Lost and Found (part 4 of 4)

Part 1                                    Part 2                               Part 3

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In the midst of my eating disorder, I never thought that I’d be able to heal completely, but I did.  🙂  I am no longer bound by food or by the body image struggles that I faced during that time.   The thought to skip a meal or exercise excessively never – ever – once comes to mind, because I just don’t think that way anymore.

Gosh, it’s SO freeing!

Now I don’t want to make it sound as though I have it all together, or that I never have ‘those days’.  I am human after all.  I will have the occasional ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ day during which I just feel ‘bleh’ for absolutely no reason other than I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.  But, my friends, my entire mindset has changed over the years, and so I realize it for what it is: a ‘bleh’ day and nothing more.  I carry myself with pride, because I have learned to love the girl looking back at me on the other side of the mirror.  And on those occasional rough days?  I’ve found that doing something special for someone else – and therefore taking my mind off of silly insecurities – works like magic.  🙂

As I’ve previously written, I haven’t made healthy-eating or exercise a priority over the past months, since I’ve poured my energy and time into being a mom.  But as I was writing my posts in honor of National Eating Disorder Week, I paused a moment to realize that – even now –  I still feel ridiculously confident.  🙂  I’m carrying more weight on my body right now, but – gosh – I still feel good about myself!!  I still carry myself with pride and can look in the mirror with a smile on my face.     And yes, although I always feel best when I am exercising and eating foods that are good for my body, I don’t obsess over it when it doesn’t happen.

Oh, and food?  I love food now!  I cook often, because preparing food (especially cupcakes) is a way that I show people I love them.  The sixteen year old version of myself never could have imagined writing – or believing – that, but it’s true!

Eating Disorders have varying causes and many of them have nothing to do with the person initially wanting to be skinnier or more in shape.  But body image is one of the causes.  And in the society that we live in today, it’s no wonder why so many girls (and boys) are struggling with food and how they think it makes them look.

We are constantly bombarded with images that have been photo-shopped to perfection.  Models and actresses flaunt their seemingly-perfect bodies and lives, leaving us feeling ashamed and inadequate.  We think, if only we could be like that.

But I’ve written it here on my blog before, and I have to say it again.  🙂   You and I are not cookie cutters.  We are not gingerbread men, cut from the same mold to resemble a specific outline.

We are unique.

Contrary to what social media and Hollywood might have you believe, there is no one image that defines perfection.  When you and I look into the mirror, the woman looking back at us is beautiful, ‘flaws’ and all.  Freckles, frizz, curves, moles, thin features, thick features, and everything else we fight so hard to hide are just a part of who we are.  It’s society that has tried to tell us that these differences are what make us ugly.  It’s society that has tried to tell us that we need to be stronger, thinner, curvier, more fit, and ultimately free of every mark that would make us original.

But to that, I say how dare anyone tell us that there is an image of perfection?  We come in numerous shapes, sizes, colors, and backgrounds.  If only we could learn to embrace that!

I have learned throughout my journey – and throughout the years – that I am beautiful, because I am me. It is why I will never again fight to be a certain weight, to fit into a certain size, or to fit a certain mold.  I have learned that I feel healthiest when I am eating right and exercising, and so that is important to me.  But I don’t believe in dieting, restricting, or abusing my body to get there.  I believe in the journey to take care of myself (especially now as I am learning how to balance taking care of myself as a mom).

I don’t need to be more fit or five pounds lighter to realize my self-worth.  And although I SO wish I would have known all this years ago, I truly hope that my story will bring peace to even one girl (or boy) going through the struggle of an eating disorder right now.  Because sometimes, when you’re facing the daily struggle of ED, you feel as though there is no end to the struggle.  But there is…

I promise you, there is!  And there really is light at the end of the tunnel, and healing (complete healing) if you refuse to give up.  Just know that you’re not alone and that your baby steps will one day add up to a confident, healthy YOU.  Just keep fighting!

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I wish I could hug each and every one of you who have stopped by my little corner of the internet to read my story.  I am humbled that you let me share my story with you, and I’m so very grateful for your kindness.  You all rock!  

Love, Nicole

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18 thoughts on “Lost and Found (part 4 of 4)”

  1. I love what your wrote about us all being so different, and how we need to celebrate those differences! I have always struggled with finding the confidence that you wrote so beautifully of. Thank you for writing out your journey and sharing it this week.

