Heart Check

Huge heart-check moment today. I’ve always struggled with ED and I’ve recognized, lately, that I focus on food more than faith. When your mind is so altered by your eating disorder, it’s hard to think about anything other than food. God, however, is something that, as a Christian, I feel should be something I think about more than food. Lately I’ve realized that He’s not. Today, for the first time, I was forced to make a choice between God and ED.
I’ve been on the road to Panama City Beach for about three hours now. The driver of the car, who is a pastor in my life, challenged me to memorize scripture. I should add that he doesn’t know about my eating disorder. What started as a simple challenge to memorize scripture quickly turned into a condition for food. He told me I needed to memorize and recite John 1 if I wanted to eat. I needed to make a choice between God and ED. I chose ED. I failed today and, to be honest, I am scared I will fail many times this week. I write this so as to expose my weakness, not only to encourage others, but also to challenge them. Where is your heart at? I learned, quickly, where my heart is at and it’s going to be a hard job to correct it. It must happen though.

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The Day That Changed Everything

February 9, 2015. It was a Monday. My only class that day was cancelled and I had nothing due in the next few days, so I wanted to go on an adventure. I called a good friend of mine who also didn’t have class. He picked me up and we drove. Far away. We laughed, we sang ridiculously to the radio, and we marveled at God’s creation. To me, it seemed like the beginning to a perfect day. Well…he had other plans. I had no idea, on that day, that I would soon be pressing charges against this “Godly man.”

We drove about two hours away into the most beautiful farmland. Open fields and livestock are some of my favorite things in this world. We found the most beautiful, secluded area. It was like our own little hideaway. It was just the two of us and our hot chocolate- completely silent (with the exception of the occasional ‘moo’). It was absolutely perfect. It was cold, so we huddled close and then… things began to heat up- in more ways than one. Lips and hands wandered. Kiss by kiss and touch by touch I grew more uncomfortable. I knew where this was going and I wasn’t okay with it.

Now, I am not one to keep my thoughts to myself. I told him we needed to stop. Now. I pulled away and he yanked me right back. “I’m not done yet” is what he said. Years of self defense and kickboxing did not prepare me for the shock of those words. I froze. I tried to fight, but the more I fought, the stronger he seemed to get. A gun was pulled and put to my head.”Sleep tight” were the last words he spoke to me before I fell unconscious. It was the hot chocolate.

When I came to, I was alone. The words whore, fat, bitch, and worthless were written on my body in permanent marker. I gathered my clothes, put them on, and walked. I walked until I saw a police officer. I waved him down, told him what happened, and got in his car.

Charges were pressed and a plea bargain was reached.

That day still haunts me. It caused me to revert back to poor eating habits and to abuse exercise. I started to starve myself again and run 75 mpw. I stopped being able to function and was essentially breaking my bones. The voices of ED told me I deserved to die that day. He should have pulled the trigger.

But my God is so much bigger than that. He loves me more than I’ll ever be able to love myself. He created me with a purpose and my life is not over yet. I am significant and I don’t “take up space in this world.”  I am not a whore. I am not fat. I am not a bitch. And I am worth so much more than what this world can give. It was the realization of these things combined with the help of a counselor and the support of dear friends, that I now feel comfortable to talk about it. Ultimately, I want to encourage other young women who have been through this. It is not our fault. We did not do anything to deserve what happened to us. We are beautiful, we are brave, we are strong, we are worth everything, and, most importantly, we are loved so tenderly by our Heavenly Father. Maybe punishment wasn’t served to your perpetrator, but there will come a day when Jesus will ride in on that white horse, and justice will be served.

Revelation 19:11-16

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean,  followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.

Our days are numbered.

Our days are numbered.

One thousand two hundred and four. That’s how many days ago I met her. She sat next to me in the cold, hard, metal chairs, staring nervously at the unattended podium. We waited in silence as the room began to fill. Some were laughing and some were crying. Some were hugging and others were standing, arms crossed, in the corner. The unattended podium was approached by a women wearing many years on her face. “Everybody take your seats.” Rehab.

One thousand and sixty two. That’s how many days ago we left that room for the last time. No looking back. Hand in hand and heads held high – we did it.

Seven hundred and ninety three. That’s how many days ago you held my hand as I lay completely helpless in the hospital bed. Relapse.

Five hundred and ninety eight. That’s how many days ago we said goodbye. Not for forever, but it sure felt like it. We never thought college would be in our future. Yet there we were.

Three hundred and seventy six. That’s how many days ago our knees hit the ground. Kate was gone. Relapse.

One hundred and eighty eight. That’s how many days ago I held your hand as you laid unconscious in that chilling hospital room. Little did I know, you’d never make it out of that hospital room. Overdose. Relapse.

Two. That’s how many days ago you met Jesus and that’s how many days ago I said goodbye. This time forever.

Fifty five. That’s how many days until I step foot into inpatient treatment.

Running Away From Reality

Running Away From Reality

This weekend has been exceptionally rough. Thursday I made the (extremely difficult) decision to return to outpatient treatment. Over the last few weeks I have started to relapse. It’s not bad yet, but if I didn’t do this, then it wouldn’t be long before it did get bad. I will still be going to classes and living my life, but I have to get help. Even though I’m choosing to do it doesn’t mean it won’t be hard. I don’t have my recovery partner this time. I don’t have my parents. I have friends who know, but sometimes they just don’t. I am convincing my self, the best that I can, that my God is enough. He can’t physically hold me when I’m weak or audibly affirm my efforts, but He has got to be enough.

