A Photoless Past

Ahh, Facebook. You wolf in sheep’s clothing, you. A veritable Taylor Swift, if you will.

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JK JK

I love me some T. Swizzle.

But it’s true. I have a love/hate relationship with The Book.

Why?

One word:

Photos.

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You see, when I was deep in the throes of my anorexia, Facebook was just a fetus. As in, only my older brothers had profiles, because you had to have an “.edu” email address to sign up. Not that it really mattered at the time…AOL instant messaging was eating up too much time to care about Facebook. *scoffs*

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But it’s true.

The photo section of my Facebook profile is hard for me to scroll through.

Because there is a large chunk of time where photos are just not there.

Now, to be clear, all of my albums when I was visibly sick are set to the privacy status of “me only.” But still, when I pull up that page, (which I extremely rarely do) – those “hard-to-look-at” photos are there, accosting me in the face.

That’s actually one of the really sad parts about having such a traumatic event in your past: revisiting photos of those times is really painful. So I never do. And in essence, I’ve practically erased that time from my documented history. Aside from Facebook, I’ve thrown away pictures, photo ornaments, yearbooks, home videos – anything that documented me in my skeletal state has since been erased from history.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe not with an eating disorder, but perhaps with a different trial or hard time in your life. *Poof* Made it disappear. Erased all evidence.

And actually, it was in listening to a podcast this afternoon from This American Life that made me think of this. I was listening to the episode entitled, “Tell Me I’m Fat” and one of the segments was the interview of this woman who had lost close to 200 pounds. And she talked about this very thing: erasing the history of when she was heavy. Throwing away all the photos because of the shame and embarrassment and pain associated with those photos.

And I found that she and I had gone through the same response to our pasts.

We both had been “wearing” our struggle on our bodies, just in different ways. We were visibly different people “back then.” And seeing photos of yourself as a visibly different person, the reminder is just a punch in the gut – no pun intended.

But there’s something that happens when you just erase a big chunk of your history. I mean, from the ages of about 17-20, I don’t have a single picture. It’s like it didn’t happen.

And that does something to your brain. To your spirit. It sends a message.

A message of shame. Of resentment. Embarrassment. Anger. Guilt. Loss.

And I’m going to be honest, much like I had to do for the year I spent on bedrest for Ulcerative Colitis, I had to mourn the loss of those years I missed out on due to anorexia.

I had to mourn the loss of my senior year of high school. Graduation. Senior summer. Freshman year of college.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I can never get those times back.

There will always be that “dark age” in my photo history where there are no pictures to show.

But you know what? That’s not how the story has to end.

In a way, it just serves as a reminder not to take anything -or any time – for granted. I have some making up to do, and it’s safe to say, I’m doing just that.

And maybe, just maybe, the reason there are no photos to show for that time, was because it was during that time that God was at work. Working a miracle. Saving my life. Healing me. Transforming me. Much like a butterfly, I was in a chrysalis, undergoing a transformation: body, mind, and spirit.


Fr. Mike Schmitz (the great 🙂 ) once said, “Jesus does His best work in caves.” Obviously, referring to the cave where He rose from the dead, but it’s true: that was in a tomb with a boulder rolled over the entrance. It was dark.

A dark period.

And well, you know what happened

Does this mean that I want to blast pictures of a gaunt and lifeless me all over the inter webs and plaster it to my forehead? Heeeeeeeeck to the no.

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But I need to realize that that dark period is nothing to be ashamed of. Not that I should be proud of it, but just to understand that my sickly body was a walking wound. A wound that healed. Or rather, received healingAnd any evidence that may be lurking in the deep recesses of private Facebook photo albums can just serve as a reminder to the power of His saving hand in my life. A reminder of how far I’ve come. A reminder to celebrate the new life I have been given and the new creation I’ve become.


I may not have any picture evidence to show for that time, but I am a living, walking, in-the-flesh piece of evidence that darkness is never permanent. Evidence that there is life in abundance when you live in the Light.


 

 

 

 

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230 thoughts on “A Photoless Past

  1. Dark periods end. A wounded time is nothing to be ashamed of. Soooo good to hear. It helps me be courageous to talk about my own crazy dark times last year. Thank you for the reminder! By the looks of the comments and the follows, you are touching a lot of hearts! Keep it up!

