The Power of Love in Recovery

Welp, I’m going to share something tonight that, maaaaybe I shouldn’t.

Perhaps this is something that I should be keeping a little closer to my chest, but I am feeling so moved in my heart to express, that I can only take that as the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

As many of you know, I was in Ohio this weekend visiting my family with my special gentleman, Steven. It has been, in a word – spectacular. If you’ve been following along on Instagram (@beauty.beyond.bones), then you will have seen the videos of my parents’ new home and all the adventures we’ve been having.

I took Steven to the airport yesterday evening, and when I came home, my mom and I went and sat down by the river for some girl chat, and wouldn’t you know…the conversation, of course, turned to he and I. And to my surprise, I became so overwhelmed with emotion, I just started crying. The waterworks were absolutely flowing!

“Mom, he changed my life.”

One thing that isn’t talked about in recovery communities, is devastating toll eating disorders take on your heart.

And I’m not talking about the physical damage…which, in many cases is great.

But rather, the emotional and spiritual harm, that can take…in my case, over a decade to overcome.

Yesterday, sitting with my mom overlooking the water, some of the deepest parts of my soul brought themselves to the surface.

“I never thought I would be able to love.”

The anorexia, and the destructive messages that played on repeat in my head — that I was unworthy of love, needing to be perfect to be loved, and a burden to those around me — those lies that plummeted me to the depths of that darkness, down to 78 pounds, a shell of myself, isolated and alone….those messages do a number on your psyche, even after you put the weight on and are “healed.”

That mindset of crushing self-oppression is nearly impossible to fully shake, and for over 10 years, I never allowed anyone to get truly close to me.

If he saw who I really am, and what I’ve done, he’d never love me. My history is too broken – I’m too broken.

The mind, even in full recovery, can be a dark and desolate place.

All it took was one person to come into my life, and shatter those lies and relentless messages of unworthiness, and show me that, not only am I loveable, but I am loved.

Steven did that for me.

And dang it, I’m crying again, sitting here typing this!

I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. I don’t have to hide or be ashamed of my past. I have never felt more free, more seen, or more beautiful than I do right now.

It turns out that love is the difference between a full life, and an overflowing life.

Because my life was full – even though I had written love out of the picture for myself, I still had my friends, my faith, a full social calendar, my job, my passions.

But with love, those things are all amplified. The sky is bluer, food tastes better, mornings are filled with excitement at what the day will bring, and the depth of gratitude in my heart has reached new levels.

I was walking into my lobby the other day, and I said “hi” to my door man, and he looked at me and said, “Caralyn, you’re like a breath of fresh air! I don’t know how you do it, but you’re always so bright and cheerful!”

And honestly, it’s because of love.

I wake up happy. And I wake up grateful to be alive.

And that is what I pray for every single person reading this, especially those who are still trapped in the isolated existence of an eating disorder, addiction or other mental prison.

I could not dream that this life was possible for me. I couldn’t fathom it. But it is – more than my wildest imagination.

So. I’m not going to apologize for the extra gushy post tonight. God has created my heart. And I’d like to think that, for all the years my heart spent in that stone-cold, impenetrable fortress-mode, it’s just making up for lost time, now.

Thanks for sharing in the joy with me. Because if it weren’t for you, reading this blog, and the healing it has brought about…I fully believe God has – through this blog – has been working on my heart, allowing me to get to the beautiful place I am today. So thank you for being part of that journey.

“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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118 thoughts on “The Power of Love in Recovery

    1. thank you Gerry! 🙂 I appreciate that! haha – gushing away over here! haha Hugs and love xox

    1. you are so right about that. thank you for your kind words!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  1. Gush all you like! It’s wonderful to read about your journey. I’ll spare you the details, but I can relate to your feelings of self-negativity. Thank God that in Jesus Christ, we are made new!

    1. hahah thank you Drew! I’m glad it struck a chord with you! Amen! In Him we are all made new!! Hugs and love xox

  2. Amen, Caralyn! Love is what life is all about! God’s love for us, and loving each other and God in return. So happy for you two! God bless your relationship forever!

