Alrighty, I'm gonna go ahead and apologize in advance for getting so heavy on a Friday.
Apology accepted? I hope so.
Here we go.
I saw this picture on Instagram earlier this week.
I had no idea that it was National Eating Disorder Awareness week, but I did know that this picture hit me. It hit me hard.
I knew that I couldn't go the entire week without mentioning this on the blog.
After all, a blog is for sharing your heart, right? What would the point of it be if I didn't share my whole heart? Even the scars and baggage that come along with it.
And the beautiful thing about Jesus is He takes away my shame. He takes it so that I can share my story, all of it. In hopes that it will help others. You see, everything has purpose with Jesus. Every mistake, every misstep, every misfortune, they can all have purpose when you surrender them.
My freshman year of high school was a whirlwind. So. Much. Happened.
I got my first boyfriend. And lost my first boyfriend. Seems so insignificant when I look back on it, but that first heartbreak? Man, it was rough.
My house burned down. While I was home alone.
So my Mom and Dad packed up our family of four with whatever belongings we had left, and to our temporary home we went. We quickly discovered that we would not be returning to our rebuilt house as a family of four, nope.
We were adding one more to the mix.
And trust me, with my mom's pregnancy, there was a lot of joy. I can vividly remember when she told me she was pregnant. Better me than you, she said.
I can remember when we found out the baby was healthy, no chromosomal issues.
And I will always remember when we found out that it was a girl. That I was going to get the baby sister I always dreamed of. (Don't worry Mike, you're pretty cool too.)
But in spite of the joy, I don't think my 14 year old brain could wrap my mind around how much stress my family was experiencing. We had two large puppies under one year that barely had a yard in our temporary home. My brother was in 4th grade, and I was in 9th. And my parents were scrambling to keep us on track, rebuild our home and manage all of the financial effects from our house fire.
Oh, and Mom was pregnant.
I will forever be in awe at how my parents walked through that season of our lives. At how they handled so. much. stress.
(To Mom and Dad: thank you.)
It was during this year that I first developed my eating disorder. For the first of many times, I began struggling with bulimia.
I really hate that word. For some reason, it's easy to say that I struggled with an eating disorder. It's a lot harder to say that I struggled with bulimia.
But you know what? That's my shame talking. And we already covered that Jesus removed that. We already covered that I am free to be real, and honest, thanks to my Savior. So that's exactly what I'm going to do.
I have battled with bulimia off and on since that year. As I got older, I began learning more about my struggle. I began noticing how stress-triggered it was. There was a cycle: change led to stress. Stress led to binge eating. Binge eating led to, well, you get the point.
I noticed how unhealthy my relationship with food became. And if I'm being honest, that's still a constant battle. It was so hard to admit to myself that I had lost my self control. But that's exactly what happened. I forgot that food was meant to nourish my body. Or rather, I forgot what that looked like. I only knew what it looked like to turn to food for comfort, and then to punish myself for that.
It has been 9 years since I developed my eating disorder. In that time, I have met so many people who share my struggle. At first, it would seem like a bonding moment. "You struggled with that too? Wow, we have so much in common!"
But as woman after woman would confide in me her history with disordered eating, my eyes were opened. I realized the gravity of the problem that our culture has.
I am happy to say that I am on my road to recovery. But if I'm being honest, I think this will be a long road. There is so much more to my bulimia than I initially realized. No, I don't purge anymore (another word that I hate). But yes, I still struggle with my relationship with food.
When I get stressed out, or feel anxious, I will physically feel those feelings in the pit of my stomach. My natural reaction is to want to get rid of those feelings. To throw them up. And finally realizing that has helped me break the cycle that I was so lost in for so many years.
The good news is, my story has a happy ending. Jesus has helped me to love the body that He blessed me with.
But to be honest, it took more than learning to love my body to get out of my cycle. It took realizing that I was turning to food for comfort, when there is only one thing in this world that can fit that role.
And His name is Jesus.
This is my story, and thanks to my Hero, it has a happy ending.