To Love is To Live

First off tonight, thank you guys for such a powerful dialogue on Thursday’s post about the police. So many perspectives and ideas were brought to the table. It was a rich learning opportunity for sure.

I’m shifting gears tonight, away from the explosive and divisive political climate. I can only stomach so much politics at a time, and coming off of the DNC/RNC, I need something feel good to say the list.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t really have a witty or pun-full way of getting into this, so here we go.

If I could go back to my younger years, when I was in the throes of anorexia, and when I was starting out my recovery journey — some 13 years ago — there are so many things I would tell that scared and hurting girl.

So many words of encouragement about how an abundant life is waiting for the healthy, vibrant young woman I was stifling inside the shell of a gaunt, ghost of a human. Sure, I’d say how weight gain was not something to be fear, and I’d caution against using exercise as a form of punishment. I’d urge myself to have an accountability partner in college, and gently tell myself that being “scary skinny” pushes people away and makes them feel uncomfortable.

But the biggest thing I’d want to really talk to my former self about, is love.

(Que the Frank Sinatra song.)

Love.

This is an area of eating disorder recovery that is simply not talked about or even addressed at inpatient or in recovery communities, but is, in my opinion, so incredibly important.

And I get it: at inpatient, the most pressing task is restoring weight and learning to eat and not abuse exercise/other forms of purging.

Those are the life and death issues at hand. It’s understandable that love would be at the absolute bottom of the “recovery totem pole” — however, I would like to propose, that it is one of the most important non-physical parts of recovery, that takes the absolute longest to embrace.

And I am writing this today, as someone who has been in recovery for 13 years, and just now have embraced this milestone of recovery: allowing love into my life — both loving someone else, and allowing myself to be loved.

And as I type this with joyful tears in my eyes, I want to just say how beautiful the feeling is. One that, to be honest, for a long time I feared I would never experience.

Why?

Because in order to truly love and be loved, you must first love yourself.

Yes.

You cannot love another without first loving yourself.

For someone who never suffered from anorexia or an eating disorder, the concept of “not loving yourself” seems ludicrous. Like some sort of over-dramatic plea for attention or pity. Or at it’s most watered down — a “woe-is-me” complex.

But at the core of every eating disorder is a lie that you are not worthy of love. So the transformation and healing process to treating your body with respect, love and gentleness is a complete and total one eighty that goes against every disordered belief that led to complete self destruction.

That metamorphasis took me nearly 12 years. And only since then have I been able to extend that love to another person, and truly and fully receive it in return.

And what I would say to my younger self, is that love is what life is all about.

The joy that I have had in my life is bursting out of every cell in my body.

My friends tell me that they have never seen me so happy. I end the day with hurting cheeks from smiling so much.

And the most incredible thing too, is that love puts life in perspective. I’ve become more relaxed, more care free. More accepting of my flaws and imperfections. Every new day puts the eating disorder further and further in the rear-view mirror.

So for every recovery warrior reading this, I just pray you know the immense joy that is waiting for you, when you choose to allow love from yourself, and from another into your life.

Because you are worth it. I am worth it.

And it’s amazing how life takes off when you not just believe it, but act on it too.

One day at a time. Recovery is a long road. Things don’t happen overnight. But one day, you’ll realize that you’re no longer battling a rocky uphill climb, but rather, the road is smooth, downhill, and full of beauty and rays of glorious sunlight.

That’s a life lived in love.

Because love is what life’s all about.

“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5

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80 thoughts on “To Love is To Live

  1. “Now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. It’s wonderful that you’ve found love—I assume with a very nice gentleman who values you to the max. Congrats and God Bless!

    1. Thanks David! Amen to that – the greatest of these! I appreciate you saying that 🙂 means a lot! Hugs and love xox

      1. So David beat me to these verses. The moment I started reading your post today, I Corinthians 13:13 came to mind. My oldest daughter struggled with this in her teens, and I know she has continued to struggle with loving herself and accepting herself as she is. And, like you, she’s absolutely, beautiful!

