Friday, March 1, 2013

Heavy for a Friday

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.


Julie said...

Amy thank you SO much for being so brave to share this! I struggled with some form of anorexia when I was a sophomore and had a very distorted body image. Looking back at the food (or lack of) I ate and the way my body looked... it was so wrong and I cringe thinking about it. But you're right, that shame can all be gone and we can be on our way to healing! I still struggle a lot with my relationship with food and weight but it's nowhere where it used to be. Like you, I still get those feelings back, like, "well I should really eat less today" or something like that. I hate that women today have such a horrible body image problem, and I was definitely a part of it! All we can do is put our trust in Jesus and pray He heals us and women everywhere who struggle with this too. If you ever need to talk about any of this I'm here for ya girl :)

Tamara @ Everything Happens said...

Wow, Amy! You are so incredibly brave to share your amazing story. I definitely admire your strength!

Mosby Hardin said...

Thanks so much for posting this girl! While I myself have not struggled with an eating disorder I have had friends who have. Coming from that perspective it is so hard to just sit by and not know how to help. But your absolutely right that turning to Jesus is the answer!

katie_shannon said...

Thank you so much for sharing your struggle - it's part of your story that needs to be shared!

Heather Burris said...

So glad your story has a happy ending :)

Melissa Jo said...

I think a lot more women in America struggle with food than we really think. Our vision of "beauty" is so warped. Food is something we can individually control when everything else in the world we can't control. I have had a difficult relationship with food throughout the years. Eating too much, eating too less - even making myself ill just thinking too much about. Lately, I've been having "meat" adversions and have been avoidant of it all together. Which is strange for me. Never really had issues with it. It's a battle that a lot of people fight especially if your trying to aware of nutrition. So glad to hear that your relationship with food has gotten better over the years!

Kiki said...

Oh girl, your ability to share your story so bravely and boldly is so inspiring to me! Growing up, I turned to food for comfort and just ate whenever I couldn't express myself otherwise (and thus gained a lot of weight). And it wasn't until college that I developed a strong and real relationship with Him and then lost a lot of weight in the process. So our stories are sorta similar (yet uniquely different!). I am so glad Jesus came to the rescue for the two of us!

Thank you for sharing what's on your heart! And never apologize for heartfelt posts. They're some of my fave to read. :)

Jordan said...

I had issues with anorexia in 7th and 8th grade. I was able to snap out of it my freshman year but it was something I had to work on throughout high school. It completely warped my outlook on my body and what I though it was supposed to look like. I've learned that food wasn't the enemy, my insecurity was. I'm so happy you were able to hop on the recovery road and I pray that you never relapse. You are so beautiful inside and out just as you are!

BELL HERE said...

proud of you!

Leah said...

no need to apologize sweet friend, that's what this space is for: encouragement and support. you are so brave for speaking your story, but so glad you did. i'm happy to see you have given it to Jesus and that you haven't had a relapse with purging. i know it not only can affect your physical health but also leave many scars. you are so beautiful inside and out even though i just 'met' you i can see your passion for the Lord and that makes you so, so beautiful the way you are!

Amy Rachel said...

Amy, thank you oh so much for posting this dear! It shows how much stronger you have become now and that is truly amazing! :) I am proud of you for that. I for one, have never dealt with such a horrible disorder, but to be honest I realized that I was too looking for comfort in just eating, and that's wrong. I just ended a two month fast today of food by not eating breakfast, and I accomplished it! But this fast has also taught me that I can't find comfort in just overeating, because I would soon regret it. I am glad this blog caught my attention. As Women, we should love our body the way God created them, regardless of how we feel. In God's eyes we are unique,amen! Well, thanks again for sharing dear, and may you have a Wonderful blessed weekend!

Tabitha Carnes said...

I just love you so much.

Emily said...

It was so incredibly brave of you to share that <3 I'm so sorry you had to struggle through it ... but look what a wonderful inspiration it is now. God makes the most beautiful stories out of the roughest beginnings. Praying for you!

Kate Sparkles said...

Ohy goodness, you really were blessed with amazing parents to get you through a year like that- I love your Mom's 'better me than you' stance, she sounds incredible.
From half way across the world, I'm goin to add myself to your list of ladies who say 'me too'. I've had ongoing issues with the binge-burge routine c excessive exercise, restricting or the chew but spit don't swallow 'trick'. It's wreaked havoc with my insides and I've been told there is almost no enamel left on my teeth.. It's scary. As you know I've got a host of other mental health problems but my relationship with food frightens me more than any of them.. When did we stop saying 'I hungry, I'll eat a nutritious meal and when I full and nourished, I'll stop' ?
I cry about food, I keep detailed lists of exactly what goes intoy mouth, gaining a kilo ( about 2 poinds) is enough to kick start an anxiety attack to the point I can't breathe. It breaks my heart that I am not alone in this struggle, that here are SO MANY of us out there.

Melissa said...

I have 2 friends who both struggled with anorexia/bulimia several years ago, and have been posting about eating disorder awareness this week. I am SO PROUD of them b/c i remember when they thought they didn't have a problem & that their loved ones were just paranoid. Both of these women are BEAUTIFUL, like you are. :) I'm SO GLAD you found healing & freedom in Jesus!! He is awesome! :)

Kenzie @ Life According to Kenz said...

Your honesty and transparency is inspiring. I just connected with you through Twitter and I am blown away... You have a true testimony!

On my 10th birthday, my family's home burnt down. I can definitely say that I know the pain and distress such a tragedy can cause! Here to chat if your ever want to...

So very excited to see how God uses you in my life! You are incredible!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

This post brought tears to me eyes, because its so strong of you to share something like that. But Jesus changed your life and its such a blessing! Through every struggle, a blessing comes out of it. Its something so good to feel, love from Jesus, He takes every stress away, we struggle, in the end we put our full trust into Jesus!

Janna Renee said...

This is incredible, poignant, and has probably touched more people than you know. I am so proud that you opened up, and I know that this will help your growth. You are beautiful, strong, and you will rise above <3 {{HUGS}}

Rach @ This Italian Family said...

It's sad how stress is such a huge trigger for eating disorders. There were a myriad of reasons that I was anorexic, but a series of stressful events definitely seem to be what ended up triggering the disorder to begin. I'm so thankful that you have found healing in Jesus. Thanks for sharing your story, friend!

Annie said...

oh, Amy. freshman year was a heavy year for you! i'm so glad you can claim victory over bulimia in Christ's name. He made you beautiful!

Kailee said...

Amy, first off, thanks so much for your comment on my blog post! And second, thank you for writing this. You are amazing for recovering and for sharing it! It's so hard to do it and it definitely was hard for me too, you have no idea haha. And how totally crazy that we posted our stories so close together. I posted mine in honor of NEDA week too. We should be blog friends! Haha I'm a new follower :)

The Cavallaro's said...

You are seriously such an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your struggles!