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.

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Dear Ed,

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Today, May 5, 2017, is my one year in recovery. One year ago I walked through the doors of Carolina House and was admitted to their residential program. You can read a blog post about that here (and you can find all my blog posts tagged treatment here too if you’re interested). Reaching the one year mark is weird and hard, but oh so joyful. So today, to celebrate my one year of starting to kick Ed (my eating disorder) to the curb, I’m writing him a letter. If you have never experienced an eating disorder, it may seem weird to you that I personify my eating disorder and call him Ed.  Just roll with it, friends. When there’s something in your head screaming at you, you want to be able to somehow separate it from who you are. So my eating disorder is Ed. And here’s what I have to say to him.


Dear Ed,

I remember when we met. I was 13, and my friend introduced me to the wonderful “comfort” that you bring. First I let you into my life because I wanted to lose weight. Not that I needed to, but I thought it would prove me worthy enough to be friends with the girls at school. Simple enough, right? No. You already had your foot in the door, so you soon began to demand your way. You quickly became my best coping skill, because even though you were slowly beginning to suck the life out of me, you numbed the pain of depression and took the place of self-harm when I had to cope in a “socially acceptable” way, aka not eating. Because dieting is normal and okay for a 13 year old, right? Wrong.

It’s been a long haul with you, Ed. Five years. You saw me throughout half of middle school and all of high school. When I think of my high school years, I don’t remember hanging out with friends during class or on the weekends. Instead, I remember skipping every off campus lunch so that I could sit in the hallway alone – I mean, sit in the hallway with you – and not eat. I remember not going to a single school dance (well, I went to my senior prom for 15 minutes – that counts, right?) because I had isolated myself so much that I had no friends to hang out with. I remember sitting in class, not paying attention to the lesson at all, but instead tallying up calories in my planner and planning my “meals” for the week.

To you, those things might sounds fun. Those are the things that you thrive off of. But to me, those are horrible memories. You took everything from me. Everything. Every good memory that I have since the age of 13 is tainted by you. My first cruise? Tainted. My first prom? Tainted. Every birthday? Tainted. Every event in my life that should have been completely happy and free? Tainted. You took everything from me, and even still, you wanted to take my life. And I’m over it.

I’m over it because I still have the 13 year old girl inside of me who still thinks she’s fat. Who cries when she looks in the mirror. Who wants to crawl out of her body when she feels food settle in her stomach. I’m over it because 13 year old me should have been a happy seventh grader, but instead she was taught to hate herself. That 13 year old girl grew up to be the same 19 year old girl that I am today. And this 19 year old still feels the 13 year old inside of me. And the 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 year olds. I feel all the brokenness. All the jagged pieces that don’t know where to fit. Some days I handle it really well. Some days I can kick you in the balls and go on with my day in freedom. But some days I’m crippled. Because 13 year old me is crippled. Or maybe it’s 17 year old me that’s crippled. But regardless, you broke me for so many years and I’m still trying to fix that.

I want to be able to love myself. Shocking, I know. You told for some long that it’s not possible. But I’m learning that it is possible. It’s more possible to live a successful life of loving myself than it is to live a successful life with you, because guess what. No one can live a successful life but also be tangled up in their eating disorder. But living a life of freedom and happiness while pursuing self-love is so completely possible, so that is what I’m after! I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year. I’ve eaten fear foods and made them my b**** (curse word sorry BUT SO TRUE). I’ve exercised because it makes my body feel good, but I’ve also stopped myself from exercising when I realized I was obsessing over the calories being burned. I’ve bought clothes to fit my new, beautiful recovery body. I’ve let myself cry and be mad at you/my body/my treatment team/food/the world. I’ve screamed. But that’s all part of this thing called living. It’s a new phenomenon to me, because you didn’t let me experience real life. But let me tell you, this life thing is pretty cool.

I know, I know, it hurts to die a slow and painful death. I know because that’s what you were doing to me. While I was malnourished and dying, you were thriving. The closer I got to death the more alive you became. But guess what. My recovery kills you. And it’s a long process. Some days I’m suffocating you, but other days I seem to have you on life support. The life support days are becoming few and far between, thank goodness. Each day I’m able to suffocate you a little more, and this is the control that I need – the control that you claimed to give me, but never did. Even though I claimed to love you for five years of my life, I know that I don’t love you. You love you. I hate you. I want you dead and gone. I want to live, so that means you have to die.

