Archive for the ‘real me’ Category

Welcome!

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.

 

KELSEY’S STORY:

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.

Except me.

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.

I recently got an amazing email from an amazing girl named Kelly G. Kelly is 16 and has overcome an eating disorder just this year. She says she “gives all the credit to God.” This is Kelly’s story:

“I never thought that I’d be the girl who hated herself, who thought she was so fat that she would starve herself just to be skinny. But somehow, somewhere along the line…I became exactly that. My name is Kelly, and I’ve had an eating disorder for probably about a year and a half now. And this is my story.

I, like many girls, wanted — and still want — to be beautiful. And “beautiful”, to me, meant stick-thin; that was my image of “perfect”. And I didn’t feel that I was that…and I wanted it. I craved it. My back injury made exercising painful…and so, I resorted to something else: I began to skip meals. I grew to hate myself for eating. I would make myself feel completely sick to my stomach to punish myself for eating. There were soooo many times I wished that I knew how to make myself throw up, just so I could get rid of the awful feeling, and the 100 calories I just put into my stomach. I was proud of myself when my stomach would growl; it was satisfying to lie about what I ate that day. I would lay in bed at night and just be so happy because I made it through the day without food…and no one even suspected anything.

I had several people tell me that Satan was in my mind and seriously taking over my thinking. But I brushed it off because I felt like I was in control of it; I felt like I knew what I was doing. I knew I was damaging myself physically, but somehow, I didn’t really care. I became brainwashed. I knew the not-eating was standing in the way of me and God. I knew that I needed it gone, but I just couldn’t let go of it; I couldn’t give up control. Not until I was happy with what I looked like. And I hated what I looked like. I would argue with people who told me I was skinny and beautiful. I couldn’t understand how they could look at me and think that I was beautiful and perfectly made, when I looked at myself with such disgust. I HATED myself. Everything about myself, I completely hated.

I knew other girls who were struggling with loving themselves, and I would try to have it all together for them; I would try to be strong for them and give them advice on how to love themselves. On how to accept themselves as they were. I would tell them that they were made exactly how God wanted them to be made, so why would they try to change themselves? God knows best after all. …But I was such a hypocrite. I couldn’t even listen to my own words; I didn’t believe them for myself. How much could they really take to heart what I said, if I couldn’t even apply it to my own life? I knew I was loved by God; I knew I had a family that loved me; I knew my boyfriend loved me; I knew all my friends loved me. And they loved me not because of what I looked like, not because of how skinny I was — but for ME, for who I was. …So why was it so hard for ME to love me? Why was it so hard for ME to accept myself?

I had a very brainwashed view of myself and what I “should” be. Of what I “should” look like. For a while, I denied even having an eating disorder. People said I was anorexic, and I thought they were absolutely insane because I thought that being anorexic meant you were like skin and bones. But I’ve learned that anorexia is a mindset — a mindset that I had. Sometimes I would ask myself if being skinny was really worth messing up my organs, or even risking my life. And I KNEW the answer was “absolutely not”, but I still couldn’t change my way of thinking. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t give up that control. Somewhere along the line, it had taken over the control; I no longer controlled IT — IT controlled ME. I was constantly planning how I was going to get out of eating that day, how I was going to skip as many meals as I could. It was taking over me, consuming me. And I didn’t want to be that girl; I didn’t want to be weak. I wanted to be the girl everyone looked up to.

But no one is perfect, and everyone struggles with something. And I struggled with this. I wasn’t letting God into my heart to help me with it. I still wanted to be in control of it — because I knew, deep down, that if I let Him have control, if I surrendered it to Him…He’d take it away. And I wasn’t ready for that yet. I tried not being so critical of myself for one week; just a week. …And I didn’t even last an hour. There is something so wrong with that. And eventually, it beat me down and wore me out. I couldn’t change myself; it was beyond my ability to fix. And I was TIRED of being consumed by it. I was TIRED of looking in the mirror and only seeing flaws. I was TIRED of being so physically weak and dizzy all the time. I was TIRED of acting like I had it all together. I was TIRED of pretending to be okay, when I wasn’t okay at all. I was exhausted and broken. It became less about control and more about what I needed — and I needed this to be gone. I needed it to not be standing in the way of me and God anymore. I needed Him. And I knew my relationship with Him was too important to sacrifice because of this struggle.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I woke up one day and it was over, that I’m now completely and totally free of this. Because I didn’t, and I’m not. Maybe one day I will be able to say that it is totally over…but not yet. But I DID wake up with a different attitude. I woke up and the first thing I thought WASN’T “how can I skip meals today?”. I looked in the mirror and my head wasn’t filled with thoughts of hatred. I can’t even remember the last time that happened.

I know this battle isn’t over yet; I know it’s not going to end overnight. I know I’m probably going to struggle with this for a while, if not the rest of my life. But my point is that right now, in this moment, I have something that I haven’t had in a long, long time: …I have hope. I can see God working. I can see Him changing my heart. And I am BEYOND excited about it. I’m starting to love myself for who I am. I’m starting to truly, honestly believe that I was made for a purpose, and that I was made the exact way God needed me to be made. I’m giving Him control of this — and He is taking it away. But it’s not bad like I thought it would be; I’m ready for it now. My heart is so incredibly happy for the first time in a long time. I feel free. I feel hopeful. And I can’t even begin to tell you how great it is.

My name is Kelly, and I haven’t skipped a meal in [over two hundred] days. I WILL overcome.”

Sometimes it seems like you look in the mirror and all you see is flaws. Your body seems to take on any mistake you make. Sometimes the person who is hardest to forgive, is yourself. You know you, you live with you everyday. You see all your flaws. See more than are there. But you never see your beauty. I see it. I see it when I look into your eyes, blurred by lack of food, swimming with sorrow, anxious with worry, pain of feeling unloved-inadequate-ugly. I see it everyday, in so many faces. You don’t believe you are beautiful. When I look past it all, into who you really are, I see someone strong, but someone vulnerable. Some one beautiful.

Hatred on yourself makes it hard for you to believe the truth when people love you. It makes it hard to love them back because you doubt their ability to commit to you. Why would they stick around when there are so many flaws in you. Maybe they see something you don’t. You are beautiful.

Mirrors can tell lies.

It’s your perception of your reflection. That leaves a lot of room for error. You don’t see you without all those misconceptions, without all those perceptions, reflections. You’re not even seeing the real you.

God does.

That could be scary for you. To think that an all-knowing God, would see the real you. A Natalie Grant song, written during her battle with Bulimia, says: “But you see the real me, hiding in my skin, broken from within, unveil me, completely, I’m loosening my grasp, there’s no need to mask my frailty, you see the real me.” And he still loves you enough to die for you. The hatred you have for yourself is the biggest lie of all. If God is truth, and he says you are beautiful, then beauty is really yours to keep.

Don’t define yourself by a number on a scale, by a number of wrongs, by a number of calories, or miles, or mistakes. You’re worth it. You have been given worth beyond imagine. Don’t sell yourself short by believing and acting on lies you hear, or see, or are told. If you have been told you are ugly, or unloved, or unworthy, or unclean. You’ve been lied to.

Take back the truth, there’s enough hate in the world. Don’t hate yourself.

Real Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpIFjdutQjY