The Story of How My Eating Disorder Recovery Began

This year, I’m celebrating 3 years in recovery from my eating disorder. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I should say about this process as I celebrate 3 years of freedom. I’ve replayed the day that I finally surrendered in treatment over and over in my head. So, I feel like I should share the events of that day:

Irritated by my treatment team, I spitefully quit eating that week in treatment. For the longest time, I was able to convince myself that my eating disorder wasn’t serious because I wasn’t underweight. Media gives us a singular image of what an eating disorder looks like, and it wasn’t me. I remember seeing my therapist that day. I was on a heart monitor at the time, because the doctors were trying to pinpoint a problem with my heart. When I sat down, my therapist said, “So I hear you’re not eating. Here you are with a cardiac condition, and you aren’t eating,” to which I responded adamantly, “I do NOT have a cardiac condition.” Little did I know that 30 minutes later, I would be eating my words. After I parted with my therapist, I started having palpitations. I went to the nurse with the problem, and called the heart monitoring center. They registered the problem and told me to call an ambulance immediately. When the EMTs got there, they frantically monitored my heart and came to the conclusion that I needed to be rushed immediately to the hospital. They were frenzied in getting me into the ambulance, and as they were, a peace came over me. I told myself that freaking out at this moment would not help, and that this experience was either going to kill me, or teach me something. So, with that in mind, I relaxed (as much as you can with a heart rate of 250) and accepted what was happening. When I got to the hospital, nurses and doctors rushed to me, and explained to me what was about to happen. They were going to inject me with something that would stop and restart my heart. They explained how it would feel and exactly what would happen. The nurse found a vein immediately, and commented, “I don’t know why they couldn’t find a vein in the ambulance… there’s one right here” They injected me and lifted my arms in the air. My heart went from beating out of my chest to stopping abruptly. I could feel myself starting to slip away, and my arms going limp, when I heard them call out, “Noelle! Noelle! Stay with us, Noelle!” I remember being impressed with the fact that they were calling me by my real name and not my first name.Then slowly, like a treadmill starting to speed up, my heart started beating again, this time, normally. 

Needless to say, the experience didn’t kill me, but it did indeed teach me something. It taught me several things actually. It taught me that you can do serious damage to your heart with an eating disorder over the course of 15 years, even without realizing it. I learned that I needed to listen to my treatment team, because they were just trying to save my life, and that if I really wanted to get better, I would need to do exactly as they told me, and eat exactly what they told me to eat. I vowed to take my treatment more seriously and to eat 100% of what they gave me, no matter what. February 4, 2012 when I sat down to lunch I giggled to myself to see that my lunch was a bowl of soup, full of red peppers, which I hate. I ate every last bite. It wasn’t easy, but when it was gone, I felt accomplished. I had done just as I vowed to do. Since that day, I have never looked back. I wish I could say I never struggle, but every time I eat is a challenge in one way another. Some days it is easy, and some are harder. Whenever I’m tempted to act on an eating disorder urge, I think back to that day. Remembering it helps me remember the power of a wake up call straight from God. This isn’t a joke, it is life or death. I need to take recovery seriously, every day. I need to nourish my body and give it the respect and care that it spent so many years lacking. 

So rehashing the story helps me remember, and maybe sharing it will help someone out that realize the same things I realized that day. It is so important that we take care of ourselves. The human body is fiercely resilient, but we only get one in life, so we must care for it while we have it.  

Read this as if my life depended on it…. because it just might

It has been so long since I wrote a blog post, that WordPress has changed their format, and so I’m writing in a completely unfamiliar page. Which is great (sarcasm), because this may be the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write.

I had a really awesome blog once, with incredible writing. I suspect the writing was so good because I was completely uninhibited about what I wrote. As I have grown more mature, have become a Christian, and am now newly aware of the vast-spreading nature of the internet, I am a lot more careful about what I write, because I never know who my audience might be.

This post is going to have to be on the more uninhibited side, because I’m writing about something painfully personal, and on a topic that many people do not wish to discuss.

