Guess what! Steven and I spent last weekend in Ohio!
That’s right! Perhaps, you saw my Instagram Stories, but we were with my family all weekend!
It was SO nice to be with everyone. They threw us a sweet backyard dinner engagement party one night, which was such a beautiful surprise! It was my oldest brother’s birthday, and we thought we were going over there for a birthday BBQ…only to show up and realize that they had the place all decked out with celebratory decorations for US!
It was so thoughtful and such a special moment with everyone 🙂
But the weekend was full of so much love, and I know that’s really cheesy to say, but it was.
Although we were only there for two days, we jam packed it with so much togetherness.
We visited our wedding venues! We went to Mass at the church where we’ll be getting married, and had drinks at our reception location. My parents also took us to a beautiful steak dinner downtown.
We tooled around the neighborhood in my parent’s golf cart, and — my favorite moment of the weekend — was when my mom and I went out for a mother/daughter coffee date 🙂 I miss her so much.
It was one of those moments when time simultaneously stood still, and flew by faster than the blink of an eye.
I was really sad when I got back to New York. I’m not going to lie. I got home from the airport, threw my bags on the couch, and just sobbed, missing my family like crazy.
But this week, as I’ve been returning to “life as normal” here in New York, one thing I’ve been reflecting on is the power of family.
And how, truly, family is a glimpse of Heaven on earth.
And believe me when I say, it is not lost on me that I am very blessed to have such a loving family unit. I appreciate that there are a lot of different – and difficult – family situations out there, and that having a stable foundation, is sadly not the case for everyone.
But I have really come to appreciate the role that family has played in my life, shaping me into the woman that I am today.
But as I’ve been reflecting on it, and reading all the beautiful words of support from you all, I’ve come to think a lot about the role my family played in my recovery, and how — it is because of them that I have thrived in recovery, in the way that I have.
Their support, their love, their forgiveness. Thinking about it brings tears to my eyes as I write this.
One story that I just want to share, that I think really highlights it, has to do with my dad.
As with most recovery warriors, my recovery journey had a “hiccup” and I relapsed pretty much as soon as I got back from inpatient. I left for college in Charleston weeks after returning from inpatient. And looking back, I should have listened to the advice of literally everyone, and waited to go to college for a few months until I had more of a firm handle on “recovery life.” But alas, my headstrongness got the best of me, and I left for college out of state, where I knew not a soul, and was therefore, not accountable to anyone.
And — big shocker — I relapsed, hard. And coming home for Christmas break, I was told I was not allowed to return, and had to stay home with my parents and regain the thirty pounds I had lost that first semester.
During that terrible semester, I also relapsed into the mindset of fear around food.
So my dad, after I got home, wanted to help me “fall in love” with food again. So he took me all around town to different restaurants and buffets, so that I could overcome that fear and try all the different flavors and foods, while also being present with me during meals. And it worked. And that was only one of the myriad of ways that he supported me in reclaiming the recovery I had lost at college.
That is the type of man he is. One who shows up. One who is going to go to bat for his family, and do everything in his power to help them thrive and succeed.
My family has never once held that season of my life against me. They have never once used it as the punchline of a joke, or treated me as “broken,” “damaged goods” — or — “someone who owes them something.”
All I have ever been shown is love. Grace. Forgiveness. Support. And encouragement.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without them.
And this is the last thing: reflecting on my gratitude for my family, makes me also appreciate that no relationship is ever “un-fixable.”
Because during that dark season of my eating disorder, my treatment of them was horrific. I lied. Manipulated and deceived them. I had daily outbursts of rage and fury, that I took out on them. My behavior was nothing short of demonic, and I don’t say that flippantly.
So to see how they found it in their hearts to forgive me, and move forward, is nothing short of a miracle.
They understood that — though it is not an excuse — my behavior was coming from my anorexia. It was controling my actions, my words, my destructive behaviors, my berating thoughts.
And they found the grace to be able to separate that demonstration of darkness, from the daughter and sister that they knew and loved.
And for that I am so grateful.
But all that to say, is that no relationship is too far gone. There is always room for forgiveness. Always an opportunity for repentance and grace. Even if, mustering it up is the most difficult, painful thing in the world, there is always healing to be found.
My heart still hasn’t stopped floating since I’ve been back from Ohio. (And please note, that I will never call NYC “home.” Even in the Uber app in my phone, I have my apartment listed as “work.” Ohio will always be HOME.)
But coming back, my heart felt so full that it was almost bursting.
And maybe this is sharing too much, but my heart is in a constant state of unsettledness. Because it is always full to the brim with the love I have here in New York, but at the exact same time, even though it is overflowing with fullness, it is also always deeply broken, because it is away from my family.
Does that make sense? It’s like, I am always simultaneously the happiest I’ve ever been, while also deeply heartbroken.
And I pray about it a lot.
One thing I know is that God knows my heart better than I know it, myself. And I just trust that it is in His hands, and He will make everything okay.
So I will close with the wise words of my fiancé: “Hug your family and let them know that you love them.”
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