The Surprise Party that Changed Everything

I want to start out tonight with a huge thank you for all of your wonderful messages on my birthday. I mean, dang – y’all sure do know how to make a gal feel special 🙂 Truly – your words were a bright spot in my day, so thank you for that!

I’ve gotta say, I don’t think my feet have touched the ground since my birthday on Monday.

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I just have to share with you. But first, I need to set the scene. Give you all a little back story.

One of the lesser known truths about anorexia, and one’s recovery from it, is that not only does it take an incredibly difficult toll on your body that has lasting effects — i.e., infertility, digestion issues, bone strength, etc. – but one of the most devastating impacts of the disease, is on your relationships.

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I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of really isolated years in high school and post high school when I was shackled to my eating disorder. I didn’t return a text or a phone call for probably 2 years.

I went from being the social-est of butterflies – dating the captain of the football team, and loving on every person in my path – to completely closing myself off to even my closest of friends – ashamed to let people see how entrenched in the anorexia I was, and frankly not wanting to let anyone help me.

And as a result, my relationships suffered. A lot. My friends would reach out and reach out – calling, texting, writing, showing up at my house. But there comes a point that, rejection after rejection – people give up. And the phone stops ringing.

And praise God that my “true blues” stuck with me, and I am grateful to that every day.  But I’d be lying if I said that a large majority of my relationships from high school never recovered. Many did – and I hold those beautiful, special people dear to my heart in gratitude. But many didn’t. And that is a sad truth that the only person I have to blame is myself.

But so as a result of knowing that severe isolation and loneliness, one of the most important themes of my recovery has been friendship.

Because, the truth is, I’m dang good friend material. And all I want to do is love other people, and let them know how much they are worth.

But there’s a catch: as well as I can do that for other people…I can’t let people do that for me. It’s still a lingering ramification of the lie that led to my eating disorder: that I was a burden to people and unworthy of love.

So as a result, I never want to celebrate — or even acknowledge — my birthday. My goal coming into every birthday is, how can I make the day come and go without making a big fuss? 

But it’s something that I’m working on overcoming.

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So okay — fast forward to the present. That was a very long way of setting the scene to honestly, one of the best days of my entire life, last Monday, on my birthday.

My friends threw me a surprise party. 

And please picture me, right now, with this huge, bashful, toothy grin on my face, because that’s exactly how I’m feeling. I haven’t stopped smiling since Monday. Feeling, just so loved, and so joyful, and so grateful for these incredible people that God has put into my life.

thought I was just going out to dinner with my best friend. My other best friend had a “work shoot” upstate and was “unable” to make it. (Little did I know, she helped plan the whole thing.)

I mean – I was so surprised. I was so clueless and in the dark, I didn’t even wear a bra!

I honestly, had no idea, I’m just thankful I remembered to put on deodorant…you know what I’m saying?

Well, we walked into the restaurant, and all of my friends were around this big table, and they had crowns and confetti, and specialty cocktails all waiting for me, with a big, “SURPRISE!”

I mean, I’m like getting choked up right now reliving it.

The joy I felt in my heart had me literally soaring. Truly, I had never felt that feeling before.

And it made me realize that it is good to let yourself be loved.

I have spent all my life since my anorexia refusing love, for the belief that I didn’t deserve it. That I was unworthy of receiving the love that people wanted to give.

And Monday night, I had no other option than to accept it — and you know what? It was glorious.

It honestly was a glimpse of Heaven in that cute little West Village bistro that night. That is how God wants us to live: in love. And I finally allowed myself to receive that blessing, and I’m telling you – my life, I don’t think, will ever be the same.

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I finally feel like I can close the chapter of resisting love. Because, I am worthy of love. And joy. And laughter. And life in abundance. That is what God longs to give me – and you. That’s why He died on that Cross — out of love.

My heart is overwhelmed in gratitude for those incredible people in my life. And for those two best friends that threw the party. — Those “true blues” that have been by my side in best friendship for more than 20 years. They are such a gift to me, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the beautiful, lifelong friendship He has blessed me with, in them.

If this is what allowing love from friends feels like, I can only image the cloud I will be floating on when that love from Mr. Right comes into my life.

