Enough’s Enough

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Sometimes, you’ve got to take a good, hard look in the mirror and say, “Enough’s enough.” And friends, that is a very frank and very difficult conversation to have with yourself. In just two little words. For in that small-but-powerful statement…shit.gets.real. A … Continue reading

You’re Worth It

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It took me a long time to press “publish” on this post. Why? I was afraid. Not afraid, in that, I was revealing a particularly personal topic, or afraid to show my heart. Lord knows I’ve done enough of that … Continue reading

Battling the Mirror

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One of the biggest misconceptions about anorexia and eating disorders, is that the girls (or boys) are incredibly vain. That they’re stuck on themselves, obsessed with their looks, and fatally preoccupied with beauty. That could not be farther from the truth. … Continue reading

Nothing is Ever Wasted

Nothing is ever wasted.

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No pain is ever for nothing.

If you’re going through something — a hard time, a trial, a struggle, a loss — it’s never in vain.

What you’re going through matters.

Maybe you’re fighting through your recovery and every day is harder than the one before. Maybe you’re on the verge of relapsing. Maybe you’re going through a divorce, or are the child of parents who are in the process of separating. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, or your best friend betrayed you. Maybe you’ve been battling depression, or alcoholism, or substance abuse, or another type of addiction. Maybe you’re being bullied at school. Maybe you’re just worn down to the soul, exhausted from trying to keep a certain “image” up in the air.

Whatever it is, your pain is real. And it is not in vain.

There is something that you are supposed to learn from what you’re going through. Something that you cannot learn any other way.

And reading that, in the midst of the storm, it may make you want to curse or throw something — What the hell am I supposed to learn from going through this? Are you kidding me?

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What you are enduring is changing you. It is making you grow. It is equipping you for something that you will do later in life. Something that you cannot even fathom at this point and time. But it is.

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And even though you may feel alone, you’re not. Because whether you believe it or not, you are being given the strength and the grace to get through this. One day at a time.

God is going through it with you. By your side.

That’s really hard to believe. And if we’re really honest, we probably feel pretty abandoned in actuality. After all, He’s supposed to love me, so why the hell would He put me through this?

The truth of the matter is that He’s not putting you through anything. He’s enduring it with you. Because He loves you. He loves you enough to allow you to go through something that will be good for you in the end.

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Hollow words, I know. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there.

I want to share a story with you. And I know, it may seem like a cliche topic, but I think you know by now that I’m not here to bullshit anyone, and I’m definitely not here to waste your time.

It’s the story of an Emperor Moth.

They go through the same cocoon process as a butterfly, except these moths stay in their cocoon for anywhere from 1-5 years. And their cocoon is different than a butterfly’s. When it’s time to emerge, they have to squeeze their body and their wings through a tiny opening at the base of the cocoon.

The story is this: a little boy was watching an emperor moth struggling to get out of its cocoon. He wanted to help, so he cut the tiny opening of the cocoon larger. The moth emerged easily, but his wings were dwarfed and too small for his enlarged body. He failed to thrive and died two days later.

You see, in order to survive, the moth has to struggle to emerge through that tiny opening in the cocoon. Because in wrestling his way through, his wings are growing and getting stronger — strong enough to support his body. And in squeezing through that tiny opening, the extra fluid from his abdomen gets pushed to the wings, and his body becomes the proper size, in proportion for his wings.

He needed the struggle to become whole and complete. 

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If God were to clip your cocoon and spare you the struggle, He’d actually be doing more harm than good. For this struggle is making you stronger — making you able to thrive.

One day down the road, the clouds will have lifted, and you’ll see your story has come full circle. And you will understand why you’re suffering and struggling right now.

The pain will end.

Things will get better.

If you’re looking Up, and wondering where God is in the midst of your pain, look to your side, because He’s right there next to you, encouraging you as you strengthen your wings.

Goodnight loves.

xx

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Bikinis & Body Dysmorphia

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If you follow my Instagram, @beauty.beyond.bones, then you know that I was filming an indie film the other weekend.