I don’t like you. I know that sometimes I say I’m going to rekindle our relationship, but we never get past the first date. Because it. ain’t. worth. it. You have this thing about making me seem like I’m the bad person, but let me just tell you, YOU are the bad one. You’re the murderer, the thief, the stalker, the crazy ex boyfriend who just won’t let go. And I am done.

I wrote you a letter very similar to this while I was still in treatment. In it I told you, “I’m fighting you now. I won’t stay victim anymore. I won’t give in to your every demand. I’m fighting for life and health, not thinness. So you have to move out of my mind, my values, my meals, my life. I’m changing my life to a life without you.” And WOW past SB was killing it. A life without you is the best life that I’ve ever lived.

I’m glad that I started kicking you out of my life a year ago. I’m glad that the only thing left of you is the occasional overnight bag. I’m excited for when you’re completely gone, but I know that recovery is a process and that healing is not linear. But just let me tell you, just because you have an overnight bag packed and ready to go does not mean that you still have power and ownership over me. YOU ARE GONE, SIR. You are powerless over me because now I have power over you.

So, just to remind you, you suck. It’s not me, it’s 1000% you. Five years with you was not fun, but this past year without you has been amazing. So don’t bother coming back. You’re still not welcome here and never will be again. I still hate you, and you’re still a scum-bag. You’re a bully, you’re controlling, and you deserve to die. I don’t need your fake love anymore.

Goodbye, Ed.

Sincerely,

Sarah Beth

PS. Did I mention that I hate you?

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To the Girl Who Feels Stuck

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To the girl who feels stuck,

You’re me right now. But I also know that a lot of other people feel stuck. So as much as this letter is to myself, it’s to all the other girls (and guys) out there who feel just as what the heck as I do.

You feel really stuck right now.

Like really stuck.

You thought you were doing great, you thought you were going 100 mph at everything, and you thought everything was under the control.

But then maybe you realized that things aren’t as hunky dory as you originally thought.

And that’s okay!!

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt to realize that you’re still human. That you’re still a human in recovery.

(PS, stop cringing at the “in recovery” part. It’s fact. That’s not going away anytime soon. Yes, “recovered” will come, but you’re not there. It’s okay that you’re not recovered yet. That takes time. Years, even. You’ve only been out of treatment for nine months. You’re not supposed to have it all together yet.)

Anyway.

I know that it hurts. It actually hurts a lot to be smacked in the face with reality.

You thought you were going 100 mph, and maybe you were, but you just missed a few turns along the way. Or maybe you were going 75 mph, so just a little slower than you thought. Or maybe even you were going 120 mph, so fast that you were being reckless and missed a few stop signs. Regardless, you’re not where you thought.

And just because you’re not at your destination yet doesn’t mean that where you’re at isn’t beautiful and good too.

Appreciate where you’re at right now. It’s not the end point, and it may not even be the middle point, but it’s still a good point. It’s still worthy of being at.

You might not be as far as you thought you are, but that doesn’t change how far you’ve already come.

Girlfriend, you’ve come so dang far. You’ve conquered so many hard things that you never thought were possible.

So guess what?

You can keep conquering things.

You’re going to keep kicking things in the booty because that’s just who you are as a warrior.

I know that you feel stuck.

You thought you were at point D, but maybe you’re only at point C.

But hey, you’ve already passed points A and B.

And being at point C is pretty dang awesome.

Being at point C does not make you stuck.

It just means you’re at a different place than you originally thought.

And let me let you in on a little secret.

You’re not as stuck as you think you are.

You have some things to work through and some lingering thoughts to tackle.

But you’ve grown a lot of strength and endurance this past year, so you’re going to tackle and defeat these thoughts a lot quicker than you would have a year ago.

You’ve grown so much, girl.

You’re moving mountains.

You’re not stuck.

Hear me again.

You are not stuck.

You’re moving and you’re beating things and you’re conquering and winning.

And you’re still doing that, even at point C.

Don’t be discouraged.

You’re doing so good.

Keep it up. Don’t give in.

Don’t give in to the voice in your head that’s telling you that it’s not worth it anymore.

If something is telling you to quit just because you’re not as far as you thought, that is a voice that is not worth listening to.

You are worthy of continuing.

You are worthy of continuing because you are worthy of winning in the end.

You are worthy of the victory.

You might feel stuck, but you are not stuck.

Where you’re at is still worthy of being at, and your final destination is still worthy of fighting for.

You’re rocking it, girlfriend.

