If you’ve been following my campaign for a while, you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted anything in quite a long time. I am sorry. If you’re new, please take a look around at my about page and other posts. And I encourage you, if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, journeying to recovery, or have found freedom from the lies, these are all great reasons to leave me a comment or email me about YOUR story. This campaign is about the truth, and if you have any truth to share we want to hear it! I am only one part of the story of this campaign, the rest of the story is found in anyone else who has battled with self-hatred because of their appearance.
Today I’m going to let my darling friend of 4 years take the mic. Kelsey and I were nothing alike, (or so we thought), until we realized we both fought the same battles. For a long time I seemed confident, for years she seemed tough, and on the inside we fought battles of loathe and weakness as the lies we’d been fed became our only food.
A few months ago Kelsey offered to share her story here and I’m finally getting around to publishing it. I hope you find it as inspiring as I do.
Everyone in my family is athletic.
Not like, play every sport in little league and make all stars athletic. Like, pre-olympic training multiple state record holder athletic.
As long as I can remember, my parents, my dad especially, warned me not to eat junk food or get lazy because then I would get fat. They told me stories about girls who hit puberty and got so fat so quickly, so I better drink water/eat veggies/go to swim team practice/etc.
I never had an unhealthy lifestyle. I eat organic healthy food as much as I can possibly get it. I exercise fairly regularly and enjoy it and I drink water and tea by the gallon. But when I hit my teens, I filled out and got curvy pretty quickly.
Then came the small comments, the sidelong looks, the hints. I felt like I was in a spotlight with everyone, from my family to friends, watching and judging me because of my weight. I dreamt of being beautiful, of being skinny and it quickly became an obsession.
I’d read and heard about eating disorders. I knew the side effects and the dangers. I didn’t care because being beautiful was worth anything to me. So I decided to try it. I used details shared by survivors as well as dark instructions found in other places to learn how to starve myself, or purge what food I had eaten. [I will not share details so that no one else can do what I did and make this story a how-to lesson on getting an eating disorder]. So the cycle of binging and purging, starving and then giving in and hating myself for eating a sandwich began.
For years, it did nothing. I still don’t know what is up with my metabolism because even with eating disorders I didn’t lose much weight until I was about 17. Then I finally lost 10-20 pounds and people immediately began to comment and see me differently. I was thrilled and it drove me even deeper into my obsession. I wasn’t beautiful yet, but I was getting there.
Yet the deeper into the lies I dove, the more depression crippled me. I battled suicidal desires and fantasies daily, turning to cutting and running alone at night as a release from pain. On the outside, I maintained my good-girl front. On the inside, I died a little more each day. Eating disorders rely on and are founded in lies and lies will destroy every part of you. They will eat away at your soul and leave you hollow, alone, and broken. The lies will tell you that it is worth losing some friends, worth losing some health to be pretty. But what is beautiful other than our desire to be loved and treasured? Is it truly worth it to be what [you think is] the most beautiful if there is no one at all in your life to notice or care? I learned this lesson the hard way when I had lost the weight I had initially wanted and still saw a monster in my mirror. When I looked around and saw that I was completely alone…that no one truly knew me, much less loved me. I was starved for love.
I met a girl; a girl who’s personality was seemingly exactly the opposite of mine. She was a girly girl; I was a hardcore tomboy. She knew everything about fashion and makeup while I knew nothing. She was beautiful…small and light and lithe, a dancer. I was secretly, deeply jealous of her. Then shared tragedy, the death of a mutual friend, threw us into a deep level of friendship I’d never experienced before and I learned that she, my ideal version of beautiful, struggled with the same things I did.
Honestly, it was horrific. I had come to care deeply about my friend, and I couldn’t ignore the torture she was inflicting on herself. I couldn’t ignore that any word I said was pure hypocrisy; that I was right there with her. It was a black, terrifying time as I was forced to really see what I was doing to myself as I watched one I loved in the same place. Sometimes we fed each other the lies we didn’t believe about ourselves; but other times, even worse, we supported each other in terrible acts and habits. I desperately, deeply wanted to see her free of our lifestyle but even more wanted to dive even deeper myself.
It came to a climax one day while I was at school. My sweet friend was in such a dark place I was scared for her life. Not worried, or concerned but faced with the awful reality of how far gone she was. I faked sick (it wasn’t hard I was legitimately nauseous) to go to the nurse and text her uninterrupted. I didn’t know what to do…call her mother, call the police? If I did, would she go too far in despair that they knew? In absolute desperation I prayed; I told God I would do anything, absolutely anything if only He would save her. In that moment, crying about her, something finally clicked within me. The words and seeds from other friends trying to tell me what I had become, trying to pull me out, came to my mind. For the first time, I clearly understood that I had become a monster not because of my weight but because of my choices. Yet those lies, that lifestyle was still so incredibly appealing. I knew it was poisonous but I wanted it still. So I prayed again…simply that God, if He wanted me free, would please get me there because I knew I wasn’t strong enough. And that please, that He would drag my friend to freedom along with me.
And so started my long, arduous, painful journey out of the prison of lies and eating disorders. It was over a year before I finally began to feel free from the temptation to skip meals or purge. It has been almost three years now, and frankly, I still wrestle with the lies sometimes. With time, it has gotten easier and easier to choose the truth but that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I struggle with the looks and comments from my super skinny super athletic family. I struggle with my weight and figure. I struggle with lies telling me I’m not good enough.
But I have hope. I have hope because I am loved by a Savior who loved me enough to save me from that darkness. I have hope because I am loved by many, many others despite my looks and my tendency to believe lies. I have hope because of how far my God has brought me. I don’t cut, purge, or starve myself anymore. I have no need to despair, and I am not alone.
I’m curvy, even fat, but there are a heck of a lot of people who are think I am beautiful. However, honestly, I don’t care much anymore what people think. To my great joy, I am being used for great things. Whereas once I needed to be healed, now I am used to serve, help and heal others. That I am healthy enough to speak into others’ lives is the greatest encouragement of all to me. I’m still on this journey, but every day I am learning a bit more about love, beauty and freedom.
And right alongside me is my friend who did not die but also has grown into freedom. Whenever I look at her I am overwhelmed with how far she has come. She knows she is beautiful and free; every day I see her growing in Truth. In fact, she started a blog and a movement that is changing lives with her story, passion, and great love. Just as she changed my life. My beautiful sister Merry; whose blog you are looking at right now.
Merry and me, we’re not superheroes. Our stories aren’t way out there, once in a lifetime, nice but totally unrealistic. I’m real, I’m very imperfect, I’m me…a run of the mill, everyday girl not so different from you. I’m also free, beautiful, and loved. Remember that, remember that whoever you are, wherever you are on this long hard road, you are not alone and you are not a lost cause. There is hope and freedom even for you…even for me. Keep fighting, keep going, and keep getting back up no matter how many times you mess up. Skinny is a lie. You and me; we are so, so much more.