I came to the realization this morning, as I was running on the beautiful wooded running path in my parents’ neighborhood in Ohio, that I have spent a lot of my life running.
It was a gorgeous morning, 7 am, it had just finished raining, so the paved trail was wet with fallen leaves, and there was that beautifully post-rain musk in the air that you only find in the woods in Ohio.
And I realized, with a heaviness, that much of my life in recovery from anorexia, has been spent living from a place of fear, running from the past that I believed would crush me with shame forever.
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with home. Because for as amazing and love-filled and truly joyful my childhood was, there was this horrific shadow that completely eclipsed the idyllic childhood I knew and loved: and that was the anorexia that nearly took my life.
Home was no longer the place with the precious memories of Nickelodeon themed birthday parties, or excited Christmas mornings with my brothers, or stuffing manicotti noodles on the kitchen counter with my mom, or learning to play basketball with my dad. It became a horrifying crime scene – with every nook and cranny bringing up memories of hellish self-destruction.
My spots where I’d secretly exercise. Scenes where I had absolutely exploded at my loving parents, who were just doing everything they could to help me get better. The setting of my intervention. Doors that I’d slammed almost off the hinges. The kitchen, where I’d have internal – and usually external – melt downs every single day. Rooms where I’d pace back and forth. The hard stone floor that would shoot unimaginable pain through my bony heels, uncushioned by anything other than cold, grey, dry skin.
*Excuse me while I wipe my tears from the keyboard…*
But home became tainted by those inescapable, unavoidable memories of pain, and shame and loss that were pressed to the surface, from the sheer physical place. And despite the fact that the people in it were the most loving, caring family that I loved more than anything in the world, not even their love could shake that all consuming suffocation of pain I had being in the place where I threw my life away.
And so I ran.
I ran away. I fled to New York City, where I believed the “clean slate” and “fresh start” was my ticket to wholeness. To freedom from that shame. To releasing me from the bondage of guilt and pain from my past that I thought was only bubbling to the surface because of my physical location in the place where it all went down.
And this morning, running, it finally came into crystal clear focus for me: it wasn’t the place that needed to change, it was me.
I had spent so long living in fear, running away from one of the best things in my life: my family, believing that getting away from the physical place where that painful season occurred, would solve the sucking chest wound in my heart.
It turns out the solution was within myself the entire time.
I needed to change. Me. Caralyn.
I needed to surrender my heart to Jesus to transform and heal. I had to replace the fear with love. With forgiveness. With a desire for Christ, and the sustaining strength only He provides.
It’s no secret that right now, in the very season of life I’m in at this exact moment, I have never been more fully whole, more full of joy, more fully alive than ever — and it’s because that final puzzle piece of recovery: allowing myself to be loved – has finally come beautifully into place.
God has blessed me with so much healing over these past 14 years, and New York – and rebuilding who I am, who I want to be, and building from the ground-up a life free from ED – has been instrumental in that. And I am so grateful for that.
But coming home yesterday, I was overtaken with this intense feeling of peace. A feeling that I have not associated with home since I developed anorexia those 14 years ago. My heart no longer was held captive in torment from a life – a girl – I no longer am.
I am free from that, and home is finally the beautiful place of love and warmth that it always has been.
Home is no longer the hurt from the past, but the joy of the now. The hope for the future. And the love that is present in every single heart within these four walls.
And I know that is incredibly cheesy, and I promise I’ll wrap this up soon — as I’m sitting here bawling at the kitchen counter…
I write this just to share that change is possible. It is possible to go home again. If it’s recovery, if it’s a painful childhood situation, if it’s strained relationships, if it’s — you name it — change is possible.
And take it from the girl who spent the last 14 years running, the power is within yourself.
We have a Father who loves to heal, and who is in the business of miracles. But I had to surrender my broken heart to Him, which sounds trivial, but I spent years clutching that thing jealously like Gollum and his “precious.”
Change is possible. And I’ll tell you what, it’s the most beautiful thing in the entire world.
Blessings from my home to yours.