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This is going to be a great year. I can just feel it.

So thanks for graciously listening to me gush about something that has been truly long overdue in my life: letting love in.

Consider me a new woman!

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See ya tomorrow morning on the Podcast!

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A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia.  Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.

Be sure to check out my affiliate, Audible. Listening to audiobooks while I cook is literally my new favorite thing. And just for you, they’re offering a Free 30-Day Trial Membership. And with this free membership, you’re going to get 2 free audiobooks! Literally. Free. It is the best deal ever. And if for some reason, you decide it’s not for you, you can cancel within those 30 days and it’s zero money out of your pocket, plus, you get to keep the 2 audiobooks. Soooo…it’s pretty much a no brainer. Plus, it’s a free and easy way to support this blog! So thank you!! 

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181 thoughts on “The Surprise Party that Changed Everything

    1. Aww thank you Tonya! Yeah it was truly such an amazing night 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  1. Happy Birthday week/month! You SO deserved that party. You’re such an inspiration to so many. Keep that beautiful smile on, girlfriend.
    Love you. Hugs.
    -Melissa

  2. This experience, this lie of our own “unworthiness” does so much damage, separating us from God’s love, the love of those close to us, and the true ability to love others. Enjoy the beauty and lasting effects of the party Miss Caralyn. <3

  3. Hey, New Gal, glad you had an impromptu bash! I have two things:

    1. Your anorexia – I vaguely recall that it was caused by a rare physical/intestinal condition. So was it bona fide anotexia?

    2. Some 33 years ago, I knew an amorexic girl and she was really, really a nice person. All I wanted to give her, was friendship. I openly discussed with her that I wanted to be there for her without any pressure or expectations from my side. Her Dad died in a very hot bath when she was five years old and she used to bath with him. In her mind, she killed him. I knew her when she was 18-22. I still fail to understand why she couldn’t accept even platonic friendship, let alone romance.

    Maybe someone unknown reading here can benefit from this….

    1. Haha thank you so much! Yes it was full blown anorexia. Gosh that makes me so sad to read. I hope it does Hugs and love xox

  4. Oh!! Such a beautiful post!! What a happy occasion!! Yes, there is no better blessing than friendship and loved ones. And you are so lovable!!

    I’m 41, and I have a lot of friends, but NONE of them are from high school. That you have any from then says a lot! I used to think the only friends could be the ones with whom I shared a history, but I was wrong! It’s never too late to make a new friend. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Meg!! Aww you’re so kind. And yes! It’s always a good time to make new friends! Hugs and love xox

  5. Losing friends, for whatever reason, is a pain that lingers. But Jesus died for that as well! He forgives. He restores. He heals. Maybe not the friendship, but he does heal your heart.

  6. I’m reminded of an old Michael W. Smith lyric: “Love isn’t love until you give it away.” You do such a wonderful job of that, and are so very worthy of receiving it. Enjoy the buzz you’re on, dear. You deserve it. Hugs and love from Kentucky— Mike

  7. Belated Happy Birthday, Caralyn!!! You should feel both proud and loved. But never, ever forget that regardless of what happens around you with family and friends God loves you — totally and unconditionally! And as I tell my daughter roughly your age, love of a man will come — and when you least expect it. Ted

  8. This was a fantastic read! You deserved a good birthday celebration, and I’m happy to hear that your friends delivered. By the way, you run a great blog. It’s been a pleasure following it. Don’t stop writing!
    😉
    God is good.

  9. Oh, my goodness!! That was better than a Hallmark Channel movie!! 🙌🙌 So proud of you! Yes, it’s going to be a great year! Have a great weekend!! 🤗🤗🤗xoxo

    1. haha aww thank you Kenneth! i would have to agree — and you know how i love those hallmark movies! hah Hugs and love xox

  10. Oh the warmth of that experience was so well expressed we felt it with you! God bless you. We believe this will certainly be the best year for you yet. 🙂

  11. Beautiful !!!!!! It’s also hard for me to receive love unless it’s from a man . I don’t have many friends since I got sober but I’m trusting God to bless me with some amazing friends that will love on me like I’ve never been loved on lol I have a lot of love to give and I look forward to moments like this. I’m so happy you got to experience this!!! Happy birthday ! You’ve come a long way and I’m so Happy I get to see your growth through your blog . God bless you !!!❤️❤️❤️

    1. aw thank you so much friend! i know He will bless you abundantly. your bravery is inspiring!! Hugs and love xox

  12. I want to wish you a late Happy Birthday – because in my opinion, birthdays ought to continue after The Day itself: It’s a time to celebrate all that you bring to the world, and all that brings you joy in it! And it’s wonderful to hear that it really was a Happy Birthday!!!

