time you set aside to dwell on bad parts of your life as I mentioned earlier, because not only is this physically unhealthy and makes you more on edge, but we are clearly told to not let it consume our lives.

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25.

     Go find that kind word. In this case, also go out and find some accountability and encouragement. I still have to remind myself to do this. It is all too easy to want to permanently retreat. But remember that the rough patch is only a season and that you are not alone. People can relate to how you’re feeling in some fashion, even when you feel like an island.

My point is this: Don’t use people as a crutch to get out of touch with yourself. Don’t be around people all the time for the sake of hoping that problems will disappear, only to later discover that your personal issues have tripled in size. Don’t gossip. Don’t be around people while also feeling like you are suffocating at the same time. Take the break. Do yourself the favor and every once in a while, reserve time for only you. But don’t abuse that time. Keep the anxiety to a minimum and remember that you are not alone in your struggle, and that your rough season will end.  Anyways, that’s all for now, folks!