    1. aw Ryan, thank you so much! You’re so right about that! God is love, and it’s absolutely what life is all about!!! thank you 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Mindy!!! hahah I would have to agree with you there 🙂 major cutie! I appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you Emily! I’m so glad it made you smile! amen to that! Hugs and love xox

  3. Caralyn – I’m shedding happy tears reading this post. God bless you and Steven. You’re a beautiful couple!

    Elaine Riate Pham

    1. awww, Elaine, you’re the greatest. thank you for sharing in the joy with me! you’re a great friend!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. You were absolutely right, Ian! Thank you for cheering us on! Hugs and love xox

    1. aw thank you so much Jolie! 🙂 God has definitely been so generous! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  4. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    8 Love never fails.

    13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. — 1 Corinthians 13

    1. Hi Myron, gosh these are beautiful verses! thank you so much for sharing! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much Jim for your prayers. I will join you in them! Hugs and love xox

  5. I don’t know you except for your blog. But, I can see your beautiful heart on full display. I am so proud of you for having the courage and the willingness to first look at and then deal with those heart issues that were killing you. God has a marvelous way of not only restoring our souls (if we allow it), but then restoring those things that have been lost or that we think we could never have. You are so worth loving and you ALWAYS have been. I am so happy for you. I love seeing the joy on your face in the pictures you post. God is a really, really good God.

    1. Thank you so much M for your wonderfully kind words, and for sharing in the joy with me! This response really touched my heart. gosh – you rock. thank you, friend! Hugs and love xox

  6. Caralyn, I don’t see a problem with sharing this. My impression is that this is the least talked-about part of recovery…if it’s talked about at all. You’re doing a great service to your readers. It is also why I think you should develop a second presentation, a follow up on the importance of learning to accept love and how critical it is.

    Love & hugs – Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff! Aw, thank you, my friend. You hit the nail on the head: this just isn’t talked about. But I honestly think it’s so important, and SO life/recovery changing!! And that really is such an awesome idea about a talk about it. because it has been the catalyst for a whole different level of recovery i never thought possible. Not to mention, love is something that EVERYONE can relate to in such a personal way. Also – my mom said, “Oh you should read Jeff’s idea! It’s a great one!” hahha so thank you!! 🙂 Hope you and your girls are having a great week so far! Hugs and love xox

      1. As you’ve always said, everyone is recovering from something. Perhaps everyone is also afraid of love and being vulnerable. Once COVID dies down, I’d be willing to see if Pr. Neugebauer would be interested in having you back to speak on this.

    1. Yes He really is! thanks for stopping by and sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

  7. It sure is nice to see you realize what we have been witnessing as it happens. We are watching you as y’all fall into love. I am not surprised at your realization; I celebrate it and am ecstatic to being able to enjoy and be a part of the journey. As always you or correction y’all are in my daily prayers. Hugs and Love 🤗 & 💕

    1. Hi HJ! Aw, thank you so much for this response. you’re right – you’ve been watching this evolve, and yeah! I think I’ve learned in my life that it’s going to take getting hit over the head with a 2×4 before I notice something that’s been right in front of my nose the whole time! hahah but in all seriousness, thank you for sharing in the joy with me and being such a great friend! Praying for you as well! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw, thank you Lisa! I appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! God is so good!! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  8. I’m glad you’re happy. In paganism (my paganism anyway) you have what is called a hamingja. It is essentially a guardian angel that exclusively influences luck and happiness. I watched your talk video at the church where you talked about your life experience and I could see it clearly, an inner happiness and contentment. I know christians call it gods light, its really essentially the same thing. The fact this man has come into your life and allowed your happiness to blossom is a blessing. You will always have a great light Caralyn, akin to grace if you will. This man represents a concentrated manifestation of the light, so to speak.

    Of course thats just my pagan view, Im glad your happy you deserve it.

    Your pagan friend.