  13. Love, love, love this post! I got good, Holy Spirit chills when I read “That is how God wants us to live: in love.” Truth, my friend. That is good, ‘ol truth there. Thank you for sharing and happy belated birthday! Muah!

  14. This is such a great post. A good reminder of how much we need our friends … and how much our friends need us. It’s so important to follow that “inner voice” that prompts us when our besties need a little extra celebrating and love. I’m glad you had such a special birthday. Here’s to that special year ahead that you are anticipating!

  15. Have you found it difficult to take criticism over the years? Even the word might seem loathsome, but there is positive criticism and negative.

    1. Hmm I’m sorry! I don’t know much about the avatar system. Sorry I can’t be more help! Hugs and love xox

  16. I’m really happy for you. There’s this saying, “Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer” by Jean de la Fontaine. You are so blessed to have such amazing friends!

    – Katie

  17. I know a bit of what it’s like to have a hard time letting oneself be loved and cared for; nothing like what you’ve gone through, but, perhaps, a whisper of it. Hearing today just how deeply you have held yourself back from being loved and cared for made me appreciate you all the more. THANK YOU for accepting the support I’ve so enjoyed giving you!

    I wrote some additional thoughts from Monday’s post on Patreon after listening to your podcast of Monday’s post. And, when it comes to finally meeting “The Guy” I want you to stop being passive! Ever see the cartoon of two vultures and one says to the other, “Patience my ass!. I’m gonna kill something.” Stop waiting for it and go get it! To be expanded on at Patreon.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    1. Thank you Jeff 🙂 you’re such a great friend and I am so grateful for that 🙂 patience my ass – hah! taking that to heart haha! Have an awesome Friday my friend 🙂 xox

      1. I did! I loved spending time with family and friends. Plus, puppy snuggles! My brother-in-law and sister-in-law just got a puppy a few weeks ago.

  18. I have never experienced what you have gave, but our struggles are very similar. My lack of friend-worthiness often robs me of some very special people times. Thank you for sharing, you are truly a light on my path to healing.

  19. What wonderful friends you have! So much love! I love your line ‘ it is good to let yourself be loved’ as I’ve struggled with this in the past, not feeling worthy of love. But I’ve now learned that the most important relationship you’ll ever have (besides with the Divine) is with yourself: self love. Loving myself also meansl letting people love and care for me rather being fiercely I dependent and pushing people away. Realizing that you are worthy of that love and affection.

  20. Welcome to the World of Love, Caralyn! It’s my world, too. I love birthdays! I love people. I love God, and I want His light to shine through me. This post of yours has God shining through. You are more than ready to live in the World of Love – let it in – reflect it- and wallow in it! Read Bob Goff’s “Love Does” and marvel at the fact that “Love is never stationary.” (That’s a quote from his second book, “Everybody Always.”) Run, don’t walk, to your nearest book store or go on line to get those books. Required reading for those of us who are “becoming love.” Love is a verb, but it’s also a noun. It’s what we are becoming as we seek each day to live in God’s Will and fulfill that commandment: Love One another. “The greatest of these is love.” Soooo glad you had such a wonderful birthday surrounded by true-blu friends. I did, too. I threw my own pizza party and had “38 to Celebrate.” Each year gets better (mine was a 79th!). Each day is a gift of God’s love. Live it to the fullest – and pass it on! The present is a present! <3

    1. Awww, Jan thank you so much!! I just read Bob Goff’s first book and loved it! I’ll have to get Love Does too! Hugs and love xox

  21. That sounds so fun!! I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday with your friends. I also have trouble believing that my friends really love me and I’m not just an annoyance for them, but the truth is they show me it’s the first over and over again. Let yourself be loved and accept the great present that friendship is 🙂

    1. Thank you Paola! It was seriously one of the best nights of my life! Hugs and love xox

  22. Congratulations Caralyn 🙂 I pray you continue to “let love in”. It is God’s gift to us, as you give it, we also need to receive it. God Bless!