“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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93 responses to “Girl, Stop Running”
This is really beautiful. I don’t know if you’ll see this or not, but I have a friend who was sent home from the hospital a few months ago. She was there due to an eating disorder. She’s 15 and she shares very openly about her struggles. That’s how she’s always been. She says she’s “trying to do better” and “needs to eat more”, but I’m not convinced she’s actually doing much better. I don’t want to seem condescending or judgemental by addressing it, but I don’t want to ignore the problem either. She “forgot” lunch so many times before cross country practice last year, but we knew something was up – eventually her heart became so unsteady she was banned from running in cross country meets. She missed the track season due to being in the hospital, but now she’s back to running. But she’s not much different than last year. I think the problem stems from a very disjointed and stressful home life due to her parents’ recent divorce. I guess anorexia is her way to have some sort of control. But my friend is hurting and I don’t know what I should say and do.
I also have another friend who eats next to nothing and I think she definitely has an eating disorder as well, though she hasn’t been hospitalized or anything. I know she’s insecure about her eating habits and she’s constantly talking about how much she loves her tiny bags of goldfish, Cheerios, or almonds, but these things that make up her “lunch” would just be a light snack for me. And I know whenever I’ve had some eating insecurities, trying to eat less, I talked about food like that – all the time, trying to convince people I actually loved to eat. She makes other people feel bad about what they eat too though, which sometimes puts me off. She’s always talking about calories, food, weight etc. which is toxic for me to be around too – her insecurities tend to be contagious.
Both girls seem to take any of my input and encouragement but they’re still struggling. Their self esteem is low and I’m helpless as I watch the vicious cycle continue. I would appreciate any advice.
Sorry for the long comment.
Hi Rachel, gosh I’m so sorry to hear that your friends are going through that. It sounds like you’re a good friend with a big heart. They are lucky to have you in their lives. You’re right – talking about eating issues with people is hard, as it is a very touchy subject. Your friend who was hospitalized, offering her support — whether that’s offering to eat lunch with her, listening to her, being with her – those are practical and tangible ways you can help. She has already been to hospital, so I do think that you can just ask her in a private setting, when the time is right, how her recovery journey is going. Just open the door that you’re available to talk to. Your other friend who has not admitted to anything, I think you really can’t do much until she recognizes that she has a problem. Just keep an eye on it: if she is losing weight, if she cuts back any more on food, starts skipping meals all together, then it may be time to either say something, or talk to her parents. But I just want to encourage you, that your own mental health and wellbeing are worth protecting, and sometimes, you have to rid the toxicity from your life. I know that’s a hard thing to hear, but at the end of the day, it’s important to surround yourself with people who build you up, who make you feel good about yourself and who are sources of positivity. They say that you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with, and sometimes, you have to cut ties with toxic people for your own good. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic “thing”— you don’t even have to say anything explicit about it. Just start creating distance — sitting with different people at lunch, being “busy” if she wants to hang out, and then just not reaching out to hang out anymore. I know that’s hard to hear, but sometimes, you’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask first. I hope that helps! Hugs and love xox
That helps a lot. Thank you so much. ❤
i’m so glad 🙂
Amen, Caralyn! You have a beautiful testimony. Blessings to you and your family.
thank you so much Ryan! Gosh, what a kind thing to say. You’ve always been such a great source of support and positivity, and i want you to know that it means the world. Blessings to you and yours as well. Thank you again, my friend. Hugs and love xox
Thank you for your transparency and clarity. It is a beautiful thing. Genuine change is breathtaking.
thank you so much Ivan, I really appreciate your support and your kind words. it means a lot. Hugs and love xox
I am so happy for you, Caralyn! And surprised that your back in Ohio, you sure do get around! ❤️☺️
Thank you so much John. haha yes! this was a spur of the moment little trip — cheap flight, and i really missed my family, so i’m glad i got a chance to go! Hugs and love xox
“I ran away. I fled to New York City, where I believed the “clean slate” and “fresh start” was my ticket to wholeness.”
