Fighting Demons

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Thirteen years, eight months and zero days.

I have been in recovery from anorexia for 13 years and eight months. It was May 18 of 2007 when I began the most rewarding, and also most difficult journey of my life.

And reading that number, it’s easy to assume that recovery must be “old hat” by now. A walk in the park. A blip on the proverbial radar that’s such a distant memory, compared with the clear blue skies on the horizon.

Which…granted, is for the most part pretty accurate. But sometimes, life will throw you a curve ball that will really put your recovery to the test, and sometimes…we’re not as invincible as we may think…even with well over a decade of practice under our belts.

And well, friends…one of those curve balls was thrown my way this weekend. And I wish I could tell you that I hit a home run and smashed that potential trip-up to smithereens, but the fact is…I struck out in slow pitch.

Allow me to set the scene. And let me preface this by saying that the person involved meant absolutely no harm in their words, so please be respectful in the comments section, thank you.

I was at a small gathering with couple friends (COVID-precautions were taken), and my friend pulls me aside and, in a complementary tone, says, “Your bum and your thighs have gotten bigger! You’ve gained weight in your bum and thighs, haven’t you!

And, let me pause, and say that I love this friend to bits, and she was saying this in an “excited for me” kind of way, and not at all in an offensive manner.

But when I heard, specifically the words, “gained weight,” and “thighs…” I have to be really honest, internally, it was like I was shot from a cannon, and catapulted right back into the dungeon, captive to the dark and destructive eating disorder thoughts that plagued me those 13 years ago.

And it’s wild, because, candidly, I have been trying to “fill out” with a more womanly shape recently, if you know what I mean. I’ve cut back my running, been eating more protein and healthy fats, and truthfully, I have been seeing some exciting “results.” For the first time, I’m beginning to lose my 12-year-old boy silhouette, and develop a some curves. And I’ve been loving it – I’ve bought some new clothes and items that accentuate my new womanly features, and it’s been really exciting to feel beautiful. (All sans-scale, I might add.)

But even with that welcoming attitude of the curves, as soon as I heard the words, “bigger thighs” and “gained weight,” all that went out the window, and I really really had to fight that voice of “ED” (aka Eating Disorder) for the rest of the night. We were out to dinner, and for the first time in 13 years, I became aware of what I was eating compared to the other girls. Well, they’re taking half of their meals home in a doggie bag, and you cleaned your plate…what a fat a**.

And I became aware of how my clothes were fitting, and yadda yadda yadda. You get it. The red lights were blinking in the cockpit, and it was a mayday situation.

CODE RED.

By the time I went to bed that night, I had put it behind me, chalked it up to a bad episode, something to move forward and grow from, and continue on in my quest for curves.

But waking up the next morning, it was still on my mind. I was meeting my boyfriend for lunch, and during which, I confided in him what had happened, appologizing if I had seemed “off” or “in my head” the night before, and just told him everything.

And I’ve gotta tell ya, I am just so blessed. He looked me in my eyes and said, “I think you’re beautiful.”

OK – I won’t get gushy, but he is just the best.

Anyway. The reason I’m sharing this tonight, is that, looking back now, a couple days out, emotionally removed from the situation, I’m actually pretty surprised that that comment got to me so much.

I would have hoped I was more bullet proof than that, but I guess when you have a history of starving yourself down to a life-threatening 78 pounds in pursuit of a thigh gap, hearing that you’ve gained weight in your thighs, specifically, I’ve got to give myself a little grace.

I am not invincible. I am not bullet proof, and truthfully, no recovery is.

There will always be that one trigger that will make you fight like hell to cling on for dear life to your recovery, until it passes.

Here’s what really helped me, during this episode.

A) Having supportive people around me. My boyfriend, my parents (who I also called and got the sense talked into me) – they were able to speak truth into me, and reaffirm the Caralyn I am, not the Caralyn I once was.