  23. “Live in love.” Just three simple words, spelled with just ten letters, and yet so profound, especially in the context of your life, Caralyn. SO glad you enjoyed such a glorious birthday, and you let yourself be loved! With you I pray this next year of your life will be characterized by love–both gifted and received.

    1. Thank you so much Nancy. Yes!! Thank you for your beautiful prayer 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  24. So sorry I missed your birthday post gurly! Happy Belated Birthday!!!!! – I would say I hope it was fun, but according to this post you had FUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!! So glad your friends were such angels and threw you a “well-deserved” party. Because you really do deserve it C. So happy for you and the even greater things that will be coming your way!!! Can’t wait to hear about them all! Again, Happy Belated B-Day!! Much Love xoxo

  25. Reading this, I felt exactly like I was reading my own memoir with just a few tweaks. Take out anorexia, add in anxiety. Take out pushing them away on purpose to pushing them away without even realizing it, etc. Little details. But gosh, this is so weird to hear that someone else has gone through something so similar.

    The good news is, it does get better (this sounds like such a cliche nowadays)! I did find that special someone you’ve mentioned here and there before. It’s not always easy and sometimes those old ways want to come back, but he is amazing. I really hope you can experience more days like this birthday of your’s. And I hope when you find that someone, you realize just how right you are to let love back into your life.

    I love reading your posts because they make me feel like I’m listening to a friend. Not joking. We probably have very little in common except for these types of posts, but I love reading them nonetheless! Thanks for making me feel less lonely about all this.

    1. oh gosh thank you so much friend 🙂 I’m so glad that this resonated with you 🙂 sending you so much love and hugs xox

  26. 🌻🌷🌸🌻🌷🌸 So happy for you! Glad you were able to let them love on you! When God sends the right man around he will be quite blessed to have you.

  27. Hugs and Happy Birthday!! Sorry I haven’t been on here lately as I’ve been into getting my new office ready as well as getting my kids through their summer things ( my older daughter through Drivers Ed and my younger one through her summer theatre production. My son got through his internship too but I didn’t have to help much there). God’s love and light with you every day!! You are the epitome of beautiful love and ligtht and you deserved such a beautiful birthday celebration!! x0x0x0x0x0x0

    1. Oh my gosh Miguel. Thank you friend 🙂 congrats on the new office! Hugs and love xox

  28. Happy belated birthday! I’m glad you had a good set of friends to set up a birthday for you. I know how you feel… my disorder has been the only “relationship” that has really stuck around compared to all the friends I have made in the past. Even as of right now, I don’t have any friends from high school. Unfortunately they didn’t last and the one good friend I had out of all of them didn’t work either. It sucks. I still think about her every now and then, especially when another Marvel film comes out. She enjoyed watching and reading comic books at much as I did. Even though it says in the Bible that there are things in life that will last for a season and things that last for a lifetime, but it still sucks when a relationship ends. But as you found out for yourself, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing after all.

    1. Thank you so much Ezi! Yes I feel incredibly grateful 🙂 I agree – endings are always difficult. Hugs and love xox

    1. Awww thank you so much! I’m so glad it hit home with you! I may copy your post it idea! Haha Hugs and love xox

    2. Oh my gosh thank you so much! I’m so glad it resonated with you! I may have to copy your post it idea! Hugs and love xox

  29. Happy belated birthday Caralyn!!!! This post really resonated with me, as I struggle with feeling like a burden due to chronic illness. But it’s so true that if Jesus saw us as worthy enough to die for us, then we can receive and give love too!

  30. Caralyn, your post made me smile. What beautiful gifts for your special day! I’m so happy with you. God bless you in your new journeys this coming year. 💕

  31. HALLELUJAH!!! That is great news Caralyn, that you realized you are worthy of love, and you allowed yourself to receive love. The first step in a totally new Caralyn, which means all the excellent, charming, loving, caring, compassionate characteristics of you and your personality will grow even more (which I did not think possible, as I have grown to know you and love you from this great distance, and thru electronics).

