It’s a strange thing, time. Especially in recovery from an eating disorder.
It’s almost as if I’ve lived two different lives. So much so, that most days, I forget about that dark history in my past, to the point that it feels like an entirely different lifetime altogether.
I’m living my life, thriving, joyful, loving people and life, and basking in the freedom that comes from an eating disorder-free life…frankly, I don’t have the time to sit and ponder what once was – nor do I want to, when the present is so dang wonderful!
But sometimes there are things that will spark a memory.
If you follow my Instagram, @beauty.beyond.bones — (and I would love it if you did) — then you know that I post a lot of insight into my everyday life. There is a large, LARGE recovery community on social media, and I’ve found it’s a really great – and fun – way to connect with people, in a personal way.
And so this weekend, I was sharing all about the brunch I was hosting with my boyfriend at his new apartment with another couple. I shared the food I was making, and a bunch of fun candid shots from the brunch — which lasted 14 HOURS by the way!! (We had brunch, then seconds, then cocktail happy hour at sunset, then a movie, then Thai food delivery, then board games and champagne.)
And that evening…not going to lie, I was encouraged by a little liquid courage…I posted this Instagram story to cap off the night:
And friends, when I say this caused a flood of responses, I mean it.
People sharing with me their stories, and how my blog has resonated with their journeys…it was not only incredibly humbling, but it also sparked a memory that I hadn’t thought about…honestly, ever.
And let me start out by saying, I’m truly not trying to “toot my own horn” here or anything, I’m just setting the stage with necessary information.
You see, if I’m being incredibly honest, I am, most days, fending off this heavy doubt about the path I’ve chosen for my life: particularly, this blog. All of my friends have these flashy New York City jobs that allow them to take fancy vacations, and always be buying the newest, latest fashions. And I frankly, can’t do that, because I’ve chosen to go the route of blogging…because of one very specific reason: because I believe it is my mission.
Going through my anorexia some 13 years ago now, there were no resources available – none for me, none for my loved ones – and so I knew that, coming out of it, I needed to help create those resources, and be a source of hope and encouragement for those going through the same darkness I knew all too well. God brought me through, and I feel I have been called to then “pay it forward.” And every Sunday, at Church, I pray for God to provide for me so that I can continue to do this personally meaningful work, I believe is my mission.
But, okay — back to the story…these responses were all talking about how integral my blog has been to their recovery, and how seeing that I “made it” gives them hope. They truly made me cry with gratitude, and I know, that it was God affirming my vocationally discouraged heart.
But reading these replies reminded me of my time at inpatient — a time that, to be honest, I have pretty much blocked from my mind. Not because it was horrific — though it was, and not because it was traumatic — though it was, and not because I hated it — though I did at times…but because dwelling on it doesn’t serve me. Dwelling on those dark memories keeps me there, and I am free. I am flourishing in the now, in the present, in my ED-free existence.
But I was reminded of a very specific nurse at inpatient. Nurses run a tight ship there. If you recall, in this video I shared how my first day, they took me to a back room, stripped me down and did a total body scan for signs of self mutilation or self harm. (Like I said, lovely place). But the nurses there, they’re not messing around.
But there was one in particular, we’ll call her CJ, who was a little different. She had a short, jet black pixie cut, huge biceps, and was covered in tattoos. And she was real. She was authentic. Though she had a “no BS” attitude, there was a compassion in her eyes that made you feel safe, and seen and understood.
Because she had also battled her own eating disorder.
She battled bulimia. Went to rehab. Got better. And made it her life’s work to work at an eating disorder inpatient treatment facility to help those going through the same thing. Sure, she could have been a therapist (and a great one), or a dietician, etc. But she wanted to be a boots-on-the-ground, comrade-in-the-trenches, ally for girls walking through the absolute most terrifying, and simultaneously most important battle of and for their lives.
I hadn’t thought about CJ in literally 13 years. And I just remember how much I respected her, and also how much my fellow inpatient girls respected her too.
I think sometimes, we just need to know that it’s possible. I think we need to know that the Herculean effort that we’re undertaking is going to pay out, and in dividends. CJ was that for me. And I pray that I can be that for someone else.
So that is why I share embarassing videos of me living my actual, ED-free life on Instagram. (Wait until you see the doosey I’m going to post tomorrow from Christmas…warning: there is dancing hahah). And that is why I share such personal information on the Internet…things that literally 90% of my friends don’t even know. I share because sometimes, all it takes is a tiny speck of hope that a) you’re not alone, and b) you can do it, too.
So anyway…I’m not exactly sure why this was put on my heart tonight, but I just wanted to share about how CJ was brought to mind this weekend. So many times, I’ve wanted to reach out to her, to thank her for being the encouragement I needed during that pivotal time (my therapist too), but because of patient/doctor confidentiality, I have no way to get their contact information.
So I guess, this was me making a public declaration of gratitude.
Have a wonderful Monday, friends. And remember, whatever difficult road you’re walking right now, you are not alone. And there are better, brighter days ahead. I promise you that. Because if I can do it, you can do it.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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.
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