An Ally in Trench Warfare

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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.)

sunset lighting

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.

Why?

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

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51 thoughts on “An Ally in Trench Warfare

    1. Hahah oh my gosh it was so much fun. A marathon. And I’m definitely still exhausted. But so worth it! I’m going to share the French toast casserole I made. It was THE BOMB. thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  1. My first question is whether you’ve been back in contact with that in-patient clinic. Are they aware of BBB? Do they know that one of their own made it and is a boon to other ED sufferers? I understand how it might be unpleasant to “go back there,’ but it might be nice to say thanks; here’s what you healed me for. Just a thought.

    I understand the feeling of the humbling joy you get from all those responses. In a way it’s like being a famous actress, recognized wherever you go. You can’t help but appreciate everyone who enjoys your work. Except this “fame” is so much more meaningful than a mere acting career!

    I’m so glad you posted the video again! I know you did all the heavy lifting and suffered the anxiety of “What have I gotten myself into,” but I can’t help having a little satisfaction at having been a part of that. I’m just grateful that I was able to get you the platform here and that we could live-stream and record it.

    I never got to have an acting career, so I sort of identify with that feeling of ambivalence. But God has given me a much richer life for it. He’s done the same for you and continues to do so. I’m grateful for your blogging – I would never have made such a great friend!

    I feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll sign off here! Love and hugs to you and yours!

    1. Hi Jeff! Yes – a humbling joy! That’s exactly what it is! That was such a blessing at your church. Thank you again for facilitating that!! To answer your question, I haven’t actually reached out to them. Mainly because when I first started the blog I didn’t actually give a glowing review of the facility. (Never by name, of course.) but I feel a little sheepish now. Haha but you’re right – I should definitely at least try. Throw a line as they say. And gosh, thanks for saying that. It’s always so meaningful to hear from EDwarriors. It makes me thank God that somehow our paths crossed. Speaking of paths crossing, I am so grateful that ours did!! You’re a great friend, and what a joy and blessing that is too! Have a wonderful week, Jeff! Thanks for sharing your wisdom! Sending you and your girls hugs!!

  2. You Go Girl! You have a powerful testimony of God’s amazing grace in your life. You are a bright light that shines for people that are in a dark place. That light along with your voice proclaims the way out and into freedom and joy. You’re amazing. Keep it up.

    1. aw thank you M, what a kind thing to say! i am seriously so touched 🙂 God is good and I literally owe Him my life!!! big hugs to you xox

    1. Thank you Greg, I appreciate that. That’s the beautiful thing about community – we’re all there for each other! 🙂 hope you have a wonderful week! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw thank you Paula, you are too kind! I admire YOU!! thanks for making me smile 🙂 have a lovely night! Hugs and love xox

  3. Caralyn your story brought tears to my eyes. There’s nothing God cannot do. Your courage and complete surrender is a strong message for others and as you know something you can never forget. I agree your life even the struggle of your active ED is a miracle only Jesus could perform. Thanks for your continued ministry. I remain impressed. John

    1. Hi John, oh gosh, thank you so much. I’m so glad it resonated with you! Amen! All things are possible for God! He is in the business of miracles, indeed. I am so humbled and touched by your generous words. Thank you, my friend. you are a blessing to me! Hugs and love xox

  4. “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.”
    I needed to hear this. Thanks Caralyn, you’re such a blessing and encouragement!
    -Annalee

    1. Hi Annalee, thank you so much for saying that. I’m so glad this hit home with you tonight, my friend. please know that you are in my prayers! God’s got you!!!! sending big big hugs xox

  5. Well Caralyn… Currently looking at the condition your country is in politically and the efforts “Big Tech” are going to in order to silence those who dare to speak up against the tyranny to come, it would be a 100% human tendency to look at everything and say, “Am I doing the right thing?” It would be the same even if those things weren’t happening. Only a completely sane person will ask such a question. Why? Because not many would be willing to do what you are doing. They think about it; but never act on it.

    I will say that in today’s world, at any time you will be called to give an answer; for your faith, the hope you have, your decisions, your choices, etc. In today’s world, you will be asked – even if you didn’t have the blog. Why? Social media. It puts our lives on display. But now, because you have the blog; there’s more pressure.. more eyes are on you and on your life.

    To deal with this won’t be easy and I am actually amazed at how you have been handling it. I’m sure that not all the comments are good ones. Your honesty is what will keep you sane here. It is what will keep your real audience; it is what gives your blog its character.

    I say that you should continue on the road that you are on. Sometimes it might sound daunting or difficult, but as you said, you are not alone in this. There are those who identify with you and those like me that support you; even though we have never been through what you have.

    1. Hi friend, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. it is scary to see the actions of Big Tech this past week. Enough to make one shake in their boots! you’re right – social media is going to bring to focus how we live our lives, and as we’ve seen, christians, reublicans, and those who have traditional moral values are being shunned. thanks for your support! Hugs and love xox

  6. “Dwelling on dark memories keeps you there.” How true.

    We must keep moving forward into what God has next for us, but never forget what He’s brought us through.

    Excellent post about your passion to help others! Blessings.

    1. thank you so much David. Yes – can’t dwell on the dark – gotta keep our eyes fixed on God! thanks for your encouraging words! Hugs and love xox

  7. Anorexia – My Story, I think that’s when i started following you cause i remember thinking the balls you had (if you pardon the expression) to tell your story to an audience & on video. I’m glad your a positive person that looks forward. After all you got a man to take care off now. Lol!

    1. thank you Kenneth, that is really kind to you to say! haha. – don’t mind at all! (I grew up with two older brothers, so phrases like that don’t phase this kid sister! haha) thanks again for the encouragement! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw, thank you for sharing that!!! you are too kind. hope you’re having a great week! Hugs and love xox

  8. We who follow Jesus are promised peace and joy such as “the world” cannot know. So we cannot live in the pains of the past, but we must not forget them either. Father’s steadfast love never ends and His mercies are new every morning. love and prayers for you and Steven, c.a.
    ://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lamentations+3%3A19-23&version=ESV

    1. Thank you friend! you’re right about that – His love never ends. and i love how you called it steadfast — that is EXACTLY what it is! How grateful am I for those mercies!! thank you for your prayers, C.A! i will pass that along to Steven, i know it will mean a lot to him too! Hugs and love xox

  9. Caralyn, you are such an inspiration. I see your ED and my drug addiction as our ‘clouds.’ They were horrible, dark, destructive clouds that loomed over our heads until we found the sunshine. Even though there are different types of clouds…at the end of the day, a cloud is a cloud. We have known suffering and it is our mission to help others find the light.
    Keep up your amazing work. ~ Sloane

    1. oh gosh, Sloane, you are too kind. thank you so much! you’re right – we both have certainly had our clouds, but gosh – the skies are clear now! and filled with light! cheering you on, my friend! Hugs and love xox

    1. You’re so welcome!! Thank you friend! I’m so glad our paths crossed! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh my gosh awesome! thank you Kara! I hope it’s helpful for you!!! 🙂 Have a wonderful day and happy reading! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

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