Dreaming of Malibu

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If the stars were made to worship, so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence, so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness, so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high, so will I
If the wind goes where You send it, so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

I can’t. stop. thinking. about Malibu.

And Redding, and really just California as a whole, but Malibu. I’ve never seen anything like it.

If you didn’t know, I was blessed to have been able to travel to California twice this past month. A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend in Redding to go to Bethel Church, and last week I went to Los Angeles for spring break. And wow, Cali stole a piece of my heart.

I had such a blast in both places doing so many new things, but the views, y’all. The nature. The beauty of all of the creation. I still can’t get over it.

On Thursday of our spring break, Kayley and I rented a car and drove the Pacific Coast Highway up to Malibu and spent our day exploring the cutest little beach town I’ve ever seen. We stood in the Pacific Ocean, had a dance party on the side of a canyon, sat on top of a mountain, played on rocky beaches, and just had a really, really awesome day. One of the best days of my life.

And all I could say was, “wow.”

Seriously. Pretty sure at least 60% of conversations in Malibu started with “wow” or “oh my gosh.” We couldn’t find words to vocalize what we were seeing. All we could do was scream at the top of our lungs or happy dance or run or just sit speechless. It was beautiful.

At one point, as we were standing alongside Malibu Canyon Road, Jesus started talking to me.

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Malibu Canyon Road

I had spent all day obsessing over the creation, but I had yet to turn it all back to the Creator.

Mid-sentence, as I was saying how breathtaking the view was, Jesus stopped me in my tracks and said, “I made this just for you.”

He pointed out a short little palm tree in the gorge of the canyon and said, “I made all of this for you to enjoy. I made that tree just to make your smile. I formed this canyon with my hands knowing that you would come visit it one day. I made this for you to see me.

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This was the view that I was looking at when Jesus said the quote above. See that cute lil palm tree? Thanks, Jesus.

I was vocalizing all of this to Kayley and Jesus spoke into my heart again and said, “and I’m glorified through your amazement of my creation.”

WHAT!!

My speechlessness and inability to say anything besides “wow” is LITERAL PRAISE to my God.

He is glorified when we appreciate what he created for us.

He is honored when we give credit back to him.

He is worshipped when we stand in awe at what he has done.

That blows my mind.

Me standing on the edge of a canyon, dancing around with tears in my eyes, was praise to my Jesus. The amount of times that I screamed and said “wow” and made Kayley pull over just so I could get out of the car and take the scenery in was worship. Me looking out and pointing the creation back to the Creator was exaltation.

Me simply living and enjoying what God made for me was the same kind of praise that happens when I worship in a church. He is glorified just by me soaking in what he made.

What a good, good Father.

If creation sings your praises, so will I.

Jesus, your praise will literally ever be on my lips.

Let me never forget that the creation is yours. Let me not only see its beauty, but also see you in it. Let me forever be in awe of what you have made. Let me never forget that you created it just for me. That you thought of me when you made the mountains of Tennessee and the beaches of Malibu and everything in between. Let me forever worship you when I see the earth. Let me cherish what I have been given. Let your praise ever be on my lips, even if it is just a simple “wow.” Let me always point it back to you.

Amen amen amen.

Now, let’s go back to Malibu??? Please?

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to proclaim freedom for the captives // NEDA week 2018

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“May you learn to embrace the freedom that has long been your calling so you can liberate courage in others so they can do the same.”

Happy National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018!!! This is my favorite week of the year because it feels like Christmas for one of the things most near and dear to my heart. (PS, read all the way to the bottom to get a fun lil surprise!)

Really if you follow my social media, you’d think that every week is NEDA week because I never shut up about freedom. I am always so vocal about this. I live in a constant state of vulnerability and being seen for all that I am. And just YES to that. Yes to never being silent.

Early on in my walk with Jesus, he (and my mentor) proclaimed Isaiah 61 over my life.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

….

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.”

Isaiah 61:1,3

Those verses light a fire under me like nothing else. YES. Let me proclaim FREEDOM for the captives and RELEASE FROM DARKNESS for the prisoners. Let bestow on them a CROWN OF BEAUTY instead of ashes and the OIL OF JOY instead of mourning.

If my purpose in this life is to proclaim good news and truth to those around me, then heck yeah, let me lean right into that. I am all about it. Let me be an instrument of freedom and healing for my God.