B) I had the tools to draw from from 13 years of practice – I could feel myself slipping into the “red zone” of listening to that voice of the eating disorder, but I chose to let my actions fight back, and I still cleaned my plate (and ordered extra avocado!) as a way to combat that toxic darkness. (AKA…it did not win!)

C) I was open about my struggle. Before, I would have bottled it up. But I was open with those supportive people, and with God, and welcomed their words of affirmation into my heart.

Finally, and most importantly, I had my eyes wide open for the lesson.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in these 13 years, 8 months and zero days, it’s that God never allows you to experience a struggle, without giving you a pearl of wisdom afterwards…you just have to look for it.

And I definitely got it.

This morning, when I woke up, I was making my usual breakfast, and to be honest, I had to fight back thoughts about the “gained weight” as I cracked my two eggs into the bowl. But I powered through. I may have been rattled, but I would not be derailed.

But after breakfast, I was getting ready for the day, and what do you know….but I had received my “monthly visitor.” (Sorry guys, for the TMI!)

Yes, “Aunt Flo” arrived for the week.

And there it was. That was God reminding me of the absolute greatest gift of recovery: my fertility. For, if you have followed my blog for a while, then you know that it was only in the last year or so, that I have actually menstruated.

Having been at such a dangerously low weight for a drastically sustained period of time, my body did everything it could just to keep me alive. And so it shut off my reproductive system, as is common in severe cases of anorexia, women lose their periods.

But mine had not come back. It took almost 12 years for my body to finally heal enough to be able to support life. And praise God that it did. It is truly a miracle.

But that is what I was reminded of: that incredible miracle of a second chance. That God has healed my body enough to be able to one day, God willing, bring children into this world. And the body can only do that, when it is properly and consistently fed a calorically sound diet….that includes fat and adequate protein. (Two things I was not getting on a vegan diet.)

But that’s a story for a different day.

I think sometimes, a little bit of a feather ruffle is a good thing. It reminds us of the preciousness and sacredness of that which we may have begun to take for granted.

But to my recovery warriors out there, know that you can overcome a trip up, too. You have the power to choose which thoughts you listen to — and even more, how you respond to those thoughts.

Because, yes – even after 13.8 years, those thoughts can still weasel their way into your mind. But you have the tools to fight back. And giving yourself the grace and patience when it happens, is such a gift.

Recovery is a long and winding journey, but in the long run, struggle only strengthens you, and fortifies your suit of armor. Because yes, it’s a fight. And you will win.

“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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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

129 thoughts on “Fighting Demons

  1. BBB… I think we all have a skeleton in our closet and a demon that knows us all too well. Don’t lose sight of the wonderful advice you have here at your blog! Stay strong! There are so many who look forward to your writings including me. Blessings.
    Julia

    1. Thank you Julia for this wonderful encouragement. You’re right – we’ve all got ‘em! And we can overcome! Thank you again, my friend. Means a lot. Hugs and love xox

      1. As I was reading this that is what came to me…You OVERCAME and you continue to OVERCOME…Keep your eyes focused Above and He will see you through…Lots of love n hugs to ya ♥️🤗

    1. Thank you Alice! haha yes!!! those are definitely two blessings! the avocado especially 😉 truly though, thank you 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. This is true, thankfully, God is always closer! 🙂 Thanks for stoppign by! Hugs and love xox

  2. God is good. It was a wonderful reminder that how many ever years of fighting those demons and overcoming them you have, it is God that sustains and carries you through every single one of those moments for you be victorious over it. And most important is that you do realise and recognise that you cannot do it without Him or the people He has placed in your life. But these moments bring all that in the forefront and makes you just thank God so much more.

