“To let yourself go, is to burn with desire and never look back.”
Each year, near this date, I reflect upon the evening I went to treatment; the anxiety, fear, and anger–with myself and those who “intervened” on my life–when I pulled open the heavy wooden doors and walked into a world for which I was not quite prepared. I’m always grateful to no longer be in that place, both physically and mentally, but I would still have moments when I would spend more time on that day focusing on the past than the future.
I tried really hard to be the “perfect” patient. Four years ago I felt like a failure as a mom, wife, and person as a whole so I didn’t want to be a failure in the recovery department as well. I had just been discharged from the Army due to anxiety and eating disorder, losing part of my identity in the process. My daughter was just over a year old and I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and, in moments, was certain she would have been better off with someone else.
From the moment I entered treatment at The Center for Balanced Living, I played the game and played it well. My meal plan was followed to the letter; I never tried to get away with having less for each meal than was meticulously planned ahead of time (and approved by a team of treatment staff), I didn’t attempt to purge while at the facility, and I didn’t hide my food. I always did my treatment “homework” and came prepared to be a “leader” in the group. The one thing for which I didn’t account at the time was how playing the game would ultimately delay true recovery.
The eight weeks I spent driving back and forth to Columbus for treatment was indeed a time of self-discovery. I was nearly 27 and didn’t even know what my favorite color was! I had spent my entire life playing a game; people-pleasing everyone until I was so drained, I neglected myself. I wanted nothing more than to be perfect in every way. I never wanted anyone to have a reason to dislike me or think ill of me; a mindset that has forced me to look back over my failures (perceived or actual) and stumble back down relapse road. By the grace of God, I am grateful I am no longer intimately familiar with “relapse road”.
This year, on the fourth anniversary of when I entered treatment (December 8th), I am working toward being more authentic than I have ever been; unashamed of myself, my beliefs, or desires. Just as the quotation at the top of this post says, I have slowly been letting myself go and burning bright with desires I’ve always been too fearful to have show. I’m tired of looking back and wishing I had allowed myself to make more mistakes in treatment; to play the manipulative part with the treatment staff openly, rather than storing it up inside and being manipulated by Satan. Well, I am manipulating myself and others no more and I’m not looking back on that time as a failure, either.
I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat artistic. Not in the sense that my amazing friend Megara Wiild is; but in the musical sense and I’ve always been afraid to embrace the “odd” side that comes with a more artistic brain.
- I like tattoos (and wish I had more than one).
- I want my hair to be a wild color and have started experimenting with adding “secret” colors to the underside.
- I’ve finally started dressing how I please (rather than how society says I should).
- I love God and desire to serve Him with all I have, with all that I am and to do so without concern for how others may judge me.
- Along with that, I prefer to cover my head for prayer or church service, as a sign of respect to my husband (especially when he is away) and honor to God–something most women no longer do.
- I, along with my husband and daughter, have been called to be long-term missionaries, sailing to Central America. This year, on the anniversary of entering treatment, we will be setting sail from Charleston, SC toward Central America.
- One of my deepest desires is to be a voice and a helper for other Christians struggling with mental illness who are afraid to seek help for fear of judgement or being told to “pray harder” to make it go away.
These are the reasons why I am burning with desire and looking forward–no longer looking back. This will be the last year I do an “anniversary” post because I have so much more to live for and I don’t need to continually look back and take “stock” in order to measure success. Recovery, as with everything in life, is a process and constantly changing.
Moving forward in the calling The Lord has placed on my life is the reason I have decided to end my Beautiful Body Acceptance blog. My writing – this blog – has been an invaluable tool for me during times when I could not process or speak clearly about what I was experiencing. I’ve lived recovery as a pretty open book, sharing the good, the bad, and the dreadfully ugly. Moving forward with life is what I am supposed to, and will, do. This chapter is closing, and the writing I hope to preserve by turning into a book in the future (with a few additional writings, as I have FIVE posts that remain unpublished).
My recovery has been anything but perfect, and that is what makes it so incredible. My faith has grown deeper and my desire to share it has greatly increased. I am going to live out Matthew 28, The Great Commission, by hanging up my recovery blogging hat and focusing solely on our mission work. I’ve discovered strengths I never knew I had and allowed myself to become the woman I was afraid to let others see…me.
I will leave the Beautiful Body Acceptance Facebook and Instagram pages accessible for another month before disbanding the social media accounts. Please, feel free to follow along on our family’s mission by following us at our sailing blog, Cay to Life, or on Facebook and Instagram.
Finally, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has followed this blog for the last four years. You have provided support, love, and encouragement along the way and I am grateful for each of you. I pray each of you finds solid recovery and the strength to stand up for your authentic self each and every day. xoxo
With Body Love,