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  2. The wonderful thing about getting to know you here is learning many sides about you. The problem with FB is that many there don’t WANT to know when something went wrong. You get the ones who post asking for prayers or for sympathy, but overall most prefer the “Happy Go Lucky” statuses and posts. You get blamed of being a downer or having too much drama if you post much on the darker side on FB. You think you might get support, but many ears close. I’m glad to follow you there and you can certainly friend me, but I’m glad to know what I’ve learned about you HERE, and not just the fluff on the surface. You are all around amazing and inspiring xoxoxo Much Love!!

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    • Hey friend:) gosh you are such a bright light in my day! Yeah you’re right about that with Facebook. And now it’s all either political, weddings or food videos! Haha I know, I’m so glad our paths crossed here first. Sending big big hugs to you friend xox

      Liked by 1 person

      • xoxo I sooooo stay off the political yadda. Once in a while, I’ll say something, but I don’t get into all the posts and signs and etc.. over candidates and all. The thing I don’t quite care for, is how people will post things wanting others to like them, but don’t come around and like things YOU post. More xoxoxo

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      • This is something I had sent you at FB after the poem I shared and all that I said before regarding NYC. I wasn’t sure if you had a chance to see it. So I’m re-sharing it here. xoxoxo

        Don’t get me wrong, I like the bigger brighter sides of NYC too. What I don’t like is this “erasing the character” of so many neighborhoods of different ethnic and racial populations. They make up the colors and character of NYC as much as “Midtown Manhattan”, and every Starbucks.
        I’m glad the days of The Bronx Burning are over. I’m glad Brooklyn has raised itself, and even parts of Queens too. but clean doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t have to) mean tossing the people and their identities out.

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  3. LOVE! This so reminded me of Exodus 33:22!! When we’re in the dark and don’t see Him, I truly think that’s when He’s closest. He’s just placed us carefully in that cleft in the rock while His glory passes by. And once we’re out of that place, we can see His back and the work He’d been doing in our lives. The Dark is hard…but His glory is beautiful! No matter what the pictures look like! ❤

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I have always appreciated the transparency revealed in your posts. Once again, your poster art is the perfect complement that extracts the essence of your message in such a captivating way. You let your life speak, indeed.

    As always, thanks for the likes posted on Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.

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  5. Well said. I have to ingest FB in moderation and, at times, I go so far as to deactivate. I’m bothered to see the “best”. . . . “always the best” . . . “my life is perfect”. . . facade that so many. I’d much rather see struggles because we all have them. If you only read FB, you’d think no one has problems. This is why I follow Blogs like your. It’s real and sometimes so honest that it makes me realize . . . “Pheeewww, I’m not the only one.” Keep up the great work. Your work here is important!

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    • Hey Bruce! Wow thank you for such a thoughtful response. I so agree about fb. It’s everyone’s highlight reel. I have to constantly remind myself of that when I go on there. Because you’re right: life is real. Raw. Messy. With struggles. Which allows God to come in and do His “work in the cave.” Anywho, so glad you stopped by. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! Xx

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  6. I love they way you designed your site. How do you make such cool photos with inscriptions on them? I’d really like to add that personal touch to my blog, I’m very inspired by you. Thank you for that goft

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  7. And what’s more you end up looking very astonishingly beautiful! And still, for others expecting miracles from the LORD, if it has to do with Jehovah God then fret not. Be rest assured that HE can and will do all that’s necessary to make it happen. Creationism came into being a la ex nihilo! Why do you think He also created a Sabbath as the last? And who is the Lord of Sabbath? Cool down. It’s all well! Amen!! A beautiful post as usual.

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  8. Great post 🙂 That quote from that father coincided perfectly with this post. We may not know it at the time, but sometimes a dark period benefits us in that we learn about how to mature as a human being. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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  9. Regarding your entry there, about photographs and life and time ..etc…. just a few words from me, if that’s okay?

    It’s simply a fact that God always gives back to us that which was taken away from us, or that which we have lost, when it comes to times or experiences or just some things that are important for us to ‘keep’ somewhere, for ourselves.

