I Never Meant to Tell This Kind of Story.

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I never meant to tell this kind of story.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that is secretly

(yet visible for everyone to see)

etched on to porcelain wrists.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that curls around collarbones

and hides behind ribs

that try to fill up the emptiness inside,

but yet only stick out like swords

waiting to hurt anyone who

comes too close.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that is confessed to an empty toilet bowl,

applauded with the cool

(disgusting)

backsplash of water.

 

I never meant to tell the kind of story

that flinches,

winces,

trembles

at a mere hand on the shoulder,

because at one point

there were hands that were

not so kind.

 

But this is the story that I’m telling,

and I don’t know how I got here.

I don’t want to tell this story.

 

But I must tell this story.

 

I must tell this story

because I cannot stay prisoner,

I cannot stay captive

to the darkness that has held me under

for so long.

 

The story is screaming to be told,

and I don’t want to tell the story,

but I must tell the story.

 

I tell the story so that I have a voice.

So that I have freedom.

So that I can find peace.

So that I can close my eyes

and forget his face.

So that I can eat lunch

without the guilt gnawing inside,

or without the urge to discard of my food

after I have already consumed it.

And so that my scars

will just be scars,

not lines of embarrassment

and reminders.

 

I tell the story the story so that

I

can

live.

 

I need to live.

I need to breathe.

I need to be set free from this story

that I have been writing on my body

for over half a decade.

 

This story will no longer be told

through my body,

but through my words.

I will speak them,

I will type them,

I will write them,

I will scream them,

I will get them out.

 

I will

get

these

words

out.

 

I will live.

I will breathe.

I will be set free.

 

I will tell this story.

 

I never meant to tell this kind of story.

But this kind of story is meant to be told.

Fully Broken, Yet Fully Whole

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Hey friends. So I originally wrote this post as an end-of-term paper for my Bible class. I changed some of it to make it fit more as a blog post, but I wanted to share it with y’all! Excuse the parts that talk specifically about my Bible class… I deleted most of those parts, but I had to leave some in order for it to make sense. Anyways, Jesus is so crazy cool. I can’t believe that my first semester of college is over, but I have learned so so much. I’m so excited to see what else Jesus has in store for me here!


When I came to Lipscomb, I already had a solid foundation of my Christian faith and who Jesus was in my life. I grew up in the church, went to Christian school since I was six-years-old, and actively pursued a relationship with God through reading the Word and continually being in communion with him. Having a Bible class was nothing new to me—I have grown up with daily Bible classes since I started kindergarten. I had always known who Jesus was, but it was not until the summer before my junior year of high school that I really, truly met him. He collided with my life every so gently, yet so crazily while I was at a youth conference, and since that week my life has never been the same.

Five weeks before I moved into my dorm here at Lipscomb University, I was discharged from an eating disorder treatment center after a two-month long stay. To say that coming to college was a whirlwind for me would be an understatement. My entire life flipped when I entered treatment, and then it flipped again when I discharged back to my outpatient team at home. I learned a lot about Jesus throughout the entire process, but I still felt shame about my eating disorder. Jesus had changed my life so drastically just two years prior—why was I struggling with this? Did I not have enough faith? I thought my eating disorder was a messy part of my life that I needed to hide from the world. I was the good Christian girl. I was a leader in my youth group. Could I really admit to the world that I was human? That I was imperfect? That my beautiful story of redemption was marred by the stains of my eating disorder?

The first day of my Bible class my teacher told us, “[God] is really good at breaking out of boxes.” I wrote the quote down because I liked it, but I forgot it only moments later. I liked the idea of God being able to break down any barriers I put around him, but I honestly did not realize the constraints I had him in. I was telling him that there was no more redemption to be done in my life. I thought I had peaked. I thought the shame of my eating disorder was just something that was apart of my life. Yet little did I know that I was building boxes around God, and that soon He would be completely shattering them.