You’re inspiring as heck.

You’re me and you inspire me.

Present me is being inspired by past me because past me was a total kick butt rockstar and I know that present me is still that same girl.

Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s totally working.

Keep on keeping on.

You’re doing it, girlfriend.

You are doing it.

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Oh my Jesus, I am so sorry

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I don’t know what to say.

All I know to say is I am so sorry, Jesus. You are King and I nailed you to that cross. I nailed my King to the cross. I nailed my Savior to the cross. I nailed the very thing that I am living for to the cross.

My heart is breaking. When I sat down to read the crucifixion story tonight, I prayed that Jesus would not let me just read the words. I prayed that he would make it real in my heart, that I would feel the agony of what my sins did.

And oh my sweet Jesus let me see the crucifixion in all its pain and darkness.

I am Judas.

I am the one who turns on my Savior and betrays him in the very spot that I often meet with him.

I am Peter.

I am the one who denies knowing Christ because sometimes the world just seems so much better because being a Christian is hard and uncomfortable.

I am Pilate.

I am the one who knows the truth, but still turns away from it and does not stand up for what I believe in.

I am the crowd.

I am the one who yells to crucify the Lord; the one who mocks him and spits at him; the one who denies that he is King.

I am the men who nail him to the cross.

I am the one who murdered my precious Jesus.

My sins killed my Lord and my heart is so heavy.

Who am I to be loved by the man that I killed? Who am I?

I don’t know.

But I do know that where sin runs deep, grace is more.

Time and time again the Bible reminds us that Jesus came for a purpose. He came with full intention to die on the cross.

He came and loved the people even though he knew that they were going to kill him.

He willingly died even though he knew that thousands of years later we would still be sinning and turning away from him.

He knew, but he still did it.

And that just doesn’t make sense to me.

But that’s grace.

Crazy amazing grace.

Tonight my heart is broken and raw because of what I did to my sweet Jesus.

I am broken inside knowing what I did to him, but I am full knowing what he does to me in return. 

Today is good, not because of what we did to our Lord, but because of what he did for us.

We don’t have to live in darkness anymore.

We get to live in the light as we wait for Sunday to come.

I am so thankful for this resurrection life that we don’t deserve to live.

But we’re living it, all thanks to a messy, yet beautiful cross thousands of years ago.

My Jesus, I am so sorry for what I did. But thank you for what you did in return.

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Approaching One Year

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Ahhhhhhhhhh.

That’s how I feel.

I can’t believe it’s already almost a year since I started recovery (330 days to be exact, but who’s counting?).

All year I’ve dreamed about getting close to the one year mark. I imagined it as a celebration – eating ice cream, living free, being so joyful. And I think it will be like that. Reaching the one year mark is really exciting and I’m so glad that I’ve made it this far.

But I’m also getting really anxious.

I’m an anxious person, so it’s nothing new to me that I’ve been experiencing anxiety, but I was surprised when I started having full blown panic attacks when I realized how close we were to all the important events that happened in my life last spring.

This time last year was when my treatment team decided that I had to either go to residential right then or go inpatient after my graduation. It was when everything went downhill as I was put on medical leave from my senior year and awaited my admittance date to Carolina House. It was when I was living in the worst days of my eating disorder.

It took me a while to name where my anxiety was coming from. At first I thought it was just because I was getting “close” to the hell of last year, and while I think that is still true, I don’t think that is the complete story.

My therapist explained to me that my anxiety and panic is coming from grief. Not only am I grieving all the life that I lost during my eating disorder, but I am grieving the loss of my eating disorder itself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love recovery. I would never go back to my eating disorder. But sometimes it’s hard to accept this as my new normal.

Grief is weird. It kinda hits you like a train and leaves you a little dazed. Grief makes you feel like you’re reliving the events that you’re grieving, but it also feels like you’re watching them happen from the outside. Grief. Is. Confusing. Especially when you’re grieving something that you shouldn’t (like your eating disorder).

In my wise mind, I don’t miss my eating disorder. I know the hell that it put me through and how it almost took my life. I know that it wasn’t glamorous or pretty or fun. I know that I know that I know that. But my eating disorder was my life for five years. It was my most used coping skill. It was how I lived. It became who I was. So recovering from my eating disorder was like losing myself.

But recovery is finding myself, my new self, my best self. And sometimes it hurts a lot.