And here’s what you may not know: it was shot at the beach.

And I was in a bikini the whole time.

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Now, before you instantly get the wrong idea, NO — this was not some trashy, R-rated film. It was an innocent film – PG – It was just set at the beach.

So naturally, my wardrobe was a bikini.

Now, this may not seem like a huge deal to you — I mean, it’s summertime. You hang out at the pool. I mean, just go to the community swim club and you’ll see 6 to 10 women in bikinis. Big whoop.

Well, for someone in recovery from anorexia, this was a huge deal.

Body dysmorphia aside, the fact that I was able to wear a bikini really revealed a lot about where I am in my recovery.

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And it’s not what you may think.

When I was in the trenches of my disease, I would have never for one second even thought about showing my body in a bikini out of sheer shame. Not to mention that I was always freezing, so even at the beach, I was in layers.

So the fact that I wore a bikini in public — and on camera no less — is a huge victory.

But the biggest thing that it helped me to realize, is that I’m finally starting to come to peace with my body.

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Before the shoot, I will admit, I was pretty dang terrified of the thought of being on camera in a bikini. I got a spray tan. I did my nails. I shopped for the perfect bikini that would mask the fact that I don’t have much “going on” up top, nor much “junk in the trunk.” Hell, I was even seriously considering wearing “chicken cutlets” to fill me out a little bit. I mean, I was pretty unnerved and trying everything to alleviate my anxiety.

And as I was trying on my 16th bathing suit in the Macy’s dressing room, I was all of a sudden overcome with an overwhelming sense of clarity.

I realized that none of this matters.

This is my body.

I can pull this and push that and squeeze myself into a sucker-innerbut at the end of the day, this is what I’ve been given.

Take it or leave it.

My body is my body. And it is beautiful. Just the way it is. Because it is a handmade gift.

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In that moment in the dressing room, I realized that, sure, it might be a little nerve wracking to get recorded on film in clothing that contains less fabric than an american flag, but that’s not where my beauty comes from. It comes from my Maker. Living in me.

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We, as a society, have such a skewed sense of beauty, thanks to our hyper photo-shopped media and advertisements. We’re so appearance focused. You need proof? Just take a look at all the filter options on Instagram. And yes, I am super guilty of this too. But the fact of the matter is that not even Gisele looks like Gisele in real life. So we need to give ourselves some grace.

But there was one other thing that I took away from this bikini experience.

I’m gonna be honest. Throughout the entire “preparation process” I was so worried about looking large. I was focusing on those one or two “areas” of my body that I hate and wish I could change. I know you know what I’m talking about. We all have them.

But a comment by my director shed some light on something for me that really hit home. I was out to dinner with him and the cast a few nights before we started filming at this super nice restaurant in midtown, and he told me to order a steak to “put some meat on my bones.” I mean it was a light hearted joke, and he’s not a jerk in any way, shape, or form. But it really hit home.

My body dysmorphia was influencing the way I was prepping for this shoot. It was sending my head all over the place. I was afraid of looking “large,” when the fact is, I should be worried about looking the opposite.

Body dysmorphia is a tricky thing.

Everyone has seen the image of a skeletal girl looking into a mirror and seeing a heavier version of herself in the reflection.

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It’s hard for someone without an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, to actually believe that this is a real thing.

“Come on, it’s a cry for attention.” “They’re just fishing for compliments.” “Drama queen.”

Wrong.

Body dysmorphia is when you imagine and believe that your body appears differently than it actually is. And it is something that is very, very real for suffers of eating disorders, particularly anorexia. And after that dinner, I realized, I’m not as far along in silencing those dysmorphic thoughts than I thought.

And as I sit here and realize that I’ve written an entire post about myself in a bikini, it reminds me of another fact about Body Dysmorphia: Yes, it seems self-absorbed, petty, and narcissistic. But it’s the reality of what an eating disorder does to your self perception.