    The Fruit of the Spirit, as recorded in Scripture, will even magnify your God given talents and gifts even more.

    Galatians 5:22-23
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    There is an excellent recording on YouTube by Jason Crabb, titled “Worthy”, how God looks at us, seeing us as worthy, and worth to die for.
    Good for all to listen to, especially any who may suffer with insecurities of God’s Love.

    I know you are experiencing and accepting the Love of God, Caralyn, but is still a fantastic message in music.
    And now, as you accept the love given you, that you are so worthy of also, as you pour out so much love to others.

    God Bless you, my Friend, Caralyn.
    Luv ya, 😀❤️🌹😘

    1. Thank you George, for sharing in the joy with me!! I will have to look up Worthy on YouTube. Sounds pretty awesome 🙂 thanks for being such a great friend! Big hugs and big love! Xox

  32. Hello, babes! I am sorry I missed your birthday. But it’s better late than never. Happy belated birthday to you, my friend. You are extraordinarily special. I often wondered how do you juggle between dealing with your struggle and making other people happy. And the best reason I can come up with is this; You are a chosen one.
    Best regards.

  33. Belated happy birthday!
    Great to hear your joy over the surprise party and the love of your friends.
    To God be the glory for your recovery and growing confidence. 👑

  34. Hey,

    Look, I know this is kind of strange, but it’s the only way I could reach you. If you would be up for it, I’d love to meet you and grab dinner together sometime.

  35. Caralyn, I am so glad you were able to have that revelation that you deserve to be loved. You ARE worthy of love. That is exactly why I always talk about your beautiful soul. You do so much and touch so many people through this blog and your podcast. You get so occupied with showing others love, that you forget you need that too. You are such a tremendous blessing and although we have never ACTUALLY met, I feel like I have found a lifelong friend in you. You deserve every bit of love you can handle, and I got a whole lot of it coming at you from Texas as always! Hugs and Love you beautiful person you! God Bless XOXO

    1. Aw thank you so much Paul 🙂 what kind words. Gosh I am seriously so touched. Texas forever haha Hugs and love xox

  36. Loved reading your post and how vulnerable you got, but also seeing the beauty in life as it is now. Happy belated birthday and hope to continue to stay connected!
    Xo Rachelle

  37. Happy Belated Birthday! What a suitably happy post, living in the moment and filled with gratitude – such a joy to read. So now: you have a new year before you, and I wish you more of such happiness (that means: put aside those nagging thoughts of what you don’t -yet- have, and live your life Now with your beautiful family and friends : ) Hugs, and thank you for the vicarious travel; I’m so glad your trip with your mom went well. You are both remarkable women, and I feel fortunate (blessed!) to be able to follow your adventures (the good, the bad, and the unfolding) here.

    1. Thank you so much!! Gosh that’s so kind of you to say. I definitely look up to my mama so much! Hugs and love xox

  38. Happy belated birthday and I am glad that you had a wonderful birthday experience. 💙

  39. Ive been away a long time , but I see you are still kicking ass and taking names (although, gosh, you are quite the marketing machine now!) You should add “Brave” in front of your blog title. So happy for you.

    1. Awww thank you! That’s so kind of you to say. Haha I like that — BBBB! Hahha so glad to “see” ya! Hugs and love xox

  40. I heard something last night that fits your writing in some of your posts: Make your mess your message! You speak so openly and honestly its very encouraging. thank you for the likes at DailyBiblePrayer. They encourage me. I need to find a way for comments to be on there. I thought they used to be…Appreciate you! God bless your day. laura

  41. Awww that was so sweet of them my friends/sisters in Christ did the same for me! I felt so much love and I almost cried! Lol it was such a blessing! Much love and blessings you way! You’re such a beautiful soul! <3 xxoo
    P.S I'm gonna binge read on your blog due to my time away from it haha! So indulge in my notifications! 😛 lolol

    1. thanks Tammy! aww yay! yeah it is so wonderful to have such great friends! hahahah thanks girl xo

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