I’m pretty known around my school and really just life in general for being the girl in recovery or the girl with the blog or the girl who shares a lot of her personal life on social media. And honestly, I am so so okay with those titles. This is what Jesus has called me to, so hallelujah that this is what I am being known as. Hallelujah that I am not wasting my purpose.

I was talking to my friend the other day and I told her that I am apart of the “Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown world,” so I am 1000% about leaning into and living in vulnerability. Which I mean, that’s true, Glennon and Brene are both heading an awesome movement of living authentically and being vulnerable, but Jesus led this movement first. LITERALLY JUST LOOK AT THE VERSES ABOVE. Jesus is calling us to live in vulnerability.

We are called to speak truth into others. To break each other’s chains. To lead others into freedom!!!

“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal someone else.”

This looks different for everyone for sure, but for me, Jesus has called me to be open and vulnerable through my blog and through Instagram. Through this, I have met so, so many amazing people that I have joined hands with and walked this journey with. I have mentored girls, helped people research/apply to/get admitted to treatment, and made friends all over the world (yes literally, the world–absolute craziness). Through my vulnerability and openness, I have helped walk people into freedom. And that is the most humbling, amazing feeling.

It is honestly the most humbling moment when I get a Facebook friend/message request or Instagram DM or email through my blog that starts with, “Hey so I know I don’t know you, but…” and then goes into how I inspired them, how I encouraged them to get treatment, how I helped them choose recovery. Literally WHAT. I am a mess of a human, and I fail this whole Christian and recovery thing daily, but Jesus uses my messy, rambling Instagram captions and creates them into megaphone for freedom for his glory. I don’t say this to toot my own horn (I really don’t know how my words mean so much to people I don’t even know), but I say this to show what Jesus does when you lean into your God-given purpose. It’s amazing.

It blows my mind and fills my heart with unexplainable JOY that this is the life that I am called to. My purpose in life is literally to help walk people into freedom. To say hey, me too. but it’s possible to get through this. let me walk with you. That is my calling as a Christian/friend/advocate, but it is also my calling as a future social worker. I CANNOT WAIT. 

Two years ago before treatment I would have never imagined that I would be where I am now. I would have never imagined that I would ever actually be in recovery and living life without my eating disorder, but I would have especially never imagined that I would be so vocal about such dark things.

The past year and a half has taught me that I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m ready to run straight into it. I’m ready to hand flashlights to those living in that darkness and say, “here’s a light. You can do this. I’ll be here to help and encourage and show you that you’re not alone in this, but you are capable of saving yourself.”

Hallelujah for vulnerability. Hallelujah that Jesus broke my fear of being seen. Hallelujah that he is using me as an instrument of freedom. Hallelujah for the freedom that he gave me. Hallelujah that he gives it freely to everyone who asks for it. Hallelujah for it all. 

I’ll never be quiet about recovery. This thing is too good. 

“I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.”


To celebrate NEDA week, I created a recovery-focused, empowering-as-heck playlist!! I’ve been hardcore jamming to it, so I hope that y’all do the same. 🙂 

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Thank You for Staying

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Dear Mere,

My bff. My soulmate. The platonic love of my life. My hero. My go-to, always and forever. I love you. I’m thankful for you. It blows my mind that I get to do this life with you.

Last week in therapy, my therapist asked me about the relationships in my life. She wanted to know who my healthiest, most beneficial friendship was with. Without hesitating, I said, “my best friend Meredith.” I went on to explain how amazing and life-giving our friendship is. And I can’t stop thinking about that. About how crazy blessed I am by you. About how wild it is that I’m best friends with a random girl in Virginia. About how much this friendship means to me.

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We were inseparable during treatment. We called ourselves Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the Dynamic Duo of CH, and a gazillion other nicknames that made no sense. We joked about ordering walkie-talkies on Amazon after they moved you to a different bedroom so we had to be separated for eight hours each night (complete torture). We begged to be put in Magnolia together downstairs, but they simply laughed at us because they knew we would never sleep if we roomed together again. We made stupid Snapchat videos during phone time making fun of all the weird rules we had to live with (lol @ all my Snapchat friends who were probably so confused by those videos because I had not “come out” about being in treatment yet). We watched Mamma Mia everyday until the DVD mysteriously “disappeared” until the day after we discharged #thanksMegan. We took the trash out together and played some rotten fruit baseball along the way (literally blessed that we never got caught because that was 1000% excessive body movement). We were loud as heck every night snack, but especially on Mondays. The house could barely handle the two of us together.