    Karac

    1. Hi Karac, thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me. Oh wow – hamingja, that is so interesting! thank you for sharing that! You’re so right, this really is such a blessing, and I am so grateful for it. thank you for this thoughtful response! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

    1. hahah thanks Greg 🙂 I appreciate you sharing gin the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hello my beautiful friend! gosh, thank you with all my heart. you’re so right, this is a blessing and a wonderful and generous gift from our Heavenly Papa!! I am so grateful! Love you, and I hope you’re having a wonderful week so far! Hugs and love xox

  9. A few weeks ago I mentioned to you that the moment you saw as an “ugly cry” is a bit of vulnerability peeking out. Here’s a little bit more. In some ways your honest dealing with the ED, and all that has gone with it is wildly vulnerable, full of integrity offering insight for those on the inside/outside to see not only the cues but the path to loving someone through an ED. This type of vulnerability though is different, it is, much like that ugly/vulnerable cry, intimate. Here is where you are living. Here’s where we get to rejoice with you, sharing in this moment of sweetness.
    Your tears here are different from the talk you gave as they are tears of joy and relief and the realization of how God has moved so intimately with you, peeling back the layers revealing the Beauty Beyond….

    Teri

    1. Hi Teri! Oh gosh, you’re so right about that. I definitely feel like my days are more vulnerable emotionally, lately, and honestly…I think it’s a beautiful thing! 🙂 And you’re right – it is an intimate part of my heart that God has been working on! 🙂 Thank you for this beautiful response! You’re a great friend, and I’m grateful for you! Hugs and love xox

  10. Thanks for this post. It resonated with me. After spending years recovering from severe trauma and PTSD, I am finally starting to feel healing and joy. I was so blessed to have close friends who journeyed with me. Awhile ago I thanked one of those friends for walking with me every step of the way. She said, “Because you shared your pain with us, we can share in your joy in healing.”

    1. Hi friend, I’m so glad this resonated with you. It brings my heart so much joy to hear that you are feeling that peace and healing. You’re right, friends are an absolute blessing. Aw, thank you for sharing that. Hugs and love xox

  11. Glad GOD has brought someone special into your life that adds to HIS extended and exponential healing taking place within you… May GOD our FATHER continually bless you and keep you in HIS care of grace, mercy, and compassion as you continue to bloom for HIS praise, honor, and glory in and through JESUS HIS SON who is the Good Shepherd for you and Steven along both your spiritual journey…

    1. Thank you so much friend! Amen amen – I am so grateful for God orchestrating all this. I feel so blessed. Thank you for that beautiful prayer! Hugs and love xox

  12. Caralyn, your journey is a joy to share as a reader. You have gone from self-hatred and attacking yourself, accompanied by shame into embracing life and love. So delightful to share with you. Hugs and love!

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. You’re right. it has been quite the jouney indeed, and I’m grateful for you joining me on it. Truly, the growth and healing that God has allowed has been in very large part because of this blog, and the wonderful friends like you’ve I’ve made along the way! Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you so much Suzie for sharing in the joy with me! amen to that! grateful to Him! Hugs and love xox

  13. Amazing Post.
    I am happy that you were able to find love and someone special. I recall reading your previous posts, it was not an easy journey. But here you are now…

    I had a couple of events in my “romantic” life recently. I’m not sure whether I am to write about it in my own blog because I’m still perplexed by it to be honest. Who knows, if I will write about it, I will definitely send you the link. Watch your twitter space. lol.

    For now, My best wishes for you and Spectacular Steven.

    1. aw, thank you so much 🙂 Spectacular Steven!! hahha I love the sound of that, and yes! i’d have to agree! And what about this one: “Studly Steven!” hahah thank you for sharing in the joy with me, and being such a source of positivity on my journey. God is good, and I’m so grateful for your friendship! I will definietely watch for updates. Know that I’m praying for you 🙂 Hugs and love xox

      1. “Studly Steven”… that certainly implies his sexual prowess. lol..
        I’m sure he will certainly live up to that nickname. But for now, we’ll just stick to his comic book title.. “The Awesome Adventures of Spectacular Steven”.

