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.