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ED is the master of lies, and this is just another way he uses to control your mind. So I’ve learned to silence that voice. But just like every day I have to choose recovery, everyday I have to choose to listen to my sound mind – listen to Jesus – and silence ED.

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Body dysmorphia does get better with time and eventually dissipates. But you have to realize, that after being used to seeing your body at such a depleted, skeletal state, your “normal” body does look drastically different and takes a long time to get used to.

In closing, yes, it was a victory that I was able to wear a bikini on camera without feeling shame.

But the fact that I still was worried about being “large” reveals the dysmorphic thoughts I still am battling.

Recovery is a journey. Overcoming body dysmorphia is part of the process. I have come a long way, but there’s still more to go, and every day, God is working more and more on my heart.

Total restoration is possible. Body, Spirit, and Mind. Some areas just take a little more patience and a little more grace than others.

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Now What?

Don’t you wish that life had an instructions manual sometimes?

I mean, sheesh. Wouldn’t that be incredible.

Or a trouble-shooters guide.

Yeah. Definitely would be amazing.

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But I’ve received some questions about something that is quite the doosey.

Wait for it….

What do you do after you accept Jesus into your heart?

Yeahhh, and I thought tonight was just going to be a “light” blog post.

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First of all, I want to start off by saying that I, truthfully, don’t feel quite qualified to be speaking on such an important topic. Mainly because, a) I’m still figuring it out on my own journey, and b) I’m just a broken vessel myself.

But I’m just going to write, because that’s kinda what I do, and I just let the HS speak through the keys. So here goes:

Number 1) It is a relationship.

Think about your friends. What do those relationships look like? You hang out. Make time for each other. Talk about stuff. You share your clothes or accessories, maybe. Long story short: you have to put in time if you want to grow your relationship.

Same after you accept Jesus into your heart. You’ve gotta grow the relationship.

Okay, yeah but how do I do that? I’ve never prayed a day in my life, and frankly it just seems weird talking to the sky.

Right. Here’s what I do. I keep a journal. And I just write out all of my feelings, all of my fears, all of my hopes, anxieties, joys, things I’m thankful for — as though I were talking to my best friend. And then, at the end, I put “Dear God” at the top. And then I just sit. In quiet. It’s not like I’m waiting for the sky to open up, or for me to get struck by a bolt of Heavenly lightening, but I just sit quietly. It’s amazing how overcome with peace I can be.

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Spending time with Jesus can also be done in little things. Like choosing to listen to Christian Pandora when I’m working out. Or if there’s a Christian Podcast available to listen to while I’m cooking. Believe me, I love Top 40s as much as the next shmuck, but sometimes you’ve just gotta make the conscious decision to give some time to The relationship.

And you know what? The more you do, the easier it gets. Easier may not be the right word. The more I choose to spend time with Him, the more I want to. It becomes like second nature. And that feeling of genuine peace and joy I feel as a result becomes almost addictive.

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So there’s that.

Alright. Trying to keep this short and sweet. Back to the question: What do you do?

Number 2) Redeemed vs. Restored

This is a biggie. And touches on something that can be confusing and discouraging.

When you accept Jesus, you are redeemed.

Redeemed: we hear it all the time in Church, – Jesus, our Redeemer, we have redemption, we’ve been redeemed — 

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Okay, okay. But what does it actually mean?

Tell me, Webster:

Redeem: To buy back. To release from blame or debt. To free from captivity by payment of ransom.

To free from captivity by payment of ransom.

Captivity. Hmm, sound familiar? Anorexia sure felt like captivity. Addiction sure feels like captivity — whether that be to gossiping, lying, cheating, stealing, vanity, — all these areas of our lives, we are slaves to. And I’m gonna be real with you: we are supposed to pay for those things.

But guess what. We don’t have to, because it has already been paid for.

That payment of ransom — for all the shit that we’ve done in the past, and that we will do in the future — that payment of ransom was Jesus on the Cross.