    1. Oh yes, He is so so good! thank you for sharing your heart on that. You’re right – He is our sustainer! amen! glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  3. You just need to find that place where you are comfortable with yourself. I think you are adorable. If I was a few years younger, you wouldn’t have time to worry about such… but alas, I am sure you aren’t interested in a 72 year old.. lol…
    God bless you

    1. You’re so right about that – we have to be comfortable in our own skin! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  4. I say this in all purity as your brother in Christ, you are a beautiful & strong young woman! I’m so glad you talked about it with friends and family, and so glad you kept eating as you should! Honestly, with your healthy athletic body type, you do not ever have to be concerned about being overweight. You look great & you always will! Praying for you sister! God bless you!

    1. thank you Ryan, that really means a lot!! yes – i am very blessed to have such wonderful support around me! thank you for the prayers! Hugs and love xox

  5. Although I’ve never had an ED I have fought with that same voice in my head. All through my younger years until the age of 24 I was thin. I was literally a double 0 and many people called me anorexic and bulemic. Of course 15 years and 4 kids later, i am far from that double zero. I can definitely relate to your moments. I’m so glad that you are a true warrior, fighter and see that you’re worth is much more than thigh gap and abs. Much love and grace to you.

    1. thank you for sharing your story – yes, that voice takes many forms for many people, but the message is always the same: cutting down our self worth and trying to lure us away from Jesus and into darkness. Thank you for the kindness! Hugs and love xox

  6. So thankful for your authenticity. So many are in intense life’s struggles in this time we live. The number #1 action I find is to keep drawing from my relationship with God when my emotional reserve runs low. He accomplishes what I can not in my battles.

    1. Hi Judith! thank you so much for your kind words. You’re right – we can draw on God’s strength! Hugs and love xox

  7. Thank you for sharing! It is a lifelong battle. Though lately not too bad here since I’ve given up dating and don’t feel my body is constantly judged by others. Also… I had 2 beautiful children after recovery, just fyi 💜

    1. Hi Paula! thank you for sharing your heart – a lifelong battle indeed. And oh my gosh, what a blessing! Two children!!!! that is so amazing – God is good!!!! thanks for that encouragement! hugs and so much love xox

    1. Hi Greg, thank you for your kind words, I appreciate that! yeah sometimes we just get tripped up! Hugs and love xox

  8. What a blessing to have a friend speak truthfully to you at this time. God helped you build your toolbox. You now live in a “Rat Park” rather than feeling isolated. You didn’t need to hide from the comments. You took ’em full frontal, accepted them for what they are, and categorized them in a healthy way. What a great victory your friend, God and you achieved. This gives you confidence to continue your successful and healthy journey. Much love and aloha!

    1. Hi friend, aloha! thank you for such kind words. You’re right. i have really be blessed with an incredible support system. God is so good. Thank you! yes – another arrow in the quiver for the battle! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Jeff, yes, for sure. God has really blessed me with people in my life (present company included 🙂 ) who have really encouraged and affirmed me, and sustained my in prayer. It is one of the things i am most grateful for. thank you, my friend. you truly are a blessing. hugs to you and your girls. ox

  9. Wow this hits home. Got turned upside down and sent into a place of self-loathing recently after having come into so much grace-filled acceptance. But I have been coming back to the truth of who God says I am, which is what got me through in the first place, and your post reminded me to be open with trustworthy people to help reflect that truth back. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I am so thrilled for the way your body has been restored. You carry so much of His beauty, and it goes soooo much deeper than what can be seen in the outside. ❤️

    1. Hi Kata, thank you for sharing your story. Amen – we are who God says we are – no one else, not any voice or tape we have in our mind, who God says, and He says that we are a precious daughter, and that He is well pleased! Oh gosh, your words are so kind, and I am very touched. God bless! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi Ian, oh gosh thank you friend. you’re right – God has it all figured out and under control. it’s just our job to trust Him! Hugs and love xox

  10. I know exactly what you mean about how these comments can hit you so hard. When people tell you “you look so good” it’s like “shut up and don’t tell me how I look because I’m trying not to think about it anymore!” But really you are very beautiful and so strong. You are so right that as a woman you have to own your womanly body especially as you mentioned the most precious thing about being a woman. Praying hard for you.