There are days I miss my eating disorder so much. When I’m having a hard day, sometimes I miss being able to cope by keeping my stomach as empty and hollow as possible. When people post bikini pictures with their flat stomachs and thigh gaps, I miss the body that my eating disorder gave me. But I know that that was not my best life and that I don’t need (or want) to live like that anymore.

So getting close to my one year feels like getting close to freedom, but it also feels like getting close to my eating disorder. And I don’t want to be close to it. I want to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s real. Like, that was my life? I starved myself until I was nothing? I spent my summer in a treatment center? Someone had to check the toilet every time I used the bathroom? It’s weird. Sometimes I feel like I watched that happen; that it didn’t happen to me. But it did. So getting close to my one year mark makes it seem so real and so in my face.

I don’t want to relive my past. I sure as heck don’t want to relive my eating disorder, but I also don’t want to relive treatment. I am so so thankful for Carolina House and everything that happened there because I know I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for treatment, but I also never want to go back to that time of my life.

So I’m stuck in this weird place. I’m grieving as my one year of recovery approaches. But I’m also celebrating like crazy.

Like, I made it this far. I’m living a life without an eating disorder. So crazy and surreal.

But I’m also having to face and reflect on what life was like this time last year.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay and natural to grieve during recovery. The one year anniversary of entering treatment is like the one year anniversary of a loved one passing away. It’s hard and there’s a lot of emotions. But I’m not letting the emotions overtake me.

I can feel sad and angry. I can be mad for the five years of life that I lost to my eating disorder. I can feel upset that I had to enter treatment and that I missed my graduation. I can hurt because being forced to live in a new body that although it’s great and healthy, it’s foreign and confusing and not what I asked for.

I can feel these emotions and still celebrate one year of new life.

I can exist in both places at once.

So I’m going to grieve. But I’m also going to celebrate. I’m going to eat ice cream and thank Jesus and live my best life because recovery brings me so much joy that I never thought was possible.

I’m grieving and I’m celebrating as my one year of recovery approaches. The different emotions will eb and flow. And that’s okay.

I’m celebrating where I am because even though it may still be confusing and hard at times, I am so much further than I was a year ago.

And that (no matter the grief) is worth celebrating.

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10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Months of Recovery

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1. Recovery is worth more.

This was a mantra that someone came up with during my first weeks at Carolina House. We all held onto this quote like it was our lifeline. I wrote it in my journals, on my coping logs, on all the whiteboards in the house. This. Quote. Saved. Me. No matter all the emotions I was feeling or all the lies that Ed was telling me, I knew that the freedom found in recovery was worth more.

2. We were made to do hard things.

I realized this the first time that I completed my first major fear food meal and actually enjoyed it. Just a month prior, I didn’t think that it would ever be possible. But it was. I could do hard things and I could even enjoy them. Things weren’t as black and white as my eating disorder led me to believe.

3. Looking healthy does not mean you look fat. Looking healthy is a good thing.

I had to learn this one really quickly once I came home from treatment. Everyone told me that I looked healthy (PSA don’t say that to someone recovering from an eating disorder!) and I had no idea how to handle it. In my mind, healthy = fat. In reality, healthy = strong, life, happiness, freedom. I was becoming my best self because I was healthy.

4. Flexibility is key.

Starting college made me realize how flexible the real world requires you to be. I couldn’t always have designated snack times, so sometimes (a lot of times) I had to eat my snack in class or at work. Sometimes I had to go to the caf alone. I had to learn that I had to be flexible in order to thrive in recovery at college. My rigid, all-or-nothing thinking when it came to meal/snack times was not going to cut it.

5. BREAK THE RULES THAT ALMOST BROKE YOU.

Love Me More by Maggie Rose. Opposite action is literally your best friend in recovery. When Ed says no to ice cream, you get ice cream. When Ed says that pizza is too unhealthy for lunch, you get pizza. You have to do the opposite of what your eating disorder is telling you (even when it hurts!) because that’s how you find freedom.

6. Don’t let other people hold you back. You’re growing like a wildflower and you don’t have time for weeds.

Sometimes you have to make decisions for yourself that other people don’t agree with. That’s okay. Make the decision anyway. You are only responsible for yourself, not the opinion of others. If something is hindering your recovery, let it go. And if that makes people upset, that isn’t your problem. You have to put yourself and your recovery first. You have to grow.

7. Recovery isn’t comfortable. You gotta do it anyway.

You can’t only recover when you want it 100%. You have to choose it everyday, even when you don’t want to. Recovery cannot be based off of your emotions! You’re never going to be fully ready, but you have to choose it anyway. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable and it hurts a heck of a lot, but you have to keep choosing it.