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He redeemed us. He paid our debt so that we don’t have to. Because He loves us that much. And that’s what you said “yes” to when you accepted Him into your heart. You accepted His redemption.

But here’s where the tricky part comes in.

Redeemed does not mean restored.

To restore, we have to still put in work. We have to let that redemption help to shape our decisions and actions.

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That’s why, just because you accept Jesus into your heart doesn’t mean that all temptations will simply vanish into thin air. Nope. Sorry. I wish it did. Oh, how I wish it did. But sadly, that’s not the case.

We’ve still got to put in the work.

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Restoration is a journey. And Jesus, living in your heart, will help you and strengthen you along the way, but you’ve got to put in the work.

So you accepted Jesus into your heart: you’ve officially been redeemed.

Picture a horse race: you’ve taken off out of the starting gate. The rest of the race is your restoration process.

And yes, it is a process. And it will look different for every single person. For me, it was (and is) staying in recovery, loving others, loving God, and learning to love myself.

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So to recap:

#1) It is a relationship. One that takes work. And putting in time. And as you do it, the more second nature that will become.

And #2) Working on your Post-Redemption Restoration. Which is a journey that you will be on for the rest of your life.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just journeying along myself. So take this with a grain of salt, from a broken vessel.

🙂

Having Him in my heart has given me strength when I’ve been at my weakest, has encouraged me when I’ve felt defeated, granted me peace in the storms, but most of all, He has helped me to see my true worth and value as coming from Him. And in my recovery, He is slowly, day by day, helping me to learn to love myself.

Right Where We Are

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It’s four am, and you look in the mirror, sick and tired of doing the thing you swore you absolutely would no longer do.

You woke up with the best intentions, but by the end of the day, you’ve fallen flat on your face…again.

Why?!!

Sound familiar?

I know this all too well. It may have even inspired this post 😛

This is not a new phenomenon. Even in the Bible, people were banging their heads against their mud hut walls in exasperation.

Romans 7:15: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.

Ummm, yeah.

Maybe you over-exercised. Restricted. Gave into destructive ED-thoughts. Binged. Hurt yourself. — And it doesn’t even have to be ED related. Maybe there’s something in your life that you just. can’t. stop. doing. Gossiping. Lying. Cheating. Harboring anger or jealousy. Hello — I just scratched the surface of my “list.”

But that feeling at the end of the day sucks. You lie awake, stare at the ceiling and are just angry at yourself. Furious that you aren’t strong enough to just F-ing get your life together. To stop doing this destructive behavior or thought process.

And you know what this often makes me do?

Hide from God. Avoid him. Cower in shame.

But here’s the truth. And, believe me, I’m not “preaching” here. I’m saying this for my own benefit tonight, and you guys are just on the listening end of what I’m reminding myself this evening.

But the truth is this: just as I am right now: broken, disheartened, stuck in a destructive pattern, feeling ashamed, feeling unworthy — this feeling of just shit — God will take me.

Just as I am.

In this moment.

Right now.

He’ll take me and love me. And the same goes for you.

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The Lie that I’ve battled since the beginning of my anorexia, and that still can haunt me now, even though I’m no longer in my disease, is that I have to be perfect in order to be loved.

And that transfers to a lot of other areas of my life: including my relationship with God.

I feel that in order to be loved by God, I have to have everything all figured out. I have to have everything together. I have to stop doing X, and do Y more, and definitely get Z out of my life altogether. I have to be perfect.

But that is a lie.

That is what ED wants me to believe.

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God wants me right where I am. Right now. In this brokenness. He wants to just take me and love me and heal that brokenness and fill my spirit with the joy and peace that comes from Him.

And the same goes for you.

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We’re not unqualified for His love because of anything we’ve done in the past. And if you’re anything like me, there’s probably quite a “checkered history” there. And conversely, there’s nothing we can do to earn that love either.

We’re wanted as is. You. Me. And all of our collective baggage.

He’ll take it all.

He’ll take you. He’ll take me. Right where we are.