  14. Your Blog was so lovely Caralyn, its funny but I never ever imagined that you might not be ‘good enough’ for anyone the only thing that concerned me was that Steven would be ‘good enough’ for you. I’m so thrilled for you both. God Bless you.

    1. aw thank you so much Veronica! 🙂 Oh gosh, yeah – it has definitely been quite the journey. God has been working on my heart, thats for sure. thanks for sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

  15. Wow! I am so happy that you found love – I was told when I lived in England, “there is someone out there for everyone”. When I came out of years of drug taking (I too was very skinny because I just couldn’t eat much) I thought I would never found love. Then, in my first year when I moved to Portugal God brought a lady into my life who I am now married too! I pray for God to bless your relationship with this great man you have, after all you have been through it’s so great to hear about the joy you have found! Much love and God bless to both of you!

    1. Aw, thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing in the joy with me! And that you for sharing your story. I’m so happy that God brought the two of you together! What a beautiful story of love and God’s goodness! thank you for your prayer! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  16. Aww, so lovely to hear your story. Pray that God bless the union and His joy and peace surrounds you two.
    Love to hear about the journeys that makes us humans LOVE
    Bless you two. xoxo

    1. Hi Hannah! Oh gosh, thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me, and for your beuatiful prayer. Yes! I definitely have been feeling enveloped in His joy lately! it’s a wonderful thing! Hugs and love xox

  17. Thanks you for sharing your journey and your heart. I pray that God continues to bless you both as you keep growing together and continue to be a light to so many. God Bless you both.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me! and for your beautiful prayer! Yes! God has been so generous, and I am incredibly grateful. Hugs and love xox

  18. I know exactly what you mean. I’ve been married to the love of my life for over 40 years and that’s why I always have a big smile on my face. I’m very happy for both of you.

    1. Oh wow, Sheree, that is so beautiful! thank you for sharing your beautiful love story!! it is putting a huge smile on MY face too! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi Frank! Gosh, thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

    1. Aw thank you Allie for sharing in the joy with me! Amen to that! He truly is, and I am so grateful ! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Kenneth for sharing in the joy with me and for your kind words! 🙂 Yes!!! I pray so too! Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi Alice, oh gosh, you are seriously so kind to say that. thank you my friend. I do believe that God has been preparing my heart for love, so yes! patience has paid off! Hugs and love xox

  19. That’s so wonderful, Caralyn! I’ve read some of your earlier posts where you were rehashing the way you used to feel when you were hurting and recovering, and you’re right – you have been totally changed! I don’t comment much, but I read every single post, and you often inspire me! 🤗 So thank you for your amazing posts and your amazing message of hope!

    1. Thank you so much Makayla for sharing in the joy with me! Yes – totally changed! God is good like that! 🙂 And gosh, thank you so much for walking with me though the journey. you’re an awesome friend, and I’m grateful for you!!! Hugs and love xox

    1. awww, thank you for saying that, my friend. it is definitely a joy! and I’m so grateful for your support and love along the way! You have played an integral role in my healing, and for that I am forever grateful! Hugs and love xox

  20. “I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not. I don’t have to hide or be ashamed of my past. I have never felt more free, more seen, or more beautiful than I do right now.”

    Excellent paragraph there, Caralyn! Pretty much sums up the whole thing. Indeed, “you’re a breathe of fresh air” to read your stories each week. God bless you, my friend!

    One of these days when I’ll be walking in Manhattan (not far from ya!), I’ll stop you if I see you. 🙂 Regards to, Steven!

    – Thompson.

