Sunday, February 20, 2011

releasing the shame

I have been through some interesting times in my 23 years. But then again, haven't we all? A lot of what I have been through, though, I have been ashamed of. I've kept it locked away, scared that if I think about it, it might all come back to haunt me again for some reason. Lately, I've been realizing this isn't the case. And that holding things inside not only prevents me from really moving on and healing, but I also don't think God wants us to keep our past locked away, like it was some bad dream we are trying to forget. I believe that we need to recognize our past, so we can really learn from it and move on to more of what God wants from us. I also believe that I am finally in a good place and far enough away from my dark place that I once was, so that I can be honest about it. Let it go, but in doing that, also be honest for others. I see other people who are where I once was, and I just want to hold them, tell them it will be okay, that they can change. I don't want to be ashamed of the girl I once was, but be grateful for the new life I have now.

In the year 20--, I developed an eating disorder. Honestly, there were many years of disordered eating and thoughts that led up to this year, many years of self-loathing. It was in this year, though, that I let everything go. I just didn't care about my life anymore. I gave in and did everything for my eating disorder, even if it would cost me everything. This went on for years. Calorie counting, obsessions, hurting myself, over-exercising, purging. It was the absence of everything good in my life. My life was consumed with my eating disorder and making "it" happy. I lost relationships during this time, ER visits, fainting spells, and life was dark. I kept thinking , once I get to "x" weight, I will stop and my life will get better. Then of course I would get there and it wouldn't. I had such a feeling of helplessness. I was sick of living with daily secrets, but there came a point when I just didn't know how to live any differently.

Eventually, I went to a rehab treatment center, Rogers Memorial Hospital. This place got me out of the cycle, nourished me physically and in many other ways, and gave me a support system that just started the process of healing for me in my life. It gave me hope and the motivation to fight. Although, I knew the fight in all actuality had just begun at that point. When I was released from Rogers 2 months later, I knew my life was going to be different, but that I had a long way to go, and a lot of things to work on. There were years leading up to and living with my eating disorder, and 2 months in a rehab center was just the beginning of the journey to freedom for me.

Now... now, I am in a very different place in my life. I know I cannot say that I am at the end of my journey, as I don't think I can ever truly say that. I always will have more to learn and grow. But I am finally in a good place in my life. I feel like I have slowly crawled out of the darkness, and have finally allowed myself to bask in the glorious sunlight.

I realized throughout my journey that self-love is an essential component to leading a happy and healthy life. I used to always dwell on selfless love, and that I should always only ever be thinking about others. I loved that concept, because it was easy for me to ignore myself in it. Now I see that my views were skewed. Selfless love is an awesome, important thing. Thinking about Christ and his love for others is what I want to emmulate. But self-love is also completely vital to life, and this is something that I have only begun to understand after much healing in my life. Without self-love, I cannot fully love others. Without loving myself first, I am encapable of truly being there for others and loving them back. Without self-love, I cannot give what Jesus wants from me. Without self-love, I am back to the insecure, not confident, eating disordered mind. I cannot be the creative, silly, loving, confident person that God created me to be.

I remember my first day at Rogers. My parents had just drove me to Wisconsin. I was sobbing with my parents, pleading for them to take me home, promising them that I would get better. They, thank God, didn't believe me. I could not believe that they would leave me at this God-forsaken place, with nurses poking and proding me, and was not even given a timeline when I could even think about coming home. I needed to work on me, not school, not how to be there for others, only me, and I just didn't know how to do it. I had gone so many years of torturing my body, how was I going to give it up? My eating disorder was screaming at me that I was nothing without it. I think Rogers was the place where I finally just asked myself, "when are you going to finally just live your life?" Because let me tell you, cycling between anorexia and bulimia is not living... only a living hell. I think I finally was waking up to the fact that if I didn't change my life now, when would I? And would it be too late? Now I see this time as the greatest blessing of my life. For it was at Rogers when I finally began to see the meaning of self-love, along with the love of amazing staff, doctors, nurses, therapists, and all the girls who were there with me who became my support circle. But it wasn't until even a greater time after this, that I finally was able to fully understand self-love. Now I don't obsess over my body. I am learning to LOVE it and everything it can do. Our bodies really are amazing things. My cells keep reproducing, when I cut my finger it heals within a couple days, I am able to taste wonderful delicious foods and I am not scared of how many calories they contain, and by golly, I have the ability to make a baby someday! Our bodies can give us a great source of pleasure, and I want to enjoy mine, be thankful for mine. I can run and move and dance and sing. Or I can just sit on the couch and eat chocolate and be okay with that. I am going to love me... all of me. My hips, my curves, my soul, my spirit. It all comes together to make up me, and I am going to love it well and treat it good.