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Why It’s So Damn Hard to Recover from an Eating Disorder

Anorexia recovery is a conundrum.

It’s kind of an oxymoron — like jumbo shrimp, or tiny elephant.

How do you recover from a disease where the only way out is to love yourself, but the disease itself dictates that you hate yourself?

This post isn’t depressing. I promise. I’m just setting the stage 🙂

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But I was thinking about it today, and this predicament is precisely why recovery is so difficult, and relapse so common.

Eating disorders, by their very nature, are a manifestation of self-hatred.

Think about the disease: everything stems from the inability to love yourself — everything is punishment: whether it be the restriction, the isolation, the purging, self-harm, excessive exercise, you name it — all of these ED behaviors are manifestations of the fact that you don’t love yourself. (And I’m saying you, but I mean we. I’m not pointing any fingers here, or calling a kettle “black,” when I’m a pot, myself.)

But anorexia and all eating disorders are the purest example of a lack of self-love.

So how does one recover from this perpetual state of self-hatred, when the only way to recover is to love yourself?

That’s why it’s so hard.

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It’s hard because you have to decide to go from a state of self-loathing to a state of self-love. You literally have to do a 180.

You have to choose to love yourself when you hate yourself.

You, in your self-abhorring state, have to say, You know what? I’m going to love myself enough to love myself.

That’s Pandora’s box. And I’m going to repeat it because I think this is really clutch.

You have to love yourself enough to love yourself.

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You have to make that decision from a place where loving yourself is The Last Thing you want to let yourself do. Or rather, that ED wants you to do.

This is why, just because the weight is on, doesn’t mean you’re cured.

This is why eating disorders often morph from one form to another — they’re all just different manifestations of a lack of self-love.

This is why, eating disorder recovery is 10% physical, 90% mental.

And this is why you cannot do it alone.

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How do you solve this impossible riddle? How do you decide to love yourself when every fiber of your being is screaming at you to you hate yourself?

Time for some #RealTalk. You knew it was coming, so here it is.

The only way is Jesus.

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And if you want to shut the laptop and say, “Psh, yeah right. NOT for me.” That’s okay. Hang in there. Keep fighting the good fight. I invite you to just read to the end.

I know for a long time, when I was entrenched in my anorexia, my mom would tell me this, and it would just piss me off. Like, it enraged me. But I can now look back and see that that rage was actually coming from ED, trying to ruthlessly protect the eating disorder, and repel the One True Source of healing. Trying to keep me from the One Thing that would actually make me recover.

The #RealTalk is this: You cannot choose to love yourself, when you hate yourself, without the help of Jesus. Only He can change your heart. Only He can chip away at the stone walls you’ve built. Only He can help you to begin to love yourself.

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Recovery isn’t going to happen by eating X and Y. It’s not going to happen by distracting yourself from ED behaviors through coloring or knitting or other “alternative behaviors.” I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I can’t.

Recovery is only going to happen when you decide that you are going to love yourself enough to love yourself. Because once you love yourself, all the ED behaviors will stop. You will no longer punish yourself or be cruel to yourself through self-destructive behaviors and choices. You will be kind to yourself. Gentle. Understanding. Forgiving. Accepting. Encouraging.

The only way out of ED hell is self-love.

And there is only one person who can make that choice: YOU.

And if you cannot make that decision yourself, because ED is controlling your thoughts and actions, then the only solution is Jesus.

He wants to help you love yourself. He wants to kick ED the hell outta there.

All you have to do is be open to Him coming into your heart. He is literally standing at the door, knocking to come in — because He wants to, because He loves you.

All you have to do is open the door.

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I’ll leave you with this: Maybe you’re not religious. Maybe you’re “against” the whole “God-thing.” But I just want to invite you: what do you have to lose? 

You’ve been trying and trying and trying to recover on your own, but you’re still right back where you started. Exasperated. Broken. Discouraged. Nothing’s working.

Why not just give this a try? Give Jesus a chance?

Seriously, what do you have to lose?

He may just will change your life.

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