    1. Hi Thompson! thank you so much – you’re so right – it’s sums up the whole thing! I am so grateful! and gosh, i appreciate you saying that! Thanks for sharing in the joy with me! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  21. I love this so much. Jesus changed your life and allowed you to see what He has done with your heart.
    I am so happy for you.
    Shout it all out! <3 <3 <3
    "Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." – Jeremiah 20:9

    1. Thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me! yes! Jesus really has changed my life and for that I am so grateful! love that verse! Hugs and love xox

    1. Thank you so much Rollie! You’re so right about that – it changes everything! I appreciate you sharing in the joy with me! Hugs and love xox

  22. Awe super sweet!! No need to apologize for getting real and sappy!! The world needs more people to be open and honest and point others to Christ!

  23. Watch for an email, dear one. Your joy at finding and building a relationship with Steven is a joy to all who know you, as well. love and prayers, c.a.

  24. I’m thinking about your incident with the doorman and I’m wondering if maybe your special someone and his love has just opened your heart to love but also your eye’s.
    A blog friend wrote this:
    by Journalofthegrey
    I remember hearing (or reading) some psychology about conversation. If a person interacts with you, they are seeking conversation with you. In other words, they’re acknowledging you.

    This made me think…. I know I’ve been in this situation, trying to reach out but not knowing how or what to say. So, with this said, how many people out there are reaching out and we have completely turned them away.

    Ever since finding this out, I’ve seen things differently. If someone is trying to talk to you or anything, they’re acknowledging you. Try to listen.

    Maybe, he’s opened your heart and eye’s to see all the others who have been seeing you and how wonderful you are although couldn’t see it for yourself?

  25. Dear Caralyn
    Thank you for sharing your experience of God’s abundant love in sending you a life partner to bring you joy. I rejoice at the wholeness you are now feeling.
    Some people play down the importance of human love when compared with the divine, but I believe that we learn how to love from those closest to us – in your case, your mom and dad, and your special gentleman.
    Blessings
    Penny xx

  26. Cara, I am so proud of you. I have always been thankful for your transparency. Your blog is liberating everyone from something. All of us are different but we love the same God. You are providing hope to people who would continue to be hopeless. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. Your transparency has invited us to pray for you. You being in a healthy and loving relationship is an answer to prayer. Thank you for establishing this community for us to encourage each other. I am so happy for you. I am overjoyed for you and Stephen. Welcome to the crew Stephen.

    1. Oh gosh, friend, thank you so much for sharing in the joy with me, and for such kind words! You’re so right – that love for our God is what brings us all together and makes us family 🙂 it is a beautiful thing. Thank you for your prayers and friendship. You’re awesome! Hugs and love xox

  27. I’m so happy for you, enjoying life and LOVE with Steven! Such a blessing, right? My husband and I have been married almost 32 years, and I still thank God for him every single day! Btw… I love the look of your new/updated website! Take care, Caralyn! xx

  28. Caralyn, this post just makes my heart so happy for you. I believe you have been watching The Chosen? I love, love, love the scene with the woman at the well. For various reasons, but particularly because Jesus recognized it was the “appointed time” for his ministry to be revealed and shared with others. So too for your beautiful metamorphosis. It was God’s appointed time for your heart to emerge from its protective shell and spread its wings. God deigned it to be so…at this moment with this man. Hugs to you for embracing the grace He has given you and trusting wherever it shall lead. My hugs & blessings remain with you and Stephen as you continue to grow in mutual respect over this beautiful gift He has given you (both.)

  29. I really enjoyed this blog post about love. All the things you mentioned about not feeling good enough, but with God I am feeling free and whole. Domestic violence and abuse had me. Not anymore.

    1. Thank you so much Denise for sharing your powerful story. Wow i am so mired! Yes!! God is our deliverer! I’m so happy for you that you’ve found that freedom!!! Hugs and love xox

  30. It is really hard to truly love someone else while not being to accept and love ourselves… Faults and all – completely.
    It can be so difficult to stop the record on repeat that always telling us that we are not worthy.
    I am so happy for you. This post is overflowing with joy and that is beautiful.

    1. oh my gosh thank you for your kind words! you’re absolutely right – we cannot love from an empty cup! 🙂 Hugs and love xox

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