I’ll never forget that night in the hallway. You know what I’m talking about. If I hadn’t already known it, I knew right then that you’d be my best friend for life. You get me like no one else.

Carolina House discharged us a day apart (convinced they did that simply because they knew one of us couldn’t survive in res without the other). The day you left was one of the saddest days of my life. Saying goodbye and not knowing when I’d see you again after spending every waking moment of the past two months together was a punch in the gut like I’d never felt before. But the best days of our friendship were just beginning when we stepped foot outside of that yellow house.

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We’ve literally been through everything together. Recovery, starting college, navigating life away from home, making friends, almost joining Greek life (lol), falling in love, heartbreaks, friend issues, fighting with each other, happy anniversaries and sad anniversaries. We’ve danced on mountaintops together and cried with each other in deep valleys. We’ve seen it all and yet we’ve both stayed. Through all our arguments, through all the recovery lapses, through all the FaceTimes where all we did was cry. We stayed.

You’ve been the biggest constant in my life over the past year and a half. No matter what, I know that I can text you and vent about anything. It might take a while for you to reply, but you always listen and always always always validate. You’ve taught me what being a true friend looks like. And oh my, you have been the truest friend to me.

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You’ve stayed. And you haven’t ever considered leaving. I’m sitting here crying about that right now because wow, life post-discharge has been so brutiful. Beautiful in all the glory and joy that recovery brings, but brutal because life is just dang hard sometimes. And you’ve stayed through all of it. You have been a constant in my life that I’ve never experienced. I’ve never met someone who has experienced all the deep, dark messy with me and still decided to stay in the exact same position. Except no, you didn’t stay in the same position. You’ve only moved closer. You’ve gotten right in the dirty with me. You’re covered in the mud just as much as I am. You’ve said me too. You’ve said I understand. You’ve said I’m going through this with you. And that blows my mind.

Even when you didn’t have the words, you stayed. Even when I tried to push you away, you stayed. Even when I was less-than-pleasant to be friends with, you stayed. You stayed at times that I don’t even know why you would choose to stay. Your act of staying, of coming close, of getting messy with me has given me courage to stay also. You have selflessly loved me in a way that my words will never be able to explain.

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We are 546.3 miles apart, and yet you’re so present in my life that it feels like we are together everyday. We’ve only seen each other five times since we discharged, but each time we’re together it feels like nothing has changed. It takes someone super special to be able to stay that present when there is so much distance between us. And I’m so thankful that you’ve decided to stay present for me.

Knowing you has been life changing. Getting to walk this road with you has been the biggest blessing in my life. You’ve shown me love, grace, humility, acceptance, bravery, and forgiveness time and time and time again. You walk out your freedom so beautifully. You are my hero. @God, can I be like Mere when I grow up?? You’re a world changer. A truth speaker. A kind listener. A chain breaker. A goodness seeker. A peace bringer. A freedom proclaimer. A radical lover. A life changer.

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I’ve always known that I want to name one of my daughters Meredith. When you came to CH, I remember thinking, “I better like this girl because I don’t want her to screw up this name for me.” Now I am so excited to one day be able to tell my daughter about how she’s named after her beautiful, strong, brave, amazing Aunt Meredith.

I used to never understand recovered people who would say that they are thankful for their eating disorders. But now I do. I’m thankful for my eating disorder because through it I met you. Our paths would have never crossed if we didn’t go to Carolina House when we did. If we hadn’t decided that the risk was worth it to pull out of our senior years and put everything on pause to [hopefully] gain our lives back. The risk was so worth it. We gained our lives back. And we also gained each other.

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Thank you for staying, Mere. By doing that you have loved me in a way that no one else quite has. You jumped in right after me. You stayed with me. And you’re helping me climb back out. You’ve cried with me, screamed with me, and spoken some choice words with me. You’ve also laughed with me, cried tears of joy with me, and had dance parties over the phone with me. You’ve mourned with me and you’ve celebrated with me. You’ve stayed with me.

That means more to me than I could ever say. I love you so incredibly much. I can’t even say how many times I’ve looked at my phone background and said to whoever I was with, “I just love Mere SO much I can’t even handle it.” I don’t know what the heck I did to make God think I deserved you in my life. But I’m so so thankful.

Thank you for staying.

Always.

Thank you.