      2. Thank you so much Barbara! Those verses are so powerful! I love them. I’m sorry to hear your daughter has gone through something similar. There is hope to be found! Jesus heals all hearts!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  2. While I have not dealt with anorexia (more on the other side of the street – obesity) I do understand where you are coming from. Loving ourselves stems from understanding who we are and what we are all about. It is the foundation of our relationship with ourselves, others, and our relationship with God. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks Timothy. You’re right – from understanding who we are! It really is! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thanks Ted. You’re so right. Love. Period. Can’t get anymore straightforward than that! Hugs and love xox

  3. You are a beautiful person inside and out so you have nothing to worry about. Stay true to yourself and you will be fine. Keep that beautiful smile and it will only draw in the best. God Bless.

  4. Ahh Miss Caralyn, Love. Love. Love.Love.
    May you enjoy the warmth of a fire ignited in your heart.
    Of a desire for shared experiences.
    Of a desire to give, and receive.
    Of a desire to grow, and discover, and become.
    Of a desire to seek out the best in the other, to desire the best for the other.
    To receive without reservation and fear.
    Ah Love.

    1. Awww thank you Teri 🙂 this is absolutely beautiful and brought a big smile to my face. Amen to that!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you for sharing that my friend. It is a scary pool to do do a toe into for sure. I feel you. But in my recent experience it is so so worth it!! Hugs and love xox

  5. Please don’t ever forget that. If you find yourself down, go back and read this article. You’ll snap out of it right away. The main thing is don’t ever put yourself in a compromising position. Always maintain the belief that you’re loved by God, because you truly are. That’s the reality of the situation. God loves you. His love never fails. Jesus shed his blood on the cross for you. He died for you. There was a booklet written in the 80s. The author relates a story when he was 9 years old. He had a vision of Heaven. He went to heaven and saw Jesus. They played in the River of Life. Jesus actually told him that if he even thought one person would repent and come to know him, He would have come and died on the cross. That’s how much God loves you.

    1. Thank you friend. You’re right – His love never ever fails. What a profoundly beautiful and comforting truth!! Hugs and love xox

  6. Caralyn, this is a great pre-view of what awaits every recovery warrior. I suppose that just crawling out of a muddy ditch and trying to scrape off the filth is all-consuming. One might even despair of ever getting completely cleaned off! Just when you think you got it all – nope! There’s some more!

    People still trying to do the basics can’t imagine being where you are, but you can give them a look at a future they can have if they can just stick it out. That’s your value to your fellow recovery warriors at all stages – you are candid about your past and your pain, which makes your current joy seem attainable to them.

    Have you considered having a permanent link to your CTK speech as part of your cover page? Something prominent, hard to miss? Maybe right next to or in place of “Read Me First.” Maybe have a picture of you at the podium – “Click on me.” That speech was so riveting, I think people new to your site would benefit from it immensely! I read my diary entry from that day. I’d forgotten that I noted how I heard gasps and saw open mouths of people as they listened. Hearing your in-the-weeds story would be a great intro to who you are and to let people know that the woman you are now made it out of that big of a hole! Remember the email you got from the woman who watched it live with her daughter? Maybe even offer a download of it for a very modest fee of some sort.

    Anyway, enough brain-storming. Your B3 mission continues to be a great resource for fellow ED sufferers! I’m very proud of you and the growth I’ve witnessed from the start!

    1. Thank you so much Jeff! Yes! I wish I knew before how sweet the nectar of recovery was. It could make me feel very sad on the years I “missed” out on, but I know that it was all in Gods perfect timing and He’s been shaping me the whole time and i needed to go through that season. Oooh that’s such a great idea about the link! I will definitely work on that this week! I love that. Very grateful for the fruits of your brainstorming! Haha and for your friendship. You are truly a blessing to me. Have a great night Jeff. Hugs to you and your girls!

    1. Aw thank you Ian, that means a lot. I am seriously humbled by such generous words!! Hugs and love xox

  7. Well said Caralyn. It’s the same with mental illness. Sometimes, it’s easy to beat yourself up for imperfections. Acceptance is important. But loving oneself goes a long way.