At the same time, I recently discovered that I can no longer access that deliciously uninhibited blog I spoke of, because I don’t remember the password to it. I don’t have any proof of ownership either, so I can’t find out the password or reset it. With my motivation to write being seriously lacking, realizing that I’ve once again (this happens regularly) lost a great deal of my favorite writing does not help the situation. I am, however, writing this post purely out of necessity. I genuinely feel like my life could end up at risk, if I do not say what I have to share today.

I will begin by acknowledging that I have lived through some very difficult traumas. When one lives through trauma, we know what it means to live through a situation where your main objective is just to survive through it. And for many of us, we become stuck in survival mode, with our bodies and our minds functioning as if we are living out that traumatic situation every moment of every day, until something stops it. This is why I now realize that when I was living out a pattern of self-destructive behaviors, I was a survivor of trauma. When it happened, I was a victim, and in the years I spent in limbo, I was a survivor. I did whatever I could do cope with the reality in which I lived, and it was killing me.

change

I spent the majority of my time in residential treatment, trying to overcome these patterns of self-destructive behaviors, substance abuse, self harm, eating disorder, etc. That time was utilized to stop the survival mode I was stuck in. Once we had accomplished that, my treatment team and I set out to address the traumas themselves. While we made a significant effort, it was all brought to a halt when insurance decided to stop paying. I spent the year that followed, trying unsuccessfully to find a therapist in my area.

Luckily, upon moving to where I now live, I immediately met a therapist who was a perfect fit for me. I have been seeing her about a year, and this month we began, once again, to start addressing the trauma I have experienced in my life.

noelle

Me at 5 years old

As a child, I was sexually abused. I would try to skirt around that fact in this post for the sake of saving my family any embarrassment, but a dear friend who I have been in a abuse support group with recently confronted me about the fact that I had never stated this to the group. Am I avoiding it? I thought. How could I be avoiding something without even realizing it? When I went to my therapist a few days later, I thought that I would cleverly elicit a reaction from her to see if she too thought I had been avoiding the topic. When I came in that day, I plopped down on her couch with exasperation and said, point blank, “Well, I guess we should address the trauma… I’ve kinda been avoiding it.” Her response? “Yes, I know.” I was shocked! Even my therapist thought I was avoiding it, so it MUST be true. So, therefore, I must say it. I cannot avoid it any longer. That does not aid in my recovery. I want to be an active part of the solution, not the problem.

I don’t think I ever drew the lines before when I was addressing my trauma in treatment, but it has come to my attention that a common feeling comes over me as I address my childhood sexual abuse. I have an overwhelming, almost paranoid feeling that no one is listening, and no one wants to be bothered with hearing about what I am going through. I now realize that this is must’ve been how I felt as a child whenever I tried to tell anyone about what was happening to me. As valid as it was then, it is very possible that this feeling is irrational in my current situation. I do know that I have plenty of people who hear me, and who care about what I have to say. But even with those loved ones, I have a sneaking suspicion from time to time that they are annoyed by me, or tired of hearing about it. The feeling overcomes me, and it is impossible to ignore. I now recall exploding with verbal outrage on people who talked over me, or who I felt were not listening when I was in treatment. I became very defiant and more determined to be heard at any cost. I realize now that there is still a child inside of me who is dying to be heard.

Now that I am safe, I am recalling these things from an adult perspective, and I have asked myself, “What can I do now to ensure that I am having my needs met in a way I could not have done as a child?” The realization that I have come to is this: I now have a blog and an ability to write. I now know how to ask for help. And I now know exactly what to ask for.

That is my purpose for writing this post. I’m directing it specifically at people in my life.

images

It is very important in any interactions with me, at this time, and especially when I am speaking about my trauma work or how it makes me feel, that I am heard and validated. This can be as simple as saying, “I hear what you are saying.” or “I care.” or “Your feelings are valid.” They seem really simple and direct, and I know people in treatment who poo-pooed the whole “you’re feelings are valid” line, but I have always felt that there are so many instances when that is ALL people need to hear.