 

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healing words from a friend

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“I know about zero percent of tonight

But I do know a few percentages of you

And a few percentages of the season you were in and the season you’re in now

And I was just talking with Lauren about how frustrating it is

To have been in treatment 

Where you are finally learning that being emotional is healthy and learning how to process and how to find your voice and speak for your needs

You go to this world where you’re taught how to struggle out loud 

And then you leave

And society hasn’t caught up with the most fundamental and practical mental health needs of any human being

And you come home only to be “hushed” because society doesn’t do this the same way

“Struggling out loud is ok sometimes but not all the time”

“For maybe an hour but never all day”

“For some situations but not everything has to be something”

And you’re asked to put your voice back in a box

And they are unaware 

Almost blind 

To realize that the box is where you just sent ED

Self harm 

Isolating 

The demons 

The refusal to talk

It’s where you just sent everything you taught to come out of

And you set yourself free

And now people look at you and say “go back” without realizing it

And that’s hard

Fucking terrible 

Because at treatment it was ok to cry 10 times before lunch

It was ok to cry over “spilt milk”

In fact

It was almost required

It was acceptable 

Struggling meant healing

Because the silence

The shutting down

The “brushing it off and moving on”

Meant you weren’t changing

You weren’t growing

So I’d simply like to say

I see you

I know you’re growing right now

And I know that isn’t comfortable for our world

Not yet anyways

But don’t for two seconds 

You go back into that box

Because this Sarah I know

Gets to have every emotion

All day any day for any reason 

And it means you’re alive

And it’s hard to have grace 

And understanding 

For the people we love

And the people we know love us

When they don’t get it

When they are somehow functioning through the very behaviors and poor emotional care that literally has destroyed us at points

It’s hard to do it

But I know you will

And I know you know who you are 

And the strength it takes to say “I’m not ok”

You are a freakin warrior

And this was the longest stream of texts ever

I should stop now

Ok I love you”

|| texts from Evelyn, Feb. 3, 2018, 10:42pm

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thank you for getting me so so well. always. bffs even though we’ve only met like twice. your voice is powerful and I am beyond blessed and honored to be able to hear some of your words and thoughts and heart. you are golden.

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Missing the Vulnerability that Was Our Oxygen

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI miss treatment.

I get it, that’s probably a weird thing to hear if you’ve never experienced any sort of treatment.

But oh man, I miss it.

I miss waking up everyday to my very best friends.

I miss grumbling on gown mornings and everyone waiting in line to pee because heaven forbid you get weighed with a full bladder.

I miss gathering in a circle with everyone and praying before we started our day.

I miss being first table at breakfast so that I was for sure to able to get vanilla yogurt instead of nasty plain.

I miss the structure of my entire day being planned for me and knowing what to expect.

I miss a nurse giving me my medicine in a little paper cup.

I miss sitting in group four times a day curled up in my Disney blanket.

I miss making art in every free second that I got.

I miss nap time. Literally. 18 years old and I got to take a nap everyday. #blessed

I miss sitting in the rocking chairs on the porch and just dreaming of life post treatment.

I miss complaining of how disgusting Hermacita was but secretly loving it when she showed us attention.

I miss therapy sessions in the nap house (still no one knows why it’s called the nap house).

I miss looking for totem teddies at afternoon snack (I never got one till post discharge).

I miss watching the first 30 minutes of Mamma Mia every afternoon.

I miss the feeling of not being picked to do culinary group (HECK YEA, two free art hours!).

I miss playing Contact at dinner.

I miss doing Food & Feelings in pig latin.

I miss the excitement seeing the RPA walk back to the nurse’s office and knowing that she was going to get the box of our phones for phone time.

Heck, I miss my phone being locked up in a box all day and having only an hour each night to talk to friends and family (no social media though!). What a break from the real world.

I miss Phreddy updates at Community (or ommunity-cay as we liked to announce it as).

I miss finally being able to take night showers.

I miss everyone cuddling up on mine and Mandy’s beds in Dragon and having our nightly pow-wows before we were yelled at to go to bed.

I miss turning on the sound machine before we went to sleep.

I just miss it.

I miss the comfort of being there.

I miss the comfort of being able to fully feel my emotions, and having no shame if I randomly burst out into tears in group or at dinner or during phone time or even just sitting on the couch.

I miss being with people who get it.

Those girls were my people. Are my people. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have a good group of girls surrounding them in treatment. But man, I was blessed to have met so many beautiful souls, most of whom I still talk to and am close with today. They’re still my favorite people I have ever encountered in this life. No exaggeration. They are my people.