    1. Hi friend, thank you so much for your kind words. You’re so right – in recovery, comments – even well meaning — can be taken in so many different ways. Amen – the ability to have kids is something i mourned for so long, and now that i’ve restored that, I could not have more gratitude. gotta remember that always! really appreciate the prayers! know that you’re in mine too! Hugs and love xox

  11. I know I have struggled with weight issues throughout life and with body image. It’s a hard thing to overcome. And even though after all these years I still have triggers to certain words or actions taken. Your beautiful and your value is worth more than rubies. Thank you for sharing!

    1. thank you for sharing your heart on this, Bethany. amen – we are worth more than rubies! We are precious daughters of the King! really appreciate your encouragement! Hugs and love xox

  12. Caralyn,
    You are beautiful in all the many stages and forms, shapes, you may take throughout your life. You are perfectly and beautifully made, specifically designed in every detail to the most minute particle, by God himself. How glorious is that? How perfect are we all? Bonus point….you have a gorgeous spirit and heart.
    If I may share something with you for the rough patches you might face….It’d be the christian book “Do you think I’m Beautiful” by Angela Thomas.
    Also, My daughter was featured on the web series by Bancroft, Brand New Me. Though her struggle being the exact opposite of yours, it’s her journey of learning to love and accept herself without qualifiers that I think will nourish your soul. Plus, you can see me in ot too…in all my oldness. Hahaha
    Hugs to you sweet friend. You are amazing and a daily inspiration to us all.
    Link to her 5 min story
    https://youtu.be/GLm6q_RT8Ws

    1. Hi Laura, oh my gosh, i am so touched by your kindness, thank you friend. You’re so right – we are handmade masterpieces of the King, seen and known and with a path and purpose set before us! thank you for the recco! i will have to check tha tbook out. And my my gosh, that is AMAZING! congrats to your daughter. I cannot wait to watch! Sending you so much love and hugs xox

  13. Life is what it is, my dear, in spite of it all. In spite of our best intentions, in spite of our victories to date, in spite of that which we so desperately wish it was, or is or could be. You’re still a survivor! And that is good. Be kind to yourself. Be compassionate for yourself and march onwards. No real human being will ever fault you for being, as we all are, mere mortals on this plane of existence that we call Life. Take good care. 💜

    1. Hi Nelson, thank you for your kind words of encouragement. you’re so right – we are all deserving of that self-kindness and self-compassion. amen to that. thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you friend, I appreciate that. Yeah – true statement! have a great night! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you got your prayers and kindness. And – our help comes from the maker of heaven and earth! Hugs and love xox

  14. Yay!! Praise God!!! He is your strength and source of peace and joy! Perhaps we need the reminders now and then of our dependence on Him, we can feel maybe that we are doing pretty well on our own. And it is perhaps a great tool to bind in relatively new and old relationships. God is strong consistently and I praise God He had His care of you! I love you as always, beautiful friend. Hugs!! XO 😄 ❤

    1. Hi my sweet friend! Aw thank you for this beautiful encouragement! So so true, He is our strength and hope! We can fully rely on Him, what a gift. Love you Tonya! Thanks for being such A wonderful friend! Hugs and love xox

  15. Thank you, that’s all I can say right now, Thank you for being a source of encouragement and for blessing my life this morning with your words. Thank you,

    1. Oh friend, thank you so much. I’m glad this resonated with you!! Keep shining! Hugs and love xox

  16. One never really knows how a person feels about their body, or the history they may have..so it’s probably safer to keep the comments more general like “you look great” or “I’ve never seen you look better”..ALSO… always a good idea to keep negative comments to yourself.. My trigger? “You look tired.” …….reallly? UGH..what does THAT mean??

