I want to thank you guys for such kind words in my last post about my upcoming move back to Ohio. I was so touched by all the wonderful comments, and all the prayers that you all have been saying over the years for this. I can’t believe how incredibly blessed I am to have such a loving community here online.
You know, it’s funny. Rewind ten years ago, when I first moved to New York City, and I wanted to get as far away from Ohio as possible.
One thing they don’t tell you about recovering from an eating disorder is that it’s really hard to live in the same place that you were “sick.” For starters, everything was a reminder: of the deception, of blowups, of episodes of rage. But the hardest part: was escaping other people’s memories. I came from a pretty “well known” family in my town — which forgive that brashness, but my mom led a huge Bible study at our parish, and we were super involved there. My brother was the captain of the football team, and as a family, we were mega involved in the community and school district. So not surprisingly, when the daughter of that family wastes away to 78 pounds, and has to abruptly quit Varsity soccer, and stop doing all the shows at school, people noticed.
And it was the terrible shadow that followed me around.
I was the “former anorexic girl.”
And even years later, revisiting my old church when I would come back home to visit, I would still get well-meaning church-ladies coming up to me, saying things like, “You look so much better now,” or “We’re so glad you’re healthy again.”
It just — ugh, I get cringe shivers down my spine just thinking about it. But I get it. I was a walking billboard of anorexia, and people noticed, and — like I’ve mentioned in all my prior recovery advice posts — well-meaning people can – and will – say really dumb things. They’re trying to connect again, say something to acknowledge that they’re relieved you’re healthy — but it most often times comes out clunky and in words that, frankly can be taken as insensitive to the person.
So I just wanted to run. Far away. First to college in Colorado, and then to life in New York.
I wanted — and needed — to rediscover who I was without my anorexia. Not re-invent, per se, but rather reestablish that I am a worthwhile person that has a purpose, has something to offer, has the ability to make friends and create a life — not only without ED — but free from the stigma that I felt was attached to me back home in Ohio. I needed to prove that to myself.
I didn’t want to be, Caralyn – the former anorexic girl from high school. But rather, Caralyn – my friend who is fun to be around and makes me feel valued as a person.
And for a long time, I harbored major resentment and anger towards that period of my life when I was suffering with anorexia, because I felt it had robbed my home from me. I was the girl that, growing up, wanted to live next door to my mom. I had the most beautiful childhood, but the eating disorder stole being able to feel “home” at home from me, and I grieved that for a long time. And had kind of come to terms with letting “home” go, as devastating as that was.
Friends, it is truly only through God’s peace and grace He has poured over me that those wounds have healed.
That, plus time and perspective.
I don’t think I’m alone in those former feelings. Perhaps not an eating disorder, but I know that for many people, it’s hard to go home for a myriad of different reasons. Heck, I “ran away” for a decade, so believe me: I get it.
It is possible to go home again.
Those are words that, ten years ago, I would never ever have thought would come out of my mouth. But it is. It is possible to go home again.
I am not the girl that left Ohio those ten+ years ago. I have changed, in a really profound way.
I no longer allow myself to be defined by the stuck-in-the-past minds of yore, whose notions of me had kept me from embracing the future and blossoming into person God created me to be.
I am finally whole. Finally healed.
And you know what, yeah — I did have that terrible season of life when I was ruled by anorexia, but I am not that girl anymore. And in fact, going through that only made me stronger. It only gave the perspective and strength I have today, that has formed me into the young woman I am.
That was ten years ago. I have moved on. And heck, if there are people who refuse to move on with me, then hey — I don’t want them in my life anyway.
The broken, wounded girl that left — she had no idea the life in store for her, and she would be so proud of how we “turned out.”
And I’ll be darned if I let that eating disorder rob even a millisecond from me any longer.
Home, sure — it’s going to have it’s ups and downs, and challenges and whatnot. I am not going into this idealistically. But by George, it is where I grew up. Where my loved ones live. And the place that contributed in shaping who I am. It makes me really sad to think I pushed it away for all those years.
But I have to let that go, and only move forward and embrace everything that’s coming, and live, ready to make up for lost time.
It is possible to go home again. Because though the “home” you left may have been filled with pain and strife, the “you” that’s returning is different: bolder, stronger, and able to see with different eyes.
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CARALYN’S COOKING CORNER!
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