But I miss the comfort of our yellow bubble. I miss knowing that I always had 15 other people that I could talk to when things got tough. I miss the community.

Glennon [always] says it best. “I tell them that the first time I peeked out of my cage was in the mental hospital. Since it was a smaller world with gentler rules, I felt safe being vulnerable. People wore their scars on the outside, so you knew where they stood. There were no representatives there. It was such a relief to stop acting. There were rules about how to listen well and speak kindly. We learned how to dance and paint and write our feelings instead of eat and drink them. We held hands when we were afraid. I cried when I had to leave.”

Yes.

I miss living without a representative.

I miss simply being me,

emotions

and

all.

I miss being in a place where crying was okay.

I miss being in a place where no one thought twice if you were having a hard day.

I miss being in place where I was not expected to be happy.

I miss being in a place where I was not guilted or shamed if my day was cloaked in depression.

I miss being in a place where I didn’t feel like I had to apologize for being in a bad mood.

I miss being in a place where I was surrounded by people who were in the mess of it all with me.

I miss the vulnerability that was oxygen to us.

We lived with our hearts on our sleeves and we loved each other so big.

Because we saw each other for ALL that we are. Every single part.

They loved me when I low-key looked like an alien.

They loved me when I was depressed.

They loved me when I cried each week after family therapy.

They loved me when I was sassy in Food & Feelings.

They loved me when I refused a meal.

They loved me when I started smiling again.

They loved me when my refeeding belly was oh so big and beautiful.

They loved me when I sang Annie non-stop.

They loved me when I spent my birthday in treatment.

They loved me when they finally saw the real Sarah Beth for the first time ever.

And they loved the real me too, just as much.

I just miss being in a place where there was no faking it. No mask-wearing. No stuffing emotions down. Emotions continually poured out of each 16 of us, and though it could be overwhelming sometimes, it was so, so beautiful.

Nothing is more beautiful that living completely open.

And we did that.

And I miss that.

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The Valley of Achor // A Door of Hope

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What. A. Life.

Flashback to January 10, the third day of classes of the semester.

I spent all day on phone call after phone call, first to my therapist, then to my parents, then to multiple treatment centers all over the country, then to professors in my department at school, then repeat the cycle all over again.

I was set + ready + prepared to medically withdraw from school and head to treatment by the end of the week.

Things were hard. Not as hard as last semester (thank God), but the challenges of last semester left lasting repercussions that just made life hurt. There were a lot of changes to my life at school, and I was still slowly adjusting to my new medication and coming out of the funk that I had found myself in. Sleeping was hard, eating was even harder, and I was low-key crying at least once every hour. I was a mess.

After planning literally everything out–when my parents would come to move me out of my dorm, treatment admit dates, and bookmarking potential one-way flights to whichever city I ended up in–we decided to put all those plans on pause.

A lot of things contributed to that decision, but looking back, I can see God using that as a way to say Wait. I have something great plan. Restoration you didn’t believe possible. Restoration you didn’t know was needed. Wait. You’re going to want to be here for this.

So I waited. And things were still sad. I still cried. The adjustment period back to my new school normal was weird. But I put in effort in areas that I believed would help (blog post about there here). And boy, has that intentionality CHANGED MY LIFE in literally the past three weeks.

God has closed doors that were painful, but he has opened so many and done so many new things in this season that I can’t help but scream to everyone that will listen JESUS IS HERE AND HE IS MOVING SO MIGHTILY. 

Literally. Anyone that will give me a second to talk will definitely hear me ramble about the goodness of the Lord and his sovereignty over every situation, especially in this specific season of my life. #BLESSED

Just to give you an idea of how he’s moving, here’s a short rundown of some of the ways he is moving SO big.