    1. You’re right about that. Haha, right?! I feel the same, Cindy! Tanks so much for stopping by. Hope you have a wonderful day! Hugs and love xox

  17. Ah Caralyn after 37 years in recovery I realize never recovered as you know. You did well no matter how it felt. Thank God we have a Savior who – well will let you look it up Hebrews 4:15. I am sure you have read that many times. You continue to be a witness, an example and and inspiration to many, myself included. Thanks for being around. John

    1. Thank you John for this powerful response. I am so inspired by your 37 years – that is something to truly celebrate. Amen – He Knows our thoughts and hearts! Hugs and love xox

  18. You look alright to me, and i dare say you also look a bit of ok to you’re man😊. May I ask for your prayers as the Covid lockdown that is covering the UK is getting me down. Thanks

    1. Thank you Kenneth, you’re kind to say that! And absolutely – I will keep you and your country in my prayers! Hugs and love xox

  19. We all have demons that we are fighting, and the Lord is fighting right beside us. May He shield you from the demons that drag you down and remind you that He loves you always, no matter what.

    1. Thank you Amy for this powerful reminder. You’re absolutely right – He is our strength and is always by our side!!! Hugs and love xox

  20. You and Steven remain on my daily “prayer walk” when Jesus and I wind our way up the coast to NY.
    Another friend in recovery from anorexia is worried about her fertility, but she reads your blog and will be greatly encouraged by this. love and prayers, c.a.

    1. Oh gosh, thank you for keeping us in your prayers!! That seriously means so much. Oh yes – there is absolutely hope to be found! I will pray for her!! So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

      1. Her name us Onon, in UB, Mongolia. She us like a daughter to us and was beginning recovery when she and her husband visited in Jan, 2019. A faithful young woman of God along with her believing husband. We’ll have to have coffee together after the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. 🙂😊

  21. Thank you for sharing this! I’m so glad you have a support system that you feel comfortable opening up to – that is everything sometimes! And I’m so happy that you have received that proverbial second chance – that’s so exciting! Thoughts and prayers!

  22. Caralyn, It has been my experience, that recovery isn’t a linear path. I believe that we have these nagging flaws that keep us humble before God, He knows our heart and struggles, He leaves them in my opinion to be better able to use us to convey His message of salvation and redemption from our sin. It’s a delightful journey with the proper attitude and traveling Companion

  23. Caralyn, the point isn’t whether or not we’re attacked by the enemy. The victory is how we respond. You didn’t stop, but fought through the fear and opened yourself to friends and family. You handled that perfectly! Looks like you can take whatever the enemy throws your way. And you’re sharing it with others so they can be victorious too. Very well done! So proud of you Friend! Praying for you as always. 🤗💛

  24. Absolutely love this post, i love posts where people can be truthfully honest and open about their struggles in life. Congratulations on how you handled the situation, i think you are very brave and your support system is fantastic. Just keep your head high and straighten that crown. 👸

  25. Like us all who are in recovery from whatever demons aka triggers lurk wherever you survived through it. Your spirit triumphed. Congratulations for being perfectly imperfect. Proud of you.

  26. All of us in recovery run smack dab into a wall of temptation to relapse from time to time. The impact juggles our brain and empties it of wisdom sometimes. That’s when the only help available comes from fixing our eyes on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and asking Him to rescue us from ourselves. Again… He’ll never fail us. So glad to hear you saw through your emotions and followed our Redeemer’s guidance.

  27. Caralyn: First and foremost, I am so glad you realized your friend wasn’t saying something with a malicious intent. It happens to the best of us– trying to say the ‘right’ thing, but missing the mark. After my beloved Mom passed, so many people told me “she was in a better place.” Though I wholeheartedly believe that, I wanted to smack them! I had to remember they had the best of intentions and were only trying to help.

    I had a friend not too long ago offer to take me out for a night of cocktails and she’d pay for the Uber. That might sound relatively harmless, but I am an addict. If I were to get intoxicated, who knows what poor decisions I would make that would lead me down the road to worse things? I know she meant well and was trying to have fun and be carefree….but you just always have to be on guard.