8. Self-care self-care self-care.

Self-care is so dang necessary. Take bubble baths, journal, go on a walk, clean your room, watch Netflix, buy yourself a new shirt just because, make art, pet a dog. Whatever makes you feel whole and rested, make time for it. Sometimes you need more self-care than others. That’s okay. Whenever you need it, make time for it, even if it’s only for five minutes. Your mind and body will thank you.

9. You are not a reflection of those who cannot love you.

Your worth does not change. Your worth is not determined by those who love (or don’t love) you, but by Christ. Your worth is unwavering and unchanging because it is rooted in something much deeper than human emotions.

10. Sometimes surviving is all you can do, and that’s okay.

Sometimes you feel heck of a lot more like a work-in-progress than a masterpiece, and that is okay and so normal. Believe it or not, recovery is not linear. Sometimes you’re going to simply survive instead of thrive. That doesn’t mean that everything is downhill from here on out. Things will go back up eventually. You are not failing at recovery just because you’re having a hard time mentally.

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Why I Talk About It

16797198_1439386579428541_8573836054428766669_oPeople always ask me why I’m so vocal about my recovery.

I gotta give it to them, I guess it is kinda a weird situation. I was silent so long about my actual eating disorder, so why am I so obsessed with talking about recovery? Why do I want to talk about something that I was so quiet about for five years?

Well, it isn’t for attention. It isn’t for my glory. It isn’t to say, “LOOK AT WHAT I DID, I WENT TO TREATMENT AND BEAT AN EATING DISORDER WOW LOOK HOW GREAT I AM.”

It isn’t like that at all, and if it was, I would 100% give you permission to punch me in the face.

Really, me talking about my recovery isn’t about me at all.

I talk about it because others who talk about it are why I got treatment.

If you didn’t know, there is a whole eating disorder recovery community on Instagram. I religiously stalked it last year. And I mean I hardcore stalked it. I followed all these girls (and guys!) who had eating disorders, some still struggling, but most of them in recovery. I was obsessed with these people because they were talking about what I had been quiet about for so long.

I was amazed. Like, what? People actually talked about their eating disorders? They talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly? They even admitted that they had a problem?

I was enthralled. These people were so free, and I wanted that freedom. I wanted to live like they were. I wanted to eat Ben & Jerry’s with my friends and have pizza nights with my boyfriend. I didn’t know how they did it, but I wanted it.

Seeing these people living their best lives in recovery inspired me and pushed me to take my own shot at it.

If those people on Instagram had not have talked about their recovery, I would not have gotten help.

I mean that in all seriousness.

I thought an eating disorder was my life. I thought that there wasn’t a way out. I thought that I was destined to live that way forever.

But those people in recovery gave me so much hope.

I saw that they were living so free and open, and I realized that if they could do it, I could do it too.

Because I knew that they used to be just like me. They were afraid of recovery. They didn’t want to start. They didn’t even know how to start. But eventually they did. And it was hard. And it hurt like hell. But they did it. They found freedom apart from their eating disorders.

They used to be where I was. That meant that I could get to where they are.

So that’s why I talk about it.

I talk about it because if those Instagrammers had not have talked about it, I would have never been brave enough to seek treatment for myself.

But they talked about it.

And I got the help that I needed.

And now I’m getting better.

So I’m going to talk about it.

I’m going to be that person that those people were to me.

People think that they’re alone. No one talks about it, so sufferers think that they’re alone in the fight. But they aren’t. And they need to know that. needed to know that. I’m going to let them know that they aren’t alone.

I’m going to talk about it so that other girls and guys know that they can do this. So that they know that recovery is possible for them. So that they know that they are strong enough and brave enough and free enough.

People who talked about it helped me.

I wouldn’t be here today if those people had not talked about it.

And if my voice can help one person, then I’m going to keep talking.

I’m never going to stop talking.

Because it is time to talk about it.

It’s going to keep being time to talk about it until eating disorders are gone.

And until that happens, I’m never going to stop talking.

I’m not going to stop until everyone knows freedom.


Happy National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “It’s Time to Talk About It.” We can’t keep quiet anymore. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. 30 million people in the US suffer from an eating disorder. We can’t shut up about this UNTIL THEY ARE GONE. Talk with me. Learn more. Get screened. Educate others. Find ways to get involved and get more info at nedawareness.org.

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