When I reflect upon all of this now, I realize that this could be a core root of why I spent so much of my life suicidal. I felt unheard and ignored… like I was a bother or a burden. Honestly, when I thought of taking my life, I genuinely believed I’d be doing my family a favor. That is why I feel like it is so important, at this moment, for me to hear the things I did not hear as a child. I spent the other night in tears, because I was feeling that same way, and it is so easy for me to come to the conclusion that no one cares, and everyone would be better off without me. I know it sounds extreme, but I have a pretty extreme mind. I’m doing the work I need to change, and it would also be really helpful if the people around me could do what they can to help me in this process.

So, that is what I need. I was a victim, then a survivor, and now… I am trying to thrive. And for me, this is part of the process. Thanks for reading, and for participating in my recovery. Hugs and love.

struggle

What Happened To Jennifer Lawrence Was Sexual Assault

This post is perfection. Just sayin’.

The Belle Jar

TW for talk of sexual assault, victim blaming, misogyny

You’ve probably heard about the nude photographs of Jennifer Lawrence that were leaked online yesterday. The leak also included nude pictures of Kirsten Dunst, Ariana Grande, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and several other women, but, naturally, it’s Lawrence who’s drawing most of the heat because she’s super-famous right now. She’s also known for being charmingly awkward and honestly if I had to place any bets I would guess that most people were hoping that she would respond to this with some kind of hilariously crass Real Talk about sex and her body and being naked. I keep seeing comments by people who want her to provide the punchline to this joke; what they don’t seem to understand is that this is not a joke, this is a form of sexual assault.

Jennifer Lawrence and the other women involved in this leak were photographed…

View original post 626 more words

An Open Letter to My Future Husband

I don’t know if any of you have heard of The Good Men Project, but let me go ahead and recommend them. I follow them on Facebook and on Twitter. They have some amazing articles that inquire, uplift, and inform. Today I saw one titled “An Open Letter to my Future Wife: How I Plan to Make You Happy Every Day of Your Life.”

Recently, I have been coming to terms with what it means to be a new person in Christ (yes, even 3 years into this journey) and to act like it when interacting with the opposite sex. I am so used to interacting with them one way, that I’m having to learn what it means to do things differently, in a way I’ve never done it before. God is basically reforming my DNA, which is no small feat. And, it is not without setbacks and screw ups. But He has made one thing very clear, we do things differently around these parts, and it is time I started walking the walk.

So, in an effort to imagine what my NEW future will be like, I was inspired to write an open letter to my future husband. I never dreamed of getting married in the past, but I suppose I should start considering it. I’m dedicated to this with everything I’ve got, and an open heart and mind. Here goes.

Hello there, future husband,

I wish I wasn’t at such a loss of words already in this letter. I’m hoping that isn’t a horrible sign.

I read a letter someone wrote to their future wife today. In it he promised all of these things that he would do for his wife. And I thought I would love to have a husband like that. Unfortunately, at this point, I’m only starting to consider that men like you exist, so hopefully, I’ll be more willing to believe when we meet.

That being said, I want to tell you what I will be willing to do for you, my loving, supportive, and stable love of my life.

There are lots of things I cannot offer you, because as they say “every saint has a past,” but I know you will be able to value what I can offer.

I will have an open ear to listen whenever you have something you need to talk about, and a shoulder to lean or cry on when things get hard. And whenever you need it, I will have an encouraging word. I want to pour into you as much as you pour into me.

I promise to always have an open mind and heart with you, to trust God and to trust you with my whole heart.

I promise to share with you everything that goes on in my life with a candor with which I can only speak to you and to God.

I promise to keep the passion of our youth ignited well into old age, to always have surprises for you, and to look at you the same way in 50 years as I did when we first fell in love.

I promise to let you listen to your music in the car at least 50% of the time, no matter what kind of music you like, without complaining at all about it.

I promise to do everything I can to foster a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy me, and a physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy us.

I promise to always consider your needs.

I promise to stay dedicated to the love of our God and to the love of our family, whatever that looks like in our life together.

I promise to always work on being a better communicator.

At this point, I feel pretty satisfied with the idea of never having children, but if you definitely want to, I am willing to compromise, because I know I will have your love, support, and stability throughout the entire process. I will not be in it alone, and neither will you.

