A Time Capsule from 2003

Well, here we are. Thursday. I’ve been home for four of my five days here, and it feels like time has just speed by like a bullet train.

In case you missed Monday’s post, allow me to catch you up in one sentence: my parents just sold my childhood home that they’ve lived in for over 34 years, and I’m in Ohio this week saying goodbye to the house I was born in.

My mom and I have logged hours and hours in the basement going through boxes and boxes of preschool and elementary school artwork, baby clothes, sports memorabilia, newspaper articles and keepsake boxes filled with things from every play/musical/TV show/movie I was in growing up…there were over 18! (If you didn’t know, I was a child actor…which internalized perfectionist tendencies and tying my worth to my performance, which had a direct impact on developing anorexia later in my late teens.)

But I’m proud to say, going through those boxes, I only cried once.

It’s funny, because I was talking with my mom, and she was saying how she was a little nervous/curious about how I would respond emotionally to having to go through all the boxes of memories from my childhood, and from the time during my ulcerative colitis, and also…my anorexia.

And as we sat there on the floor, legs crossed and buried in 18 years of growing up treasures, I realized that today was proof that I have emotionally “moved on” from the pain. Not totally one hundred percent, because I don’t think you can ever fully and completely just leave such a traumatic season behind you. But I have been able to separate myself now, from myself then. And what’s more, is that, I was able to recognize when things were bringing up difficult emotions (like my Senior yearbook from when I was 78 pounds and at death’s door), and I was able to close that box and say…”Next one, mom.”

It’s incredible, actually. And I am so grateful to God — and to be honest, I think it was all the grace poured out upon me from the overwhelming amount of prayers YOU have offered me, reading this (which I am so thankful for!) — But I am so grateful that I was able to look back at my childhood with a loving, accepting heart. There was no bitterness. There was no resentment or even anger. There was only joy. Only celebrating the spunky, precocious little girl who liked collecting rocks and won an Emmy Award when she was still too small to see over the podium and reach the mic.

The only time I got emotional was when I opened the time capsule that I made on the graduation of my 8th grade year, to be opened on my graduation from high school. If you’re new here, I actually never attended my high school graduation, because five days prior, I was forced to go to inpatient treatment across the country for my anorexia. So simply the fact that I was reading a time capsule meant to be opened on the graduation day the Eating Disorder stole from me, put my emotions on red alert.

But what really got me, was the letter written to “future me,” by my father. “You have a gift from God – a gift to bring happiness and good feelings to those around you. You live a loving, caring life. You may get almost straight A’s, maybe you’ll star in a musical or captain a sports team, but that is all secondary to living a life doing the right thing, loving and caring about those around you, making your little piece of this big world a better place. I love you for who you are Caralyn, as you open this, my 18 year old!”

And reading that, knowing all the history that happened — and what I put my sweet father through — between when that letter was written, and when it was intended to be read, my heart simply couldn’t hold back the tears of remorse, tears of regret, tears of what could have been, any longer. But more than any of those tears, were tears of how good my father is.

All of those “maybe dreams” my father mentioned – the straight A’s, the captain of the soccer team, starring in a musical – the irony here, is that, during my high school career, leading up to my eating disorder, I achieved all those things.

And all the while, I was believing that those were the things that made me good. Made me worthy. Each achievement would only raise the bar I was setting for myself ever so higher. Until eventually, I would collapse under the pressure I had put on myself to maintain this standard of perfection that was quite literally killing me.

“All that is secondary…I love you for who you are, Caralyn.”

It’s like my dad knew. It’s like he could see the writing on the wall, and wanted to remind me of what really mattered: my heart. Not anything I could achieve or win or earn. He was speaking life into my spirit: saying the exact words that my broken, striving, ED-gripped heart absolutely would need to hear: I love you for who you are, Caralyn.

What a beautiful earthly example of our Heavenly Father’s love I have in my own father. That is a blessing I know not to take for granted for one single second.

“I love you for who you are.”

It’s been quite the experience, coming face to face with literally, my entire childhood – in boxes – and sifting through the experiences and history that have made me me — for better or for worse.

But I’ll close with this: even though I may not be proud of certain seasons of my past, I can still lovingly embrace and have compassion for that little girl, while simultaneously celebrating that I am not her anymore. Recovery is incredibly nuanced and delicate, and sometimes, moments of growth and grace will surprise you, even 13 years in.

To watch my story, click here:

“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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77 thoughts on “A Time Capsule from 2003

  1. I’ve heard many testimonies at Celebrate Recovery meetings where an either very bad father or a missing one really caused extreme emotional havoc in the life of the speaker. I, like you, were blessed with a wonderful dad. It’s something to cherish and be thankful to God for. I did the best I could with my own two children and never did them harm but my father set the bar pretty high so I feel I could’ve done better. He’s in heaven with mom now but I miss him terribly.