This.… I ran away from my home province and moved across the country to “escape” from my home town and start over. I felt like this province would provide me a fresh start. I don’t really know what “home” is anymore. This place isn’t my home, but the place where I grew up doesn’t feel like my forever home either. You explained this in such a raw and real way, and it sent shivers down my spine. I feel like we are all trying to run away from something in our lives. It’s good that you know exactly what you were trying to run away from. Owning up to that takes a lot of inner strength 🙏🏻💕
Hi Hilary, thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey. I appreciate you taking the time to read it and your kind response. There really is so much “common thread-ness” that we can all relate to on so many levels, no matter what the situation. Believe me, I have been there, but I know that home will make itself known for you one day. Your heart will feel it, and I pray that day comes soon for you, my friend. So glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox
Caralyn reading that brought tears and a big lump in my throat. So glad to hear this good news.
oh gosh, thank you so much, Den. I’m so glad this resonated with you 🙂 sending big hugs xox
The funny thing about running is that whatever we need to face always ends up catching up to us. Believe me, without going into a long comment spiel, I have learned this both by example and through experience. Wonderful post as per usual, Caralyn! Enjoy your visit home 🙂
you’re right about that, Vera – that’s how it always ends up. thank you for sharing that. I’m glad you stopped by, and thank you! it’s a short little visit, but I’m having a wonderful time! Hugs and love xox
Aw, thanks! I’m glad that you’re enjoying yourself!
So beautiful… so transparent… so brave. You made my day!
oh gosh, thank you for saying that. that’s very kind. glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox
All things are possible with God. Beautiful post.
you’re so right about that, Sandy — with God! glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox
This reminds of a fave line from 6 Days / 7 Nights (Harrison ford and Anne Heche). He’s drunk in a bar telling her that New York types like her come to the islands to find love, but it’ll never happen. Why? “It’s an island, babe! If you didn’t bring it with you, it ain’t here!” You discovered that home didn’t contain those memories, you did. You brought them with you. And you kept it all with you in NYC too. Deciding not to any more…good for you. Hugs!
oh my gosh, what a one liner! If you didn’t bring it with you, it ain’t here! boy and how true, huh!? Thank you Jeff – yes, it has certainly been quite the journey. My parents and i had a long “heart to heart” about this last night too – recovery is a lifelong evolution. It always amazes me, that even this long in, I still have things I’m learning. so glad you stopped by, my friend. I hope you have a wonderful Tuesday! hugs and love to you and your girls! Hugs and love xox
Giving you a massive long distance hug!
awww 🙂 i feel it!!! hahah
Very, very happy for you Caralyn!!
I just turned 71. My brother and sister and I were abused by our mother until we got big enough I guess she was afraid we’d fight back. Then her abuse became verbal. She always made sure we knew she was smarter than us. We all grew up not feeling “good enough” and with little self-esteem. My sister suffered the worst, became addicted to drugs as a young adult, but Praise God she’s been clean for over 30 years!!! While our father seemed oblivious to that, he did teach us how to work, and gave us a work ethic that saw us all through college, working at jobs with skills a lot of young people didn’t have (and still don’t).
My ‘home’ has never really been on this earth, but knowing Jesus, my new home is waiting for me. My wife and I already picked out our tombstone, with the epitaph in bronze: “HOME AT LAST!”
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—1 Corinthians 2:8
Even so, come Lord Jesus!!
Thank you Myron. And gosh, thank you for sharing your story. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear that about your childhood. Gosh. You deserved to be protected and cherished, and I’m just so sorry that you were not shown the love and protection you deserved. oh praise God about your sister’s sobriety. that’s truly something to celebrate, and wow – 30 years that is amazing. I am so inspired by your spirit. amen – Jesus will be welcoming you with loving arms to the peace, security and care that He longs for you. HOME AT LAST! oh my gosh, that just got me a little choked up. Sending so so much love to you, my brave friend. xoxo
“If it’s too heavy, stop carrying it around.” Your whole post was amazingly REAL and refreshingly vulnerable, but this little quote made me do a double take. You mean I don’t HAVE to carry this junk around, Caralyn?! The answer is a resounding NO, of course. Yet it took seeing it in print to acknowledge that lugging the bulk of my emotional junk around is a choice. Posts like these are the reason I follow you, Caralyn! Wounded healers often make the best helpers. Go girl!