    1. Thank you Derek!! You’re so right – both have the same line. It goes a long way. Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh Tonya you’re the best. Thank you my dear friend. Love you too and I hope you had a beautiful beautiful weekend! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you friend!! It really is a wonderful world —- I think to my sometimes, just that 😉 have a great Tuesday! Hugs and love xox

  8. Yes you have it right. I wrote this on April 18th
    “Love is everything!”
    “No quality of human nature is more remarkable, both in itself and in its consequences, than that propensity we have to sympathize with others.” [David Hume] This sympathy can be called Love. Love is how we escape the confines of our own mind. We feel our own Love in response to the love we observe in the other. We go from “I think therefore I am ” to “I love, therefore we are.” We are able to understand the thoughts and feelings of our beloved through the operation of our Love. I feel the “Presence” of my departed spouse therefore she still exists. We escape the confines of our own mind into God because God is Love.
    and again on March 25 2019 in
    “Love is all you need”
    Patricia and I were sort of Hippies when we met. We believed in “make love, not war” as a road to a gentler more peaceful, caring life. You didn’t say Love, you lived it. Those who spoke, didn’t Know, those who Knew loved. Put another way: God is Love (God loves all people equally) and dwells within you. You don’t believe, you know!
    Well many of the aspects of hippy culture are back with a vengeance in modern Christianity. It is more than the fashion, more than women in floral maxi dresses with tumbling locks topped with flower crowns, more than men with beards and “man buns”. It is a movement to non dual thinking and meditation.
    The Christian Church is now ready to believe that God is Love – that same Love the hippies embraced. As Fr Richard Rohr says “Oh, gosh! We’ve gone backwards in so many ways. So, I believe the good news really is good news. If we could be given that great act of hope at the beginning, that this universe is going somewhere, and is beloved of God, instead of thinking we’re going to bring people to the love of God by fear, and guilt, and shame. Whatever made us think that would work? And we see right now that it is hasn’t.”
    Jesus Christ was both FULLY man and FULLY God – he loved as we love. God can be grasped and held fast only by love. The hippies had it right all along.

    1. Oh wow thank you so Koch for sharing this powerful powerful reflection. You’re Right – love is all you need. It is everything. I am so moved by your words about your precious Patricia. I wish i would have known her and her beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing her light with me. Hugs and love xox

  9. My dear friend Caralyn

    With your happy smile you look so charming and sweet, my friend 🙂

    Yes, to love is to live and to live is to love…

    Christ said: “Love and everything else will be added unto you…” you started to love yourself, to accept yourself, even with imperfections. You wanted to be perfect in all – but life showed you that man cannot be perfect as there will always be something that is even more perfect. The light of consciousness has touched you and isn’t life = love = light = consciousness? – a metamorphic understandig that has to go through ups and downs to learn, to put life into this understanding? I am really happy that you have made your way, my friend – keep on going 🙂

    When starting to love oneself, the next step should be to start to love all others as we are all from the same source. There is an alternative too: When we start to have love for God, as God is residing in every heart, then we really are able to love everyone and we are included in this love. In this connection: “God loves even the sinner, but not his sins…”

    Warm regards, my dear friend and much love, light and life to you
    Didi

    1. Oh Didi ya are so wonderful, thank you! Yes! God is love and has commanded us to do just that! And yes!! Everyone is included in that love. So powerful and true. Big hugs and love to you my friend xox

  10. I always enjoy your insight! I’m so happy for you. I’m certain that right now there are women who are finding hope through your story. I’ll be praying for you when you come to mind.

    1. Thank you so much Amy!! What a kind thing to say 🙂 thank you for your prayers! Know that you’re in mine too! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Greg! Means a lot! Oh it’s always a great time for self reflection!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you so much Danielle! I fully agree! The greatest of these is love! Hugs and love xox

  11. Haha.. Politics…
    Poly is the mathematical term meaning “Many”. Ticks are blood-sucking parasites.
    Therefore Politics = ……..

    It is certainly true Caralyn. You can’t love someone if you don’t love yourself. But there is a caveat.
    There is a balance. We can’t be self-centered either. There is a thin line.

    I guess the premise is that we need to comfortable and accept ourselves completely for who we are, before we can expect anyone else to do the same. However we should also always be ready to esteem other better than ourselves. The golden rule still and always applies… 🙂

  12. Dear Caralyn
    I am so, so pleased that you are rejoicing in loving and being loved. It is truly wonderful. You’ve made my day!
    I wholeheartedly endorse what you say about accepting yourself as a necessary first step in truly loving others. God wants to pour his love on each and every one of us. I have seen in your blog that you are open to his prompting and will make yourself, not a vessel for that love, but a channel through which his love can flow to many other people.
    Love
    Penny
    xx

  13. Caralyn, when I used to hear Jesus say, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” I would remind him to raise the bar since my self-love was so lacking. I thought I could love others while not loving myself, but, as you say, it is not really love. I am happy you are letting love in–self and other. Great post.