    1. Oh thank you Rollie for sharing your heart. I’m sorry that he’s no longer with us. We were very blessed to say the least. I appreciate you stopping by. Hugs and love xox

  2. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Your Dad was right. You give yourself to the world to make it a better place. Thank you for sharing YOU with the rest of he world. Victoria.

    1. Thank you Victoria. That really means a lot. God works in mysterious ways, and I definitely was supposed to find that letter today. 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Ian, you’re exactly right, they really are. I feel incredibly blessed. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  3. Beauty Beyond Bones, your talk was beyond beautiful & your dad’s letter was a tear jerker too! The world is definitely a better place because you’re in it. Keep shining your bright light of truth to touch & bless the world…💝🙏

    1. Oh my gosh thank you so much!!! You’re seriously too kind. I appreciate you watching the talk!! I am so touched by your words. Hugs and love xox

  4. Such beautiful and wise words from your father! I’ve been guilty of tying self-worth to achievement and your dad’s letter is such a beautiful reminder of what is really important in life. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you friend. You’re so right – loving others and making the queue a better place are definitely the important things to remember. So glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

  5. Love this: What a beautiful earthly example of our Heavenly Father’s love I have in my own father. That is a blessing I know not to take for granted for one single second.

    “I love you for who you are.”

    Blessed have it. I think communicating unconditional love to children is one of the best ways we can reflect Gods love.

    1. Thank you Jamey. I do whole heartedly agree. Loving your child unconditionally and letting them know his cherished that sad to the Father are two incredibly important things in life. Hugs and love xox

  6. I’m glad your walks down memory lane have been fruitful and not damaging. You’ve moved on and become fully Caralyn one again! I believe God moves each of us in ways to fit His purposes. There are instances of this in the Bible. I especially think of the Book of Ruth and how God moved the king to sleeplessness, which ended up bringing him to knowledge of Ruth’s relative, Mordecai amd changing the course of events.

    I think God moved your dad to write those words. I think He kept those words safe in that time capsule until you were ready to read them.

    I’ll echo your dad’s words here. I never knew the actor or athlete. I just came to know a young woman in pain and followed her journey out of that valley. THAT is who I care about!

    1. Hi Jeff! Thank you 🙂 yeah it has definitely been fruitful, not damaging. Great way to put it! I think you’re absolutely right. I really should read Ruth. I know the jist but have never actually sat down and read it front to back. I definitely think He moved my dad too. Wow – what a beautiful thought – keeping them safe until now. Wow. And gosh, thank you Jeff. You are such a great friend and blessing in my life! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Sending hugs to you and your girls! Xox

  7. Caralyn, I have so much catching up to do! I realized at the beginning of the year I had not sufficiently processed the PTSD/trauma of the past 18 months and it manifested itself in an alcohol & drug relapse. A relapse of any substantial time is sure death for me, so I wanted to nip it in the bud and go to inpatient treatment. I’m back and in the best place I have been in a long time. Thank you for continuing to share yourself with us. ~ Sloane

    1. Hi Sloane, oh gosh I am so sorry to hear that but wow that is incredible that you took the powerful action to go take care of it and that you’re in such a good place! Hallelujah!! Cheering for you! That took a lot of strength. Praying for you!! Sending so much love! Hugs and love xox

      1. Your father is an earthly father who has just set a good example of how our Heavenly Father knows our needs, that was very sweet of him and we are also happy that you are happy! By the way the house you’ve grown in looks so beautiful!

    1. Hi Tonya! Oh gosh thank you so much my dear friend! I appreciate your kind words and support. Sending big big hugs! Love you! Xox

  8. Wonderful post. I, also, am proud of you. So wise to move on from your past without ignoring and/or denying it. Good or Bad, our past is part of us; it made us who we are today. Those memories are your “experiences of life and development”. We are suppose to live and learn; that is how we grow. We can look back and realize that God never left us alone he only allowed us to experience and learn. It’s nice to see that you are a “Daddy’s Girl” as I an a “daddy’s girl’s daddy”. Hugs and Love!

    1. Thank you so much!! Gosh you’re incredibly kind to say that. You’re right – our past has made us who we are and are how we grow. Yay! We are definitely blessed to have such great dads!! Hugs and love xox

    1. Oh my gosh Sandi, you’re so kind to say that. Thank you. I am so touched! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Greg! That means a lot! 🥰 have a great weekend! Hugs and love xox

  9. Your faith and your courage are an inspiration to us all. May our Lord continue to strengthen you and guide you throughout your life. He never forsakes us, He never breaks a promise, He never stops loving us, His mercy and forgiveness are everlasting. He told Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, do not be afraid, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

    1. Oh gosh you’re so kind to say that. Truly, I am so touched thank you Myron. You’re absolutely right! He never stops loving us! I love that verse! Hugs and love xox

    1. Awww thank you Ayesha! Yeah it was such a special note. Definitely God helped him write that I think. So glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  10. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your heart and being so humble to share what you went through! The video testimony is incredible and God has really worked wonders through your life! As a Christian who came out of the class A drug world I know that I was stuck in for years – I understand what it’s like to struggle and even escape death, all by the grace of God! Your story is inspiring. God bless you and family.