Needless to say, I have been struggling a lot. Today I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I packed up all of my things, got in my car, and drove. I drove until I felt like I was no longer Rachel- a girl so stuck in her life that she can’t truly live. I drove until I reached a place where I could stop being me. I could be anyone I wanted to be for the day. Nobody knew me. Nobody knew my deepest hurts and struggles. I could truly stop and be with the only One who truly knows me. Today, I saw colors in nature I have never seen before. I saw huge open fields like the ones I was raised on and quaint little homes I was dying to explore. For the first time in a long time I was able to appreciate my Creator. I have always had a thing for nature. It is the one thing in my crazy world that is stable and unchanging. However, lately I haven’t been taking the time to stop and marvel at it. Today was a much needed wake up call.

I decided to get out and walk around a little bit. I parked my car in the parking lot of the church and just started walking. I found the college library and poked around (they have so many great books!) I walked down my favorite street in the whole town – church street. Let me tell you something. It was beautiful. Even though I was wearing jeans (and I have been missing my Mizunos for a week) I couldn’t help it. I shoved my car keys in my pocket and tucked my owl necklace inside my shirt and I ran. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, but I ran. I left all my worries in that church parking lot and I ran. For the length of that road and back, I felt free. If I just go a little faster and push a little harder, nothing can touch me. Not even ED.

When I got back to that church parking lot, sweaty and grimy, I felt so close to God. I sat in my trunk and cried, because I had forgotten about God. Sounds pathetic I know, but I knew, then and there, that God’s got me. He will be enough for me. He’s got to be.

Now, for the semi humorous part of this story. Picture this. A girl, wearing baggy jeans, a baggy shirt, and an owl necklace, sweaty and grimy, and covered in Jesus tears just chilling in a church parking lot gets hollered at in the middle of the day. “Hey baby. How much do you charge?” Not gonna lie. For a while I was pissed. It was guys like him who led me to sell myself for alcohol in high school (that’s a story for another post). But after 24 hours have passed I can see some humor in the whole situation. Of all people you pick the gross sweaty girl dressed in the least revealing clothes on the planet who is sitting in a church parking lot soaked in Jesus tears. Smooth. No thanks to you, I will be back this week. Thanks be, instead, to the books in the library.

Be filled with Jesus.

This is me: beautifully broken and loved

In order for anyone to truly know me, I must break the silence. I have longed for months to write about this part of my life, but never quite knew how. So, I am just gonna throw this out there and see what happens (It’s long so bear with me).

I am a recovering anorexic. Let me guess, you had no idea. It’s okay, not many people did. From the outside, my life seemed “perfect.” As a child raised in a tumultuous home where substance abuse was a daily thing, achievement and perfection were my coping mechanism. I have always been a type A person and I always found an astounding comfort in the things I was in control of.

When I say my life looked perfect, I mean that what everyone saw was a straight A student, a musically gifted person, and a star athlete. In reality, I became so obsessed with making A’s, perfecting instruments, and achieving PRs that I became empty and emotionless. The only thing I focused on was my performance.

Growing up, I depended on other people to make me feel good about myself. I desired to hear the words “You look great!” or “Have you lost weight? You go girl!” Taking care of my body became my passion. I thrived off of those comments. Eventually, extreme dieting and compulsive exercise consumed my life. I had gone from passionately caring for my body to passionately destroying it in a matter of months and, by the time I turned 16, I had found myself in the hell that is anorexia. The problem was, when I finally realized there was a problem, it was much too late. I began to fight, lie, and cheat to hold on to the one thing that had given me support.

I violently and uncontrollably spiraled out of control until I was unable to conceal it.I began fainting at school, at church, and at home. I was freakishly cold 100% of the time and nothing could keep me warm. My hair thinned and broke with every stroke of the brush and I was constantly tired. I viewed food as a necessary evil. My body was starting to become so robbed of fat that it was about to began eating itself for energy.

Unfortunately, my family was deeper in denial about this than I was. My youth pastor’s wife was the one who stepped up, not my mom. She rushed me to the hospital one night after I passed out while leading worship. I was there until my body absorbed enough nutrients for me to function. They attached wires to my chest that I had to wear for a month and handed me two brochures: One for a little place called Tapestry (a residential treatment center in Brevard, NC) and one for a local outpatient treatment center. I decided that as long as I didn’t have to be locked away in the middle of nowhere, I would go to outpatient treatment (I realize now that that little place in the middle of nowhere probably wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be in my head).

I spent about 9 months in outpatient treatment and, let me tell you, it was miserable. There were so many times I wanted to quit. My parents didn’t support me. They thought I was faking it and just wanted attention (how do you fake something like this?). Not having their support was harder than anything, but through that I learned that God is all I need. I lost my friends, I lost my straight A’s, I lost my spot on the track team, and I had lost my family. I had completely forgotten about God in all of this mess, but He soon became my everything. He is all we need and I will forever find my identity in Him alone- not in the number on the scale, or the calories I’ve eaten that day. Not even in the approval of others.

Disordered thoughts about eating and exercise will always be something I wrestle with, because recovery is a daily, an hourly, even a second-by-second thing. My parents still don’t support me and an eating disorder took the life of my only recovery sister, but you know what? That’s okay, because I have Jesus.

A lot of times (actually every time) when I tell someone about the battle I am fighting, they say something along the lines of “I am so sorry you went through that.” Guess what? I’m not. Not at all. Jesus broke me and took everything away from me in order that He may recreate me and teach me that He is my everything and that He loves me and I am enough in His eyes.

There is nothing left to prove and nothing left to perfect. I am who I am in Christ and that’s enough.

Rachel

In loving memory of Kate aka K-bell, Katerade, Katiebug, and KitKat