    I believe that no matter what photographs look like, that it is important for us, as human beings to have that documentation of ourselves for our own memory, even during those times which you might call dark times or wounded times, whether it is about weight or about how someone or something in this world has made a seemingly-permanent mark on us. <—– but that's just my opinion.. on that.

    For sure, I like what you wrote there when you wrote that "darkness is never permanent" . My brother wasn't aware of this very clear and evident fact, that darkness is never permanent. When one feels or believes or thinks that darkness is permanent, that is when one is feeling hopeless and that is not healthy for human beings, at all. My brother killed himself because he thought that darkness was permanent, and therefore felt no hope was left for him.

    It is my sincere wish and hope and, perhaps better than that, it is my prayer, that anyone who is mistakenly thinking that darkness is permanent, rethink that, and know, and remember that there is always hope, no matter what. And thus, there is nothing on this planet that is so dark or harmful or painful that we can not get past that and over that.

    On the topic of Facebook, uhghg… I don't like facebook at all, for various reasons, mostly because their privacy policy is too convoluted, complicated, twisted and technically fixed so that almost everything somehow winds up public–even things marked private of for friends only.

    ….just an opinion here, on the same topic….

    Only God, and God's light, and love, loyalty, and strength is permanent. All that is necessary is that one believe, truly believe.

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    • Hey friend. Thank you for this beautiful perspective. So very powerful. You’re right-God is always working and wants to give His children the best for them. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

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  10. Pingback: A Photoless Past – Br Andrew's Muses

  11. In Switchfoot’s new EP entitled, “The Wound is Where the Light Shines Through” I am reminded how the wounds of our past become the place where God’s redemptive light shines through. Your struggle has actually become the “platform” to encourage and bring healing to others. Though it feels like “lost” years, they have become the place where a testimony of God’s redeeming grace now shines through! I “lost” seven years to a crazy destructive lifestyle in my teens and early twenties that actually became the catalyst to my finding God. I have grieved for the lost years but sit in amazement how God has used my poor choices and pain to help many others in pain because of their choices and past. 2 Corinthinans 1:3-4, ” Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Past pain and hurt is where the light shines through :0)

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  12. THIS article is the best article I’ve read on WordPress yet. You touched my heart tonight, and I love your writing style!!

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  13. Beautiful, honest, powerful and encouraging. Your words always lift me and help me cling on to hope in Him. Thanks my lovely xxxx ps – sent you couple of messages about supporting you as a Patreon, not sure you received them? xx

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  14. Just after I related my experience in another thread about parts of / people in my life that I have to keep a safe distance from, one of them came a bit too close again and annoyed me for that evening. Yes.. sometimes you just have to close the door.

    Others open everywhere! 🙂

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  15. Oh yeah, just remembered that this thread brought this song to mind… sounds pretty dated now but… good lyrics.

    One comment at YouTube thought it was a “hate” tune but I see it as speaking out against the evil one.

    🙂

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  16. I’ve felt the same about my past work experience. Taking a lot of those “down” or on private. Part of me wishes I didn’t go down that road. But I know God uses all things ♡
    Great post and great writing!

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  17. Hey I’m so happy you took the time to like my post because I found your blog. It’s amazing. I can so relate to this post because i have a huge chunk of years that the only evidence is the horrific memories. However I long to find pictures out there somewhere, it helps me to remember the few good times in those dark days but also reminds me where I came from and where i never want to be. But honestly I have enough of them in only me folders as well. Thank you for sharing your vulnerable thoughts and feelings and being an inspiration to others. BTW you did great on your photos!!!

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  18. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. You are very brave. It is sad that for some of us we feel that we need to do things to ourselves that not only affect us physically but emotionally as well. I am thankful that you’ve been able to move past this and that you can look forward to a brighter future. I suffered for a few years with bulimia. It was also during a really rough time in my life, but then I became addicted to it after coming out of the rough time. Sometimes I still struggle with my looks but I will never go back to that way of life. Your words about not being able to look at photos from that time is something that I can relate to in a way. Sometimes I have trouble looking at the photos of who I once was because I don’t look like that anymore. This post means alot, so thank you again for sharing.

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