Hi David, oh gosh, thank you my friend. I’m so glad this resonated with you. haha – you’re right, a resounding NO! We can just hand it over! 🙂 gosh, you’re kind to say that. I’m so glad you do! dang, you’re right about that! When you go through something, you can definitely be a shoulder for others to lean on! 🙂 thank you for this incredible comment, i am truly so touched. Hugs and love xox
Very nice. Glad you’re feeling that.
(I wonder if this means anything for what’s been on my mind…)
thank you so much Greg, I appreciate your support. hmmm…interesting thought! hahah Hugs and love xox
Caralyn, your refreshing honesty, vulnerability, and rawness are so good. We all have areas we have been packing too long! I have tried geography therapy but it did not work. It is hard to realize the problem is me. It is so good that we can cast our cares on God and get his help in letting go! Glad you got the chance for a short welcome home, visit!
hi friend, gosh thank you so much for your kind words and support. truly, it means so much. You’re right about that – it’s time have to let them go! geography therapy — that’s such a great term for it!! and you’er right- GOd will take them all! so glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox
You are welcome! Love and hugs. xoxo
thank you so much 🙂 i appreciate your support! Hugs and love xox
You didn’t run away from problems. Even if unwittingly, you ran towards Jesus. Eric Clapton writes in his autobiography how he had realised that only Jesus could save him.
The late DR M Scott Peck, after two decades of Eastern philosophy, found that the only reality is Jesus.
You ran well. It made you fit for Eternal Life.
thank you for this wonderful encouragement. You’re right, i was running towards Jesus, who was the source of that ultimate healing. i am very grateful. amen – He is the only reality! Hugs and love xox
If I dare ask here….I’d love your comment on a new blog post, on my space. The post title is Blind Date. It is the first in a series, as part of a much needed awareness drive. Please…
sure thing! i’m in ohio with my family right now for just a super short time, so I will check it out when I’m back in New York City tomorrow! 🙂 Hugs and love xox
Thanks, Caralyn. Enjoy the time with your family!
i certainly am!!
Excellent and honest observations-self-reflection brings ‘aha’ moments when we least expect them. But, finding new meanings, aren’t they worth it?!
Thank you so much JaDonnia. i really appreciate your kind words. You’re so right – those aha moments are priceless! Hugs and love xox
This is a wonderful testimony that you have.Gives me hope that my story will change one day.
thank you so much Stella! God has definitely delivered me through a lot. i appreciate your kindness. Hugs and love xox
You open this blog with the words ‘You spend your life running’. I think at times we all find ourselves running from one thing or another! God Bless! 😀
Hi Kenneth, thank you so much for your kind words. I think you’re right- we all have seasons where we’re running! glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox
Feels like a while since i commented on your blogs Caralyn. God bless
It’s good to hear from you 🙂
I wish I could blog as good as you 😔
oh gosh – you do! everyone has their own style, and each voice is unique and important!
Would you mind doing a guest post of your video ‘My Story’ to epilepsycerebralpalsy.com or may I have permission to post it
yes, absolutely, you may post it! thanks for asking, I would be honored for you to pass it along to your readers! Hugs and love xox
Does it matter if it’s the one in your recent post or would you rather the ‘My Story ‘ video
Indeed, change is possible with Him at the helm. “We have a Father who loves to heal, and who is in the business of miracles. But I had to surrender my broken heart to Him, which sounds trivial, but I spent years clutching that thing jealously like Gollum and his “precious. ”
I am so joyful for you.
May you continue to blossom and bloom from glory to glory and from strength to strength.
thank you so much friend. You’re absolutely right – change is certainly possible! i appreciate you sharing in the joy with me. big hugs to you xox
[…] Girl, Stop Running […]
thank you tonya for the link up! Hugs and love xox
Dear Caralyn, your tale of running hits home closer than most of us will want to admit.