In my Bible class we discussed the Sermon on the Mount. It has always been one of my favorite passages in the Gospels, but it never truly occurred to me that in his teaching, Jesus was trying to show his followers the difference between a good person and a Kingdom person, which I think can be further narrowed down to a good Christ follower and a Kingdom warrior. I think for a while I had gotten caught up in being a good Christ follower. Nothing I was doing was superficial. My relationship with Jesus was real and strong. I was raw and authentic with him. He held my heart in his nail-scarred hands. Yet even though I was worshipping him and running after his desires, I was still focused on me. I was focused on my mess. On my hurt. I was worried about how I looked to the Christian community. Was I a fake? Did I need to prove to them that I was devoted? Did my eating disorder make my faith invalid because I could not just “pray” my disorder away?

I was completely forgetting the Kingdom part of Christianity. Sure, I was serving others, but was I serving them with my story? Volunteering at a food pantry and putting together service projects for my youth group was awesome, but that was not all Christ was calling me to do. The very Kingdom act that I was created for was to lay down myself and my shame and share my story.

I was scared. I was supposed to accept my story and acknowledge it in front of the world? My eating disorder equaled shame for me. Jesus had saved me from so much when I was seventeen, and yet I still had to enter treatment for an eating disorder less than two years later. I knew the Christian world would think differently of me after that. Yet little did I know, I was not the only broken Christian. I was nowhere close to being the odd one out in a sea of perfect people. In reality, I fit right in. There is not a single perfect person in the Kingdom besides Jesus. We are all his servants—broken, yet beautiful. Shattered, yet made whole. Cracked, but made for a purpose.

In class we learned that we become what we already are, meaning that our identity comes first, and then we move to fulfill that identity. I fully believe this to be true. As the salt and light of the world, we are different than everything around us, but we must be embedded into the world to have an effect. From the beginning Christ has called me to be a storyteller. When he created me, he knew that my Kingdom mission would be to proclaim my story to the world. My mission is not to just tell the story of where I have been, but tell the story of how Jesus has rescued me from my darkness, picked me up from the dirt, and redeemed my life song. Telling my story is for his glory only. I am simply a vessel being used to further the Kingdom.

It is still crazy to me that my Kingdom work is to simply share how Jesus has worked in my life. I have always thought of Kingdom work as moving to Africa as a lifelong missionary or starting a non-profit organization. I did not realize that my Kingdom work, my purpose, could be to advocate for eating disorder awareness and let others know that they are not alone in the fight. My words of hope to the broken world around me can advance the Kingdom? It is absolutely mind-blowing, but that is just who Jesus is. He works in us and uses our seemingly ordinary lives to do something extraordinary.

I have begun to fully lean into this vulnerable life that Christ is calling me to. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely. My shame is gone. I now know that my eating disorder was a work of Satan, but that it is still redeemable by Jesus. I am open with my recovery story. I want to tell anyone who will listen the story of who my Jesus is and what he has done in my life. I no longer struggle in secret. I do not put on a perfect mask. I am fully broken, yet fully whole in front of the entire world. I am admitting to the Church that I am broken, but that that is okay. God has taken ahold of this brokenness and is using completely for his glory.

No part of this story is mine. It is all Christ’s. I am simply stepping into the identity that God created for me: a girl with a sensitive and broken, yet brave and hopeful heart. I am dropping the good Christian girl act and fully embracing who I am as a Kingdom person. My Kingdom mission is different than I ever thought that it would be, but I am chasing after it with full abandon because I know that it is what Jesus has called me to.

The Yellow Bubble: a class essay

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I originally wrote this story for my “Learning to Tell Your Stories” class at college. Since it is part of my treatment story, I thought that I would share it with y’all.


After a six-hour long car ride, we pulled into the gravel parking lot as the rain started to beat against the car window. I remember in that moment thinking that the dreary weather outside mirrored the emotions that I felt behind my tear-stained face—fear, sadness, hopelessness. My dad heaved my heavy suitcase out of the car as I turned to face what would be my home for the next two months. We walked up to the yellow house, in a weird, awkward silence that only exists when what you are facing is too weighty to handle. We rang the doorbell. After a few moments, a face that I did not recognize but would soon become one that I saw everyday answered the door. “Welcome to Carolina House! You must be Sarah, right?” she asked. I nodded. This was it. I was at Carolina House, a residential treatment center for eating disorders in Durham, North Carolina.