  14. Ah, but you are at peace and contentment with love because ”God is love” (1 John 4:8). Therefore, and if I may, the extreme happiness that you have on the outside is reflective of the inner joy and love that you have in your relationship with the Lord on the inside. Since God is love, it is a love that is unlike any other and one that envelopes us to a point where we become an extension of His love towards others. Let us continue to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we have come to love ourselves. Blessings to you, Ms. Caralyn. 🙏🏻

    1. Amen to that, Darryl – God is love, and therein lies the true source of all joy! Thanks for stopping by and for this beautiful comment! Hugs and love xox

  15. This post is so true. For me, it was more depression and self-harm rather than eating disorder but I realized the same thing and that is what keeps me going now. I always keep telling myself that verse from Psalm 139:
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…
    For me that means I should not harm my body because God loves me and he spent time creating me. I pray all those who are struggling now will find this realization. Best wishes to you and thank you for your courage and inspiration.

  16. Trump is not Jesus. Get out of the cult before it’s too late. He is leading the flock to a dark place.

  17. This is very well said. I grew up around very hate filled people. It was taught that you hate and destroy everybody who in not like yourself. Well, I have seen the results of that. Thank you for being amazing.

    1. oh JB, i’m so sorry to hear that. i’m glad you didn’t adopt the hate-filled ways. you are a light! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  18. So happy that you found love…I strive to let others know that no matter what…you are loved…and try to preach that to myself…definitely would say telling others is easier than believing it yourself at times….

    1. Thank you so much! gosh that really means a lot 🙂 yes, i definitely know the feeling! you are worth it too! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  19. You beginning to glow — you are glowing in your writing. Love is what it is all about — the love of God in Christ Jesus. And your right, that love produces life. That life is the light of men.

    1. oh my gosh, thank you so much 🙂 i definitely can feel my heart glowing these days! have a beautiful weekend! Hugs and love xox

  20. Hi Caralyn! I wrote on insta to Leeza Mangaldas, who does awesome work in India….really awesome work…you may know her. Columbia girl Manhattan, Indian, now a huge huge celebrity in India and always, she’s brilliant. Trust me. I was Brown 07-08 dropout legend for South Asians, Jews etc…banker’s son from the ‘far east’ who just didn’t care. India’s a big place you know. And I loved your blog 3-4 years ago, all the way to today. And now, I’m in a whole. A persona non grata for the South Asian Diaspora community….again…..in New Delhi….and have been here for 5 years after high rolling it in thailand for three at webster bangkok st.louis which was like home….i live for this stuff….but such escaltions…for an old, 31 year old man…with a catholic jesuit education cambridge mission etc etc are too much….i even shared some beautiful christian ideas…i think, i have to forgive myself for eternity, without death, because i intend on living for another 20-25 years, a genuine vision from God, Mary or Hindu Gods and Godesses. It may not be possible now…or…holy matrimony….and a life of eternal servitude…Leeza understands me…we know each other…but i’m a boy…i have sinned against all women…if i have sinned against the south asian community, women, in Great Britain, and America, where I am a known figure….in love and trust…I need a priest…or a jesuit brother…you are my hail mary…please don’t just say thank you…just some words of comfort and advice…almost dying…feminine processes in my life…i am finished…delving deep into byron and hallucinating and thinking things like to the caucuses! from delhi to armenia or georgia…maybe we can meet there..i will pray again…to God…etc.

  21. I just love this… I’ve been battling with insecurities about my body and myself in general but when I went to God this morning even before reading your post, and so I like that I knew, I just had to love myself, be carefree, take risks, be the best I can be, and express my love for myself and others. Your post was a confirmation and I’m glad I waited till today to read this.

    God bless you.

    1. Aw thank you so much! I’m glad this resonated when you!! God is the healer of all!! Hugs and love xox

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