If you decide to make a big change for the better in your life, I will support you with everything I have. I want you to be happy more than I want anything materialistic.

Most importantly, knowing that I can trust you never to hurt me, I offer you unconditional love. I do not take vows lightly. If I promise to stay dedicated to something, I will see it through to the very end, so even when you have the most difficult, ugliest of moments, I will love you through it.

I love you already, and I cannot wait to start our life together!

Sincerely,

Your Future Wife

marriage

 

Step 9-Making Direct Amends: My Letter to the Good Guys

change

So, when step 9 came around, my sponsor suggested that I write an amends letter to men, which upon my dismay she edited it to be an amends letter to the good men out there. Conveniently enough, I never got around to it. I never made that amends. Well, as those in recovery and anyone who believes in a loving higher power can attest to, sometimes God makes you do the steps that you didn’t want to do. With the #YesAllWomen and #NotAllMen trend going around, I thought this would be a perfect time to write my amends letter to the good guys out there, so I can finally release my bitterness. So, here goes.

 

Dear Good Guys,

Hey, I guess I haven’t talked to most of you before, but I’m Noelle. I’m working the twelve steps and a part of those steps is making amends to all people we have harmed (except when to do so would injure them or others). I’m 30 years old at this point, so I guess I should make a point of apologizing to you. I apologize for generalizing you, for lumping you in with all the men that have hurt me. I was wondering the whole time where the f&%$ you were, but according to my sponsor, I can’t hold you accountable for something you did not know was happening to me, so I apologize for blaming you. I’m apologize for grimacing at you every time I walked by you. That probably wasn’t very nice of me. I apologize for assuming all men are sociopaths, when the percentage is actually significantly smaller and you were out there being a decent human being with genuine feelings and a heart for your fellow humans. To those of you I’ve gotten to know on an intimate level, I’m sorry for treating you like dirt, just because that is what had been done to me. I realize now that you, too, are human beings and I was being just as low as the men I’ve held so much resentment towards all this time. I’m especially sorry to the ones who fell into love/like with me and I ignored because I was annoyed by your “neediness.” I could’ve found a more compassionate way to handle that. Overall, I just want to say I’m sorry for being exactly like the a holes that have inspired me to build this gigantic wall around my icy, lifeless heart. From now on, I will do things differently.

Sincerely,

Noelle

P1010856_2

God has recently made it very clear to me that I’ve been holding on to this bitterness for dear life, and it is time to let it go. I honestly do not know how to function without it. All I have left protecting me now is Jesus Christ, and I know that will be more than sufficient, but I feel naked nonetheless. So, this is me, making amends to the good guys, and giving my dear, lovely, comforting hatred of the male species over to God. He’ll know what to do with it. Because honestly, it never has actually served me well.

Photo on 2010-07-09 at 06.35

 

 

Risking Failure, but Stepping Out in Faith

I just heard a sermon about risking failure and stepping out in faith. (So much easier said than done, but definitely pays off in the end.) I’ve gotten one clear message from God about my pursuit of seminary, and it isn’t the best news possible. The single recurring message I’ve gotten is that I might not walk away from this with a degree.

Now, having once unsuccessfully attempted grad school, this isn’t the kind of thing I want to hear, exactly. But I do know one thing for sure, and that is that God has better things in store for us than we can even imagine. I would give anything to walk away from this endeavor with a Master’s degree, well, almost anything.

For whatever reason, be it selfish, or egotistical, or just simply wanting to have faith in myself and my ability again, I want that degree. I’d be lying if I said that the prospect of not ending up with one isn’t disappointing; but I also realize that I’m not in this process to to restore my faith in myself, I’m in it to grow in my faith in God.

My ultimate goal in this process is to grow closer to God/know God more intimately; to become like a seed planted on good soil; to exemplify the kind of life that a follower of Christ lives; to serve God, and to bring glory to God.

I’m just a baby in my faith. I’m coming up on 3 years since I gave my life to Christ. A lot of people know Christ their whole lives. I do believe I have something to offer in service to God, a new perspective, some definite talents.