  • Restoration. God is restoring things that I thought were broken. “He’s not just reviving, not simply restoring, greater things have yet to come.” YES. Our God is a redemptive God. And wow, he is pouring out the redemption and grace on me right now. Hallelujah.
  • Community. Oh man. THIS is where it’s really big. He has blossomed SO many new relationships in my life. Seriously. And these relationships are literally just falling in my lap in the most God ordained ways possible. Ways I never even imagined. God is answering prayers that I’ve literally prayed for since before freshman year in SUCH a tangible way. I’ve been crazy busy this semester because literally all of my time is spent getting coffee with this person or going to that club meeting or going over for dinner at someone’s house. So many friend crushes are becoming real life relationships, and so many people that I have never even met before are becoming so special and dear to me. My community has EXPLODED. I’ve never felt this surrounded. I am amazed.
  • Bethel Church. Jesus is wild. Living with Jesus is crazy. But it is SO GOOD. The trip is still in the works, but it looks like I’ll be hopping on a plane to California the first weekend of March with some of my ministry besties to go spend the weekend at Bethel Church. What!! It’s always been a dream of mine to go there. What started as a conversation about true healing in the Lord with a close friend turned to a hypothetical conversation about flying out to Bethel which turned to actual real plans. I’m still amazed by it. I’ve never been to California, but God has opened so many doors and I will literally be going to California twice in ONE week (this trip and then a few days later for spring break). Wow.
  • Apartment. When I went to Carolina House, I didn’t expect to meet my best friends. And I really didn’t expect for one of my CH best friends to move to Nashville a few months later. And I definitely didn’t expect to become roommates with that best friend. BUT JESUS KNEW. And in just a few short months, that will all become a reality!! Watch out world, Queen K and I are moving into an apartment together. We’re getting a sign that says “Eat or Die” to put in our kitchen. I can’t wait to live with my bff and lay on the couch with her and watch Gilmore Girls every night. This journey of recovery has blessed me in more ways than I can even count.
  • Freedom. Chalk it up to my last blog post, but I have never felt this free in my life. I’ve experienced SO much freedom since I met Jesus, but a part of my soul has always been tied and bound to the shame connected to my trauma. But no longer. Now I’m refusing to let it have a hold on me. It has no more power. I have never felt this light in my life. I can’t wait to keep stepping into this abundant freedom!
  • Conversations. This one definitely relates back to community, but WOW, have I been able to have some really awesome conversations! About Jesus, about mental health, about life. With strangers (now friends!), with old acquaintances, with some of my bffs. My heart has never been so full of joy and hope. 

As you can see, Jesus is blessing me SO big. He is moving so much that WOW my mind cannot even keep up. Literally I have two group messages with two of my closest bff groups and I feel like everyday I’m texting them and being like “listen to this crazy thing that God did in my life just now!!!!” 

And that is such a change from just a few weeks ago. Literally two weeks ago today was when I was about to withdraw from school. That is crazy for me to think about because I am literally WORLDS away from where I was then.

And that’s not to say that everything is perfect. It’s not.

Some things are still different and weird, and though I’m adjusting to this new normal and honestly thriving in it, it’s sometimes still sad.

Trauma is still hard sometime and I definitely had to walk out of my human sexuality class yesterday because it got slightly too real, but it does NOT have a hold on me anymore. I’m no longer bound to it. But it is still there and I do still have to deal with it.

And I really could list out other things that aren’t “perfect,” but why? There is so much good.

All I can say is that I’m glad I stayed at school.

I’m thankful for the uncomfortable changes that this semester brought.

Because I can say with 100% certainty and conviction that none of the things that I listed above would have EVER happened if things were still the same as last semester.

The changes that this semester brought has majorly pushed me out of my comfort zone, but God met me there. With so many gifts. He’s such a good father to me. He was like, “this is going to hurt, and it’s really going to stretch you, but here. Look what I have for you. Here’s the friend you met at church. Here’s the girls that reached out to you on Instagram. Here’s the trip to California. Here, here, here.” So many gifts that I never expected. So many things that would have never happened if it weren’t for the changes. Wow.

Jesus really took me through the valleys the past few months. But now he’s slowly but surely leading me up to a mountaintop. Halle-freaking-lujah. 

This has been one of the hardest seasons of life. I remember sobbing to my bff Mere on the phone on the first day of classes, “I don’t think that anything has ever hurt this bad.” And just two days ago on the phone with her again I said, “I have never felt joy or peace this deeply.” Yes, Jesus.

God broke me to rebuild me. And it’s been the most glorious process.

I have never felt joy like this because I have never been so out of control of what’s happening in my life, but still able to see Jesus in the midst of it all. I have no hand in what is happening anymore. I’m just watching it all unfold. I have given up all control to him, and wow. FREEDOM. 

I’m glad I didn’t withdraw from school this semester. I would have missed out on so many blessings that I didn’t even think were possible. But God knew. He knew what he was going to do.

I’m so thankful to have a Father that loves me so well. That pursues me like he does. He wants to woo his children.