    1. Thank you so much for reading! It’s often scary to share about struggles, especially something as personal as this. I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time now, but I was too terrified. I’m ultimately glad that I decided to write my story out this week, because I know that we can all learn from each other’s struggles and victories. 🙂

  2. I so enjoyed reading your story, Nicole!! You’ve shared bits and pieces of it with me through the years, and I can remember a lot of the memories/stories that you talked about (without ever actually being aware of what an “eating disorder” was when I was younger…I had always just thought it was simply a “health phase.”) I had similar struggles with my body image and weight during a certain point in my life, and I remember that feeling of being in control but also wanting so bad for someone to notice that there was a bigger problem. Crazy how that works! I love how you mentioned how freeing it is to find peace with yourself and with your own body…it’s so true! There’s absolutely nothing like it. I’m so much happier now than I ever was, and the number on the scale has absolutely nothing to do with that feeling. I know your story will help so many others out there who are struggling, as it’s so important for them to know that there IS hope and there can be complete healing if they only take that first step. Great posts!! Love you and SO thankful that there was a very happy ending. 🙂

    1. I wonder… Had I been more open about my struggle back then, I wonder if you wouldn’t have had similar struggles. Obviously, I wasn’t at a place to help anyone at that point. But still, only mom and dad really knew how bad it was (and because they couldn’t see into my mind, they didn’t know how bad the mental struggle was). As I read back on journals that I wrote during that time, I definitely remember how mean I was at times, mainly because I was so scared and overwhelmed. Thank you for being the awesome, forgiving ‘little’ sister that you were. 🙂

    1. Thank you for reading! I was so scared every time I hit ‘publish’ on my posts. I’m beyond grateful for the kind response the posts received this week. And I hope it helped someone out there struggling with the same thing. 🙂

  3. I love this! So well said. I am so glad that you conquered the eating disorder and that you are healthy and happy and being such a good example of body image acceptance to your son.

    A few weeks ago I said something in passing to Kevin about my pouchy stomach and I was mostly joking. But later that day I read something that talked about the importance of not making comments like that in front of young girls (but I think it’s just as important to acknowledge that disparaging remarks shouldn’t be made in front of boys either – so they have positive body images themselves and so they don’t grow up to expect flawless bodies in the opposite gender) and I realized that I need to really watch it. I want my daughter to grow up in a home environment that doesn’t even talk about size and focuses on health and acceptance instead.

    Thanks for this series. You did awesome stuff by sharing your experience.

    1. It’s SO easy to voice displeasure over ourselves, especially on the ‘bleh’ days. As I said in this post, even as confident as I am now, I have ‘those days’. But you’re right, our children pick up on the things we say, and they learn to – in turn – judge themselves harshly based on their ‘flaws’. I too want this home to be free of that kind of judgment and to instead raise Brady (and any future children) to live life confidently.
      You are going to do such an awesome job raising your precious little girl!!

    1. Of course, thank you for asking!
      (I had to pause a moment, because this is SUCH a scary thing to share. But I know that I’m not alone in this struggle; and if my story can help someone going through it, then I’m more than happy to share my experiences. I thank God that complete healing is possible)!

  4. Thank you for sharing this story of victory!! I also struggle with an eating disorder. Although it is nowhere near as bad now as it used to be, I still fight off panic attacks from time to time. When I was in high school I realized I had gained some weight (and I was eating pretty unhealthy and not exercising). In my quest to lose weight, it worked too well. I lived on 800 calories a day and got very very thin. I skipped meals to punish myself if the scale went up at all. I would eat rice cakes as my snack. When I got married was when the prison I had made for myself became unbearable. Years of counseling and the help of God were what saved me!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! I know how scary it is to open up and let others catch a glimpse of the pain. I also know how long the road to recovery is… We all have our own journeys and personal struggles. I can’t wait for a blog post from you one day, during which you can exclaim, “I am fully healed!” You will be in my thoughts and prayers, as I pray that those panic attacks go away… for good. But for now, I’m proud of you for seeking help through prayer and counseling. That is such an important step… but still initially a tough step to take!
      Thank you again for sharing, my friend!

  5. Thank you for writing such an honest series of posts, Ive just sat and read them all over my morning tea! You have been very brave, it is so easy to fall into this cycle of obsessive calorie counting, which I fall into when I feel low, and it quickly spirals out of control. Many parts to your story I can relate to. I hope that one day I can feel at peace about it all like you do, without the feeling of guilt and disgust when the personal rules you put upon yourself is broken x

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