After leaving the show, I had in the back of my mind what was to be expected. I knew the viewers were going to know a sliver of my life but nothing about what brought me to that point or what has happened since last September when I left. I talk pretty openly in my blogs about heartache and things that have shaped me over the last 4 years, however I have never publicly opened up about what defined me for almost half of my life. I knew internet trolls were going to put in their two cents on what they viewed on television, but I was overwhelmed at the support that people gave me. I began to see, once again, that people just want to be seen, heard, and accepted. In my experience, being transparent and true to who you are is the first step to being received. So here I am about to be very transparent with you.
I’ll start off by sharing a little of what has been on my heart lately. I follow several women on Instagram and see the comments that others leave. It breaks my heart to see women tearing other women down and men thinking they have the definition of beauty. As a human, you should never devalue another human being. As a woman, you should be building other women up. Body-shaming is never ok. You are a human? YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! You have blood pumping through your veins? You are beautiful! You have life flowing through your body and that is a miracle. You are beautiful but that doesn’t make a good person. You get to choose what you do with your character and who you are and that’s on you. However, most people I know are doing the best they can based on what they’ve been shown and their experiences. We all have so many things that mold us into who we are.
One of those molds that I tried fitting into for so long was the perfect body image. It started at a young age (13) just beginning to hit puberty. I was a scrawny kid and all of a sudden BOOM; I had hips, breasts, and a booty. I hated it. I hated the way guys started to look at me differently. I hated that I couldn’t fit in my sister’s clothes (we are built very differently). I felt ashamed of becoming a woman. I began throwing up after meals and thinking it was no big deal. I hid it well and felt like it didn’t really effect me. Fast forward five years, my best friend in high school and I talked about it and she told my boyfriend. I downplayed it a lot and at the end of my senior year, I stopped throwing up and I started boxing. I worked out extensively and lost a few pounds but I was already small so a little looked like a lot. I loved the compliments I was getting which motivated me even more to keep going. My sister got married that summer and when I was trying on a bridesmaid dresses, she commenting on my ribs sticking out. To me, it was a compliment, to her is was a concern. Once again, I promised everything was fine.
That year I moved across the state and enrolled in a 9 month missio’ns program. This is when it got really bad and I began to seek help. Looking back, I cannot believe the things that people would tell me.
“Oh, it doesn’t seem that bad.”
“It’s just a phase.”
I gained a lot of weight that year and felt embarrassed to see my friends. No one ever said one word to me about my weight but I knew it was more noticeable on myself. I left the program and moved to Vegas with my family where for the next few years I went in and out of my bulimic cycles. I would think I was fine but eating something “bad” would send me into a guilt trip and then a downward spiral where I would find myself crying on the bathroom floor over and over again praying for God to take this from me. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t.
When I thought I had finally gotten over it, I found myself working out 4 hours a day and barely eating again. The problem hadn’t left, I just chose a different bandaid.
I always lied to myself that it was under control and I was fine, but the lies from the disease screamed louder. I literally believed that if my body was perfect, I would have the perfect relationship, I would be more organized, I would stop running late, I would be a better person… blah blah blah.. How crazy is that?
I was the smallest I had ever been and was wondering why my boyfriend didn’t love me and why I felt lost in my life. My mental image of myself was so skewed. Deep down I knew the truth but I could not stop the cycle.
My first wake up call was when I started throwing up blood and passed out a few times. I was low on energy and constantly felt depleted.
I went to a homeopathologist to find out that my thyroid was messed up and my adrenals were shot. She began working with me naturally to restore my body to function again on its own.
Another wake up call I had was seeing the effects it had on my relationship at the time. He knew about my disease and I knew it weighed on him. I remember one time he made a comment about being scared to ever fully commit to me because what if I was pregnant and started gaining weight and couldn’t stop throwing up and lost the baby. I knew deep down he was right. I saw counselors and psychologists who specialized in eating disorders and never felt they got it. They didn’t get me or what I was going through. I hated it when my family would say, “I don’t understand why you can’t just stop.” They didn’t know how messed up my mind was and how every time I bent over the toilet, my tears would mix with my puke as I continued to pray for it to stop. Unless you have had an eating disorder, you do not understand the guilt and the shame and the compelling feeling to get it out of your system. Every person I paid for help told me that I would struggle with this my whole life. I refused to believe that. “My God is way bigger than this. I am created with way more purpose than this. I am stronger than this. I will defeat this.” I told myself this every time I heard that.
As I got closer to healing the struggle got worse. I got out of a relationship, quit my job, and booked a one way ticket to Africa. Maybe I can heal if I am across the world. My problems won’t follow me there… well they did. I found myself throwing up at hostels or in bus stops. I wanted to enjoy all the places I visited and the cultures and the food, so I finally said F it. I’d rather be fat. Well, I ended up being gone for several months and gaining a lot of weight again. Once again, I was embarrassed to come home. I had no choice.
Everyone was so excited to see me and didn’t mention anything about my weight. I was at least 20 lbs over what I was used to and somehow dating more than I ever had. I went on dates with very attractive men who were very kind, and I felt they deserved someone thinner and better than me. I always ended it knowing I was still healing and only seeking validation.
That fall I found myself going back to Africa to live in the Serengeti for 5 months. It was hard to maintain a healthy routine there and I felt something was going to break in me soon. I started writing again and pleading with God every night. Even if I wasn’t physically participating in my eating disorder, my mind and spirit were still diseased.
“Break every chain, break every chain, break every chain…” I would fall asleep to this every night and spoke it over my life.
One day I woke up and I just knew that I was done….. My dad asked if he could Skype me that afternoon and told me he had been talking to a friend at work telling him about me and he felt the Spirit tell him I was free. “Dad, I felt it too!” I got off the phone and tears of joy streamed down my face because I knew that was God’s way of confirming it.
The next two years I spent trying to restore balance to my life and find a lifestyle that fits me. I fell on some other bandaids along the way, but I was eventually was able to rip them all off. It has been a struggle and a huge growing experience. I struggled for 15 years, and I am so blessed to say that bulimia is not only no longer a part of my life but not even a thought in my mind. The healing was much deeper and I had to face a lot fears, doubts, and lies. Some those lies were from my personal life but a lot were from society of what beauty is. I love that I am now transparent and authentic to who I am. I am still unorganized, late most of the time, and a little clumsy. I am also passionate, driven, raw, loving, and beautiful.
I guess I am writing this because you never know what someone is going through. I felt alone for most of my journey to healing. I didn’t fit in spiritually, physically I didn’t accept myself so I thought no one else could, and my mind was a constant battlefield. I know there is power in sharing our stories. Feel free to reach out and share your story with me. You are not alone. Maybe all of our journeys are different, but we are all on a journey.
If you are someone who has been where I have been just know…
You are more than enough. There is healing. There is complete freedom. You are so loved.
If you are someone who feels the needs to compare or judge…
there is healing and you are so loved too!
(Sorry for any spelling or grammar errors. I felt the need to share it and I’m walking into work, so I’ll clean it up later!)
“Make my messes matter
make this chaos count
let every little fracture in me shatter out loud”
– Sleeping at Last