    ~ Sloane

  28. Sis’, you are in wonderful shape and keep on going. 🙂 Now, compared to you, you are in more shape than myself. Those words from your friend were straight compliments and had said nothing wrong. So kudos to them as well. To be honest with you, the way that you are is the ideal kind of way that our doctor plans to see from both my mother and myself. Even while I’m speaking to you right now, my mom is waiting for our exercise equipment to be delivered.

    On our side of the spectrum, having ‘thighs’ and a ‘behind’ is what is expected from our family and friends. Why? I never had a clue as a child, but believe me, you are doing everything right. From making your home-made meals to walking up beautiful trails to see wonder sights, I applaud you as well. As for us, we’re trying to get through our MS challenges together.

    Stay strong, Sis’, and congrats on your healthy lifestyle from your previous addiction. Say “Yes, I did it”, because you really have. 🙂

  29. Well done, and praise God. You have come so far, and you will continue to get stronger. I can relate in a different way in that many things can randomly trigger complex PTSD and ‘normal’ everyday things can threaten to put me ‘back there’. But then I remember I have tools that I can use, and most of all God and His Word speaking Truth – the same that He has for all of us – “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. God bless.

  30. God has always had great thoughts towards you. Let Him be glorified for that. You played an important role however, you took a hold of His promises towards you and pulled into existence. Let that character value extend to others. That is your portion bones. \O/

  31. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability in this post (as always) Caralyn! Even though it’s been almost 4 years since God freed me from an eating disorder, the devil still tempts me. But I am reminded that in my weakness His strength is perfect. Remember your freedom and be blessed! 💙

    1. aw thank you so much Tjane! I really appreciate that 🙂 you made me smile! Hugs and love xox

  32. Wonderfully said, lady. 🌻
    Thank you for your transparency. I love that about you.
    I get triggered sometimes too about my addiction.
    It happens.
    It’s gonna keep happening on occasion.
    I mean, right?
    We may be innocent as doves
    But we’re also street smart as serpents.
    Pat.pat.pat. Good on you.

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I really appreciate your kind words and for sharing your own experience. glad this resonated with you. Hugs and love xox

    1. oh thank you so much Brittany! I’m so glad this resonated with you! 🙂 really means a lot!! Hugs and love xox

    1. oh my gosh girl you are on a reading roll! thank you so much. i agree – Jesus is our victor! Hugs and love xox

  33. 28 Jan 2021 – Weeping

    Flattened like a dog poop under tread,
    flattened like a corn chip in your bed,
    flattened like the dirt dropped on the dead,
    that’s how the ambush feels inside your head.

    Flattened like a post that earns no likes,
    flattened like a batter out of strikes,
    flattened like the grass where thousands hike,
    your heart abandoned on a bed of spikes.

    Bouncing like a backyard trampoline,
    bouncing like a tear washed jumping bean,
    bouncing when The Lover intervenes,
    weeping from a kiss no one can see!

    ~

    1. Aw, thank you. You’re always such a wonderful source of positivity and encouragement. I just want you to know how much I appreciate it and how grateful I am for it! Hugs and love xox

  34. Such a strong woman you are! Triggers and Tools – the two T’s. And of course the third is Trauma but she’s a you-know-what so we’ll categorize her separately. I have found (after years of being overwhelmed by triggers) that the best thing you can do is know what puts you over the edge (triggers) and to fight back (tools). We are imperfect and sensitive beings – sometimes we don’t know a trigger until it knocks us on our butt but, if we have that support network, it buys us time to add the new trigger to list and be better prepared in the future. That’s a long way of saying, I’m so glad that you have the power to overcome those moments and deal with them in a healthy way! Cue Borat, Great success! : )

    1. Gosh you’re on a reading roll! Thank you so much for your powerful words. I love the T’s you’ve share. You’re absolutely *absolutely* right. And amen – a support system is Vital for recovery, for life, for thriving!! Sending so much love and hugs to you! Xox

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