A gentle reminder.
I came across a journal that I hardly remember writing about a month ago. Inside the first few pages, typical teenager drama. Then, bam, there it was.
"I have an eating disorder. I need help, God."
Writing things down has always made them feel more real to me.
This was probably the first heartfelt prayer I ever uttered. Probably the first time I ever really acknowledged that I believed in God. This was undoubtedly the first time I acknowledged that fighting battles on my own wasn't quite working out as planned. And by not working out, I mean life was completely falling apart.
That prayer was penned down in July of 2009 and to this day is probably the most honest thing I have ever said to God. For once, I wasn't talking around the issue.
The fact that I am alive and healthy 5 1/2 years later means something happened after that night. Something changed. I have never been the best at asking for help, but even as stubbornly independent as I am, there is something incredibly freeing about admitting that I can't do this life thing alone. I need other people. We all need other people.
Do I believe that God could have chosen to snap His fingers and me get better overnight? Yep.
Is that what happened? Not even close.
Would I change the journey that followed that night, even one little hair? Not a chance - even if this question is harder to answer some days than others.
Dealing with an addiction teaches one a lot about community, humility, forgiveness and the blessings that can come when we throw up our white flag, sell our islands and move back into a neighborhood to do life with other people.
I have been immensely blessed by a supportive community that encourages me every day - sometimes when they don't even realize they're even doing it. One word of encouragement can change someone's life. One acknowledgement of worth can make all the difference. One moment of celebrating together can strengthen someone to remember what he or she has been brought out of and remind him or her to not go back down the road left behind. One hard conversation holding someone accountable to stop doing what is ultimately destroying them can change everything.
Something I had to stop doing a while back was going to the gym. I still workout, yes, but every time I would step foot in an actual gym things would quickly get all out of whack. What would start as a 30 minute cardio sessions almost always turned into three hours of overtraining and obsessive habits. There was a point where I thought I would never be able to step back into a gym without overdoing it. I was terrified to go, but tomorrow I am going to go back to the gym. I have a friend who has recently started taking her workouts seriously. She and I have sorta become fitness comrades. We were already kindred spirits between our shared love for adult gummy vitamins and love of cats, but having a friend who takes personal health and well-being seriously adds a whole new layer to the concept of friendship. The coolest thing about having her as my fitness pal is that she knows my past, understands it and is not even a little bit scared to drag me by my nails out of the Payne Center if I try to take it too far.
That is friendship.
I am beyond thankful to have friends who encourage me to break through fear barriers. Fear can wreck us if we let it. What starts as fear of one little thing, can quickly spiral into a tailspin in all areas of life if we let it.
Sometimes our biggest fears can completely dissolve if we let people help us.
Sometimes what seems set in stone can have a plot twist if we let people help us.
Are there days where I still struggle with self-esteem and body image issues? Absolutely. Yesterday was one of them.
Are there seasons where those days seem to come more frequently than others? You bet.
But one thing hasn't happened yet - I have never been without a helping hand willing and ready to encourage me through my struggles. But I have to want that help. I have to recognize that neighborhoods are a nicer place to live than islands.
When offered a helping hand, all of us have a choice to either accept or refuse the community around us.
Accepting it, no matter how reluctant I can be at times, has always seemed to workout better.
From a young man telling me, "You are not a frying pan, you are a crock-pot," implying that there was more to my soul than the surface perceptions people had of me, (A phrase that my 16-year-old, insecure self clung to at the time)
To two, incredibly dear friends making me a homemade Edible Arrangements fruit bouquet to celebrate me being 5 years on the road to healthy and recovery from anorexia,
To my mom who can subtly pick up on the bad days and always knows just what to say to banish thoughts of those darker days from my head,
To my new found friend who doesn't want to let me sit in fear of a building full of fitness equipment for the rest of my life,
To the countless people who have shared their own stories with me,
I have never faced any of my struggles alone, even when I thought I was completely by myself.