Hosea 2:14-15 has been ringing in my heart all week and I feel like it really sums up my life right now.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

The word “Achor” means “trouble.” LITERALLY GOD WILL MAKE THE VALLEY OF TROUBLE A DOOR OF HOPE. Amen. Yes. Hallelujah. God took me out into the wilderness. He pursued me. He wooed me. And he made the mess of my life into so much pure hope and joy. 

Yes, Jesus.

I can’t stop dancing. I can’t stop talking about Jesus to everyone. I can’t stop asking the Holy Spirit to come and move. I. Just. Can’t. Stop. 

Peace be still,

say the word and I will

set my feet upon the sea,

till I’m dancing in the deep.

YES. I’m dancing in the deep with you, Jesus. 

Amen.

Amen.

Amen.

This song is my life song right now. All of it. The lyrics. Wow. Yes. “I’ve lost control but I’m free.” All the yes.

Hold out for Jesus, y’all. This season might hurt. It might be the worst season of life that you’ve ever had to walk through. You might feel so extremely alone. But Jesus is there. He’s waiting. He’s got you. Hold out for the promise. It is so unbelievably worth it.

(Also, just for completely transparency here, I’m sitting in the student center absolutely SOBBING as I write this. I am so overwhelmed by Jesus. And I’m listening to the above song. I am SO beautifully in over my head!!!!)

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Healing Started (even though it didn’t feel like it)

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For this blog post I will be following the same format as “What I Do Know” because #relatable. 


I’m not exactly sure how it all started.

I remember sitting on my boyfriend’s bed. Looking at a four year calendar, trying to plan where we’d fit a wedding in between college graduations and grad school beginnings and moves away from Nashville (NC, I’m coming for you!).

Our talk of marriage led to talk of children.

I wanted to adopt. He didn’t. We had had this conversation before. This time was different. The conversation escalated to “I don’t think it’s fair that you get to plan the rest of our lives based off of the fact that you refuse to deal with your trauma.” What? I had dealt with my trauma. It had been 15 years. I’m fine. I’m never having sex and that’s fine and normal. Leave me alone.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but things got hard. My nightmares that were a rare occasion (maybe once a month) became every night. I pulled myself away. I missed class and work and church because all I could do was lay in bed and stare at the wall.

If I left my room I wanted to be in the baggiest clothes possible. Maybe hiding my body would protect me from the abuse that I was sure would happen again. If a boy even looked at me, I cried. Johnson 374 quickly became the only four walls I saw everyday.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but one night I wrote my roommate a note. “I can’t hold this story inside me any longer. Can I tell you what happened?”

She sat in her bed. I made her face the wall. I sat in my bed, under every blanket I owned, and told her my story. I cried. I shook. My voice quaked. But I told my story.

Afterwards I walked on my desk over to her bed (best pathway to get over there). She hugged me. I cried more. I felt exposed and vulnerable and dirty, but I felt truly seen for the first time.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but my medicine stopped working. My low dose antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds could no longer stand up to the strong emotions that trauma brought on.

I became manic.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I drove to Kentucky one day without telling anyone where I was going.

I fell back into the same coping mechanism that I used when I first remembered the abuse when I was 13.

I cut for the first time since 2014.

I don’t know what I was trying to do. I don’t know if I was trying to numb my pain, or if I was trying to feel something. I don’t know. I don’t know if I was in so much pain that everything hurt, or if I was in so much pain that nothing hurt. I don’t know. But tearing apart my skin made everything stop, even if just for a moment.

It gave me a second to catch my breath, only to leave me suffocating even more just moments later. But the second was enough.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I tried to kill myself.

All I could do was feel his hands. I wanted out of my body. I wanted it to all just stop.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I drove myself to the psychiatric hospital.

My roommate sat with me in the waiting room for three hours as we talked to doctor after doctor. We tried to joke, we took stupid pictures to “commemorate the moment,” and we called two of my other best friends, but it was heavy.

One of the hardest moments was when they came and told me that they were ready to take me upstairs. Kayley and I stood up. She promised she’d go straight back to the dorm and bring me clothes and toiletries and my journal. We hugged. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to be left alone. This drop-off was a heck of a lot harder than the Carolina House drop-off.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I spent the next five days in the mood unit of the psychiatric hospital.

I journaled. I colored. I sat through stupid, unhelpful groups. I made friends. I joked and laughed and rolled my eyes at other patients. I watched way too much tv. I  sat on the window sill and eaves-dropped on too many conversations between the nurses.