And unfortunately “the run” is not over yet. It is wonderful that you find moments of peace and joy, especially in the healing you find of the memories of home.
However, we still have a couple of enemies roaming around “like” a lion, seeking whom he can devour; and our world appears to continually spiral out of control (although it is NOT out of Father control). These will continue for the rest of our lives here on earth to try to undermine the peace and joy we can have in Jesus.
So keep “running,” but in a different direction and not out of fear or shame:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
So, Girl, Keep Running. 😉
Hi CA, gosh I am so touched by this comment. thank you so much for your kindness and friendship. you’re right – this is definitely a topic that many people can relate to. And that’s so true – the enemy comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but thankfully our Father has already overcome the world. What a powerful verse. you’re right – we must run towards Jesus! Hugs and love xox
I always appreciate your vulnerability and honesty. Your post brings to mind Phil 3:13,14 “13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” You’re no longer running away from the past but toward Christ! What’s a better prize than that?
gosh, thank you so much for this wonderfully touching comment. yes! Running towards Jesus! that’s such a beautiful thought. I love that verse – thanks for sharing it with me. no better prize! Hugs and love xox
Your testimony is proof positive that Christ heals the most broken and weak among us – but only if we surrender to His Lordship and live for Him. God bless you.
Gosh, thank you Rollie. You’re absolutely right – Christ is the ultimate healer, and there is no one too broken or too “far gone” for the overwhelming love and healing power of Christ. God is good! Hugs and love xox
I love how you share Jesus. He is alive and real and comes through you in your writing.
Thank you so much Marcy! He has delivered me through so much, and all I can do it sing His praises for it! God is good! Hugs and love xox
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you JB – I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read. Hugs and love xox
You are very welcome.
Girl. So many hungs right now. I may not have met you, but I feel like I know you through this blog. Thank you for being open and vulnerable and sharing all of this. Most all of us run from something at some point <3 Thank you for sharing your message.
aw, thank you Avery, what a kind thing to say. I feel that hug!!! 🙂 you’re right about that, we all have those things we’re running from at one season or another. i appreciate your support. Hugs and love xox
Thanks for sharing. In a sense, we are all running from something. I was reading about Moses and for 40 years he was hiding in the desert. Moses had killed an Egyptian overseer and hid his body in the sand. Maybe Moses was running from a murder charge, but I think he was also hiding from his false self… the false image we created to hide from the pain. A person might not have an eating disorder but what about rage, depression, the need to control everything and everyone, shame, etc?
Like Moses, God showed up in the burning bush and revealed his good nature.
thank you friend. you’re right, this is something we all deal with during one season or another. And gosh, what a powerful example from the Bible. You’re so right! God always shows up! glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox
Your honesty in self-learning and passion to share what God has done is beautiful. Reminds me of Rom8:18.. the glory we are meant for is not just in heaven. His glory shows in our lives here and now!
Thank you so much Tama, what a kind thing to say. Yes – God has been so good to be to deliver me through the fire! yes! i love that verse! Hugs and love xox
I’m reminded of two Jesus quotes: Seek first the kingdom of God; And the kingdom of God is within you. Peace and blessings ~
oh wow, yes!! those are powerful reminders, thank you Bill. Hope you have a great afternoon. Hugs and love xox
Blessings to you for sharing your testimony!
Thank you so much Rosalyn! I appreciate you stopping by! Hugs and love xox
You are absolutely my favorite. I just adore your posts all the time! ✨💖
Awww you are so sweet!! Thank you so much!! I’m so touched! Hugs and love xox
You deserve this level of peace and happiness. Your warrior spirit and what you have been through in your recovery is a personal triumph…amazing… much love to you….💟
oh gosh, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind words! my goodness, I am so touched. sending you so much love and hugs xox
Thank you.. love to you too x
Great article. I run from God a lot too. Especially when I don’t understand he moves me.