So... please remember to love yourself first and foremost. Be kind to yourself. Lately I've been happier than I've ever been. And not because my life is just wonderful and easy, but because I am chosing to live in the light and love who I am. With all my quirks and faults. I am surrounded by such amazing friends and family, and even though times in my life are tough, and every once in awhile, I have seriously sucky days, I can move on and let it go. I have hope for a future, and I see my life as precious. I am God's own beautiful, unique creation, whom He loves greatly. And just because of that, I have infinite value. I don't see that as being vain, because I surely know all my many faults and ugliness. But this love just makes me want to give up all my insecurities, live freely, and love myself the way God loves me. I'm still on this journey and probably always will be, but it sure feels wonderful to be headed towards the light.

Well that's just some of my story. I don't feel the need to spill it all;) But I hope my story can also help others on their journey as well.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

decisions and anticipation

It's my last night at home before I leave for college. And not only leave for college, but leave for college for the last time in my life, after a significant period of time away from it. Tomorrow morning I head back to the city that I first moved to 5 years ago, my first time away from home as an 18 year old, not knowing at all what to expect. A city that I have truly grown up in, became independent in, explored, and formed a life of my own in. A city that's seen me through many difficult times, but also times of great growth and newness in my life. And now I realize that this will be the last time I will be heading back to this city after my Christmas break and joining this old familiar place and familiar faces.

I have so many different feelings of moving to this city again. It's strange when you've spent the last 4 months living in a different country, to all the sudden try and go back to this city where you feel like a different person than the last time you were there. When all the while, not having a clue what life is going to be like after this last semester of college. After graduation. It's scary not knowing where your life is headed. I've been a student for so long now, it's strange knowing that I won't be in classes next year. And honestly, if I thought I was, I'd probably be going insane right about now. But it's just a scary feeling not knowing where God is leading you. And trusting that he actually is leading you and he has a plan. Honestly, I am so ready to move on. I am ready for the next stage in my life. I just wish I knew what that was. I wish I had a plan.

Lately I've had to make some big decisions in my life. Decisions that concern my future and what I will be doing after college. Adult decisions. I feel at peace about the decisions I've made, yet there is still so much unknown. I can only wait now. Pray and wait. I don't even know where I will be living, much less anything else about my life after these last 4 months of my college career.
I began to get scared about the unknown. The what's next. I want to plan where I will be and know that I will be okay. Where the hell is life going to take me next?

But maybe this whole not knowing thing should be fun. Part of the journey. Maybe there's a whole new adventure for my life, that is bigger than anything I could have ever planned out for myself. Maybe I just need to trust. I said I didn't want my life to become comfortable. Well I have 4 more months to lead that relatively comfortable life of knowing what I am doing, and then the uncomfortableness will be there knocking. But maybe that is what I really need in life.

I don't want to miss out on life and the here and the now because I am too busy worried about the future. I don't want to miss what God is doing in my life today because I am worried about tomorrow.
I want to live my life with hope and great anticipation! To dwell in the fact that He has good things planned for me because He is good. To get lost in every day little things. To not dwell on my fears but put them to rest in my Father's hands. To know that his plan is greater and bigger than anything that we could ever imagine or dream for ourselves. I want to enjoy wearing my yellow pants (my happy pants if you will) and write and dream. I want to cherish these young free years of mine where I have so much time to live adventures, and explore the world, explore God's huge beautiful creation. Meet people, oh how I love meeting and learning about new people. Ahh... life is too short to worry, and why should we, when we have a God who is so big? He does have a plan for me, and he has one for you too.
So I'm going to spend the rest of this semester in this old city friend of mine, and keep living. Keep hoping. And I don't know if I will still be in this city after these next 4 months, or if I won't even be in this country. But I am going to live with wild anticipation and enjoy the here and now. And I hope you'll join me and smell the flowers along the way too.