My first week at Carolina House was one of the worst weeks of my life. All of my freedom was stripped from me—I could no longer go to the bathroom alone, stand without being told to sit down, or choose what or how much I ate. I cried before, during, and after almost every meal and snack. I had been extremely restricting my food intake for the last five years, and now I was being expected to eat six times a day. Instead of enjoying all of the end of senior year festivities at home, every night during phone time I called my family, begging them to come get me. I told them I did not have a problem. That I did not need to be there. That I was not “sick enough”. I felt as if my family had betrayed me by dropping me off at literal hell on earth.

Three weeks after being admitted into Carolina House, I woke up on the morning of my high school graduation. Instead of putting on my graduation robe that morning, I changed into my weigh-in gown for morning check-ins, and instead of having my graduation party that night, I had lights out at 10:30. My graduation day went nothing like what I had been dreaming it would be. I spent the majority of the day crying, even though the staff and residents tried to make my day special. We put on temporary tattoos, went bowling, and had a fake graduation ceremony complete with a diploma made during art therapy group.  Even though treatment was saving my life, I felt like everything was ruined and worthless because the one thing I had been living for—my high school graduation—was taken from me.

The worst part of treatment was gaining weight. When I went into Carolina House, I knew that I was extremely underweight, but my eating disorder made me believe that my treatment team would only make me gain 10 pounds at most. My body was in such distress that my dietitian had to continually increase my meal plan because my body was burning all the food so quickly that I was not gaining weight. It was absolute torture. It took over two months for me to reach my maintenance weight. Even though I hated it, I began to appreciate the things that the weight gain did for my body. I could stand without getting dizzy; I could walk without blacking out. My calcium levels began improving, which made my team hopeful that my osteopenia was beginning to reverse. My weight gain took away the possibility of organ failure. Even though I hated it, gaining back my lost weight literally saved my life.

I turned 19 three days before my discharge from Carolina House, but I was not just celebrating another year older. I was celebrating that I received another year of life—a year that would not be dictated by my eating disorder, a year that would be healthy, a year that my life would not be at risk. I was celebrating all that Carolina House and recovery had given me—friends that I still talk to everyday, countless hilarious memories that I will never forget, and a life that I love. That little yellow house in the woods—more lovingly known as “the yellow bubble”—saved my life. Every hard day was worth it because of the life I live now.

While at Carolina House, I ate approximately 336 meals. Since my discharge, I have eaten 576 meals. Not every one of those meals have been easy. I have cried through a lot of them and have even denied some—but only to change my mind 30 minutes later because I have learned that recovery is a choice and even when I do not want recovery, I have to choose it anyways. Recovery is hard and eating is still not my favorite thing to do, but I know that those things are worth more than anything my eating disorder ever offered me.

“fly” – a poem

to learn is to

become.

a caterpillar did not know who it was

until it learned its strength

and became a butterfly.

learning does not diminish who you were before,

but takes you where you are now

and grows you to greater than you have ever been.

i am learning.

i am growing.

i am becoming a better me.

a stronger me.

a more radiant me.

i am sitting,

but now i am learning to crawl.

i am crawling,

but now i am learning to walk.

i am walking,

but now i am learning to run.

i’m still running

because soon i will

learn how to fly.

i’m not there yet,

and i don’t quite have my feet

off the ground,

but i will continue

to run

and to jump

until one day

i learn how to fly.

 

I wrote this poem during an Expressive Arts group in treatment. It’s not very good, but somehow writing it that day opened so many doors for me. It was like a breakthrough happened in my mind. It’s when I realized that freedom was a process, and it’s okay that I’m not there yet. I’m continually getting closer and closer everyday because I’m constantly learning who I am more and more.

 

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