    1. Thank you friend! I so appreciate your encouraging words. I am so touched that you took the time to watch my video! Thank you! And thank you for sharing your story. You’re right – it’s by God’s grace! God bless you too! Hugs and love xox

  11. So beautiful how you share here, Caralyn. And those words from your father are wonderful. It’s lovely that you’ve been able to go through so many memories a much stronger person. Your incredibly tough experience is a lesson for us all. I think my own (late) father could see my health plummeting, but felt powerless to do anything about it. And I hadn’t acknowledged it was happening either. I just ploughed on. As one does until your body says ‘NOPE’! Thanks so much for sharing with such an open heart. Here’s to you building more precious memories at your parents new home. God’s abundant blessing be with you.💖💕

    1. Oh thank you so much!! And yes – That letter was such a blessing to find. Gosh I am so touched by your wonderfully kind words, and I appreciate your sharing your story. I think sometimes, it’s hard to know what to say or do during really trying moments or seasons. It’s like, we just try to get through one moment at a time. I’ve often talked to my mom about that season and she always said she felt helpless and powerless, like her hands were tied. It is such a tough situation. So glad we’ve both navigated out of that season! Sending so much love and hugs xox

      1. Bless you, thank you. It most definitely is. One moment at a time. And folk around you can really feel powerless to help. I still have chronic illness, but my perspective has greatly changed. So thankful for grace & the love of family. They get you through. Aww & thank you. Love & hugs from here too. Penny (((💖))) xxx

  12. When my Mother and Dad passed away in the 1990s, we found the boxes from our childhoods in their basement. My sisters, six and seven years older than me had notebooks from every grade 1-6, locks of hair from multiple hair cuts, drawings from school and ancient band instruments. My brother, two years older than me, had a couple locks of hair from early haircuts, some report cards from from a couple of his best performances in grade school, and a couple science fair displays,
    By the time I came along, apparently, they figured they had enough mementos and I could piggy back on the siblings’! 😨
    I had one lock of hair from my first haircut and a couple of first grade assignments. 😂
    But there WERE other perks being the “baby” of the family. By high school I got away with murder compared to the restrictions on my siblings! 😉

  13. Oh, I can imagine the memories that you are recalling as you say good-by to this childhood home of yours. Thank you so much for your continued courage and faith. I’m just now battling an addictive mind and heart set that I’ve carried 3-4 decades longer than you. I’m glad you had the courage to start sooner.

  14. As I read your post today, I can see the hand of God and what His mercy looks like. I’ve been following you for awhile now, and you are the epitome of Ezekiel 37:5. You are a beautiful light of God shining into a world of hurt. Thank you for sharing your story, I know it’s not easy, but it is certainly needed. May God continually bless you.

  15. Dear Caralyn
    I found your account deeply moving. I am so glad your healing has been so complete. Your love and gratitude to your father and mother shines through every word.
    Thank you for an inspiring start to Sunday morning!
    Love
    Penny
    xx

  16. Maybe this is your Lenten gift, to give up the chains of the past through the act of cleaning out your childhood home’s basement. That is not to deny the past, but only the slavery which the past can place on us. All those achievements were not the good which your father wished for you. But, using your talents to achieve for a different reason. Joy. – Oscar

  17. I’m bawling. What a blessing from God to have such a steadfast earthly father. There are so many emotions woven through that. God bless your dad for speaking forward into your life- you truly are a blessing to all those you touch with your words. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  18. You have such a wonderful, God-given wisdom. Being able to let go is so healing and I’m so happy you are able to continue to do so. When one has trauma in their lives, it’s natural to try and block it. Going through the keep-sakes your parents kept allowed you to visit the past in a safe space, deal with it, relive it, and accept it flaws and all. How empowering. Thank you, for sharing. 🙏🏻😊

  19. Glad to hear that you have wonderful parents. I understand the pressure of perfectionism: I had to learn to settle for good enough to get anything done.

    1. thank you friend, yes, i really am grateful for such loving parents. I know it is a blessing i shouldn’t take for granted. Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Ekua! i’m so glad they hit home with you 🙂 my pops definitely has a lot of wisdom! Hugs and love xox

  20. What an amazing journey you’ve experienced and I love how you show the goodness of our good, good Father through your life! While you may not be proud of things that happened in the past (we all have those moments), never underestimate how God is using them for good now! To help others who are going through similar life situations you’ve gone through and are brave enough to share! 👏🏻👏🏻

    1. thank you Teresa! I appreciate your kind words. Yes! I truly believe God will bring good from every situation! Hugs and love xox

    1. yes! it really was so powerful to look back with the hindsight i have today. Hugs and love xox

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