My friends visited. My boyfriend, my roommate, my CH bestie, my old RAs. They brought my favorite foods so I didn’t have to eat gross hospital food. They loved me so well. They were tangible representations of Jesus and how he comes when we are broken and loves us just the same.

One night was hard. I wanted to cut. I doodled on my thighs as a way to calm my anxiety. I had written “I really want to cut right now, but I am not going to” in big letters across my leg. My nurse saw what I was doing. He brought me more pens. “I thought you might want some more colors. You’re being really brave right now, you know. Keep it up.”

My doctors changed my medicine. Things were looking up. I wasn’t feeling suicidal anymore. I felt sad and overwhelmed, but I just wanted out of those white hospital walls.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but I discharged from the hospital.

It was exam week. I almost made it through the week. I went to work, studied my butt off, and took my exams. I took my new medicine. I went to my appointments. But I cried a lot. And I stayed in bed a lot.

I’m not exactly sure how it all started, but my relationships began to fall apart.

It hurt. It was hard. It still is. Those relationships still aren’t here, and if they are, they aren’t the same as they were.

Everything happened so quick. Fifteen years of brick walls enforced with steel crumbled in the matter of weeks. I’m not exactly sure how it all started.

Except I do know how it all started.

It started when I was five.

It started behind my church.

It started when I was thirteen.

It started in the alcove of my bedroom, having a panic attack remembering what happened, convincing myself that it would happen again.

It started when I was fifteen.

It started when I decided I would adopt kids, because I was [am] too afraid of sex. I never wanted my body to be that vulnerable again.

It started when I was seventeen.

It started when I entered my first relationship and had to choose–will I deal with my trauma or stuff it down? I chose to stuff it down.

It started when I was eighteen.

It started when I woke up sobbing at Carolina House because I had my first nightmare of trauma, thanks to my brain being nourished and coming alive again.

It started when I was twenty.

It started when my boyfriend confronted me about my trauma.

It started when I became so sad that I stopped eating and going to classes.

It started when I wanted to keep the lights off all day, even though my roommate and I used to argue about how I wanted the lights on all the time.

It started when my medicine stopped working, but I was too scared to go to my male psychiatrist to get a medication change.

It started when I went to Walgreens and bought a blade for the first time in almost four years.

It started when I swallowed too many pills.

It started when I stopped sharing my location services with my friends.

It started when I knew the psych hospital was the only thing that would keep me alive through the weekend.

I know how the pain started.

But something else started–healing.

Healing started.

Healing started when I became angry with my boyfriend for bringing up my trauma, but later realized he was right.

Healing started when I let my story cross my lips for the first time to my roommate.

Healing started when I signed up for a Bible class the following semester taught by a professor whose doctoral thesis was on sexual abuse and how that affects faith.

Healing started when I signed up to begin trauma therapy.

Healing started when I got rid of my blades (again, and again, and again).

Healing started when I texted someone when I felt unsafe with my thoughts.

Healing started when I began searching for a new psychiatrist.

Healing started when I drove with P!nk’s “I Am Here” blasting.

Healing started when #MeToo happened.

Healing started when I read Rupi Kaur’s poetry.

Healing started when I decided that I needed to go to the hospital.

Healing started when I chose to eat at the hospital, despite a nurse upon learning about my eating disorder telling me “I can get you some fruit” because she assumed I would want that instead of the mac n cheese.

Healing started when I drew on my legs instead of cutting.

Healing started when I sat on the window sill and colored with my wacky shack friends.

Healing started when I discharged and came home.

Healing started when I was gentle with myself.

Healing started when I actually studied for my finals.

Healing started when I cried when my boyfriend broke up with me.

Healing started when I went to work the next day.

Healing started when I didn’t cut from heartbreak.

Healing started when I decided to live, despite all odds.

Healing started when I decided that staying was worth it.

Healing started when I decided that what happened fifteen years ago was not going to have a say in my future.

Healing started when I chose me.

Healing is still happening.

If we’re being honest, I still haven’t begun trauma work. I had to get stable on my medicines before I could. But I’m starting soon. And I’m scared. But I’m choosing life.

It’ll be hard and it’ll hurt. But I’m not going to try to destroy myself as a way to cope. I’m choosing to live, no matter the pain in the progress, because I’m choosing to believe that healing IS possible.

I haven’t believed that my whole life. I thought it wasn’t meant for me.

But I’m going to make it meant for me.

Healing is mine.

Healing started. Healing is happening.

Healing is going to be how my story ends.

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