At the end of the day, if I reflect honestly, I do believe that God isn’t necessarily saying that I definitely will not end up with the degree I want. I believe God is saying that this shouldn’t be my goal, or my focus. I do want so much more than a degree from this process. A degree needs to be a take it or leave it kind of deal. If I get one, great! If I don’t, I will walk away with knowledge and wisdom that are so much more valuable than a framed piece of paper on my wall. That alone needs to be enough.

Isn’t that true in so many situations? Our number one goal should be to seek God wholly, not to find satisfaction in things of this world.

Still, letting go of that dream will be tough. I resolve to do it, though. I cannot give myself fully to this process if I am in any way putting my focus and my hope in something as ultimately meaningless as a degree.

If you can, please pray for me in this process of letting go of my ideas of success; and starting on the road toward reaching the potential that God has set for me in this journey. Thanks a million!

Two New Prayers

One of my readings last week asked me about my roadblocks to God. I had said that I don’t let others’ hatred affect my relationship with God, but maybe I do. I get very frustrated with Jesus’ followers, and that can frustrate my own relationship with God.

The fact is, my relationship with God has nothing to do with anyone else. It is between me and God. I cherish the fact that only God can know the true level of my faithfulness. It is like we have our very own language.

Through my readings last week, both in the devotional I’m reading for class and in the book of Mark. I found two things that I want to pray for every day. In certain twelve step programs, they say, every morning you should wake up and pray for another day free from your addiction, and every night, you should thank God for another day free from your addiction. I’ve never really felt a connection to those prayers, as I feel completely set free from most of my addictive behaviors.

The reading that I had for class has a chapter/day on accepting Christ as your savior. But it also has a prayer option for people who have already done that. It basically says that you should thank Jesus for saving your life. And I thought, what a great daily prayer! So, my goal is to go to God in Prayer, and thank Jesus daily for saving my life.

In Mark 4:13-20, Jesus says: “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like the seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop–some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

When I read that, I thought, I want to be like the seed sown on good soil! Then, I decided that this will be part of my daily prayer.

Thank you, Jesus for saving my life. Lord, please make me like seed sown on good soil, so that I may hear the word, accept it, and produce a great many crops from it. In Your name I pray, Amen.

 

What is God Telling You Right Now?

I have an assignment to write about what God is telling me, what God is saying to me right now. Honestly, more often than not, I have no idea. Probably because I listen to myself more than I listen to God. I have a constant narrative of selfish chaos running on loop in my brain.

For those who don’t speak Christianese, there’s this prayer saying that you hear a lot among Christ followers. “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” Basically, we want to know what breaks God’s heart. We want to know how things going on in the world feel to God. I have prayed that prayer often.

See, sometimes people say “God hates ________.” This drives me crazy. I adamantly believe that God cannot, will not, does not hate. At all. God is love. Love can’t hate. Hate is a very strong word, and doesn’t belong in the same sentence with the word “God” unless there is a negative between the two. But sure, there is a lot in our world that HURTS God. How can there not be? God loves us so, and yet we do many awful things, the worst of which are done in the name of God.

I think a lot of “Christians” listen to themselves when it comes down to the truth about homosexuality. They’ve read the bible, and whatever trivial rules they overlook, they always highlight what it says about the issue. But when it really comes down to it, they don’t see LGBT people as human beings. They think it is a sin, and instead of seeing a human being, they see a sin. Nevermind the fact that if we were going to be going around calling people out by their sin, they wouldn’t be human beings either. 

I try to understand it, but I believe I can’t. I believe that God has placed an ache in my heart for the matter. I believe the way people treat LGBT in the name of God breaks God’s heart. We are ALL God’s children. Yes, of course, that means our LGBT brothers and sisters, but it also means the bigoted haters too.

I don’t know what God wants me to do with this knowledge. Feels quite useless, and quite frankly painful. I can’t handle the state of our world right now. In the U.S. we are quickly reverting back to the pre-civil rights movement days. And in the world as a whole, we are seeing treatment of gays that is reminiscent of the ways Jews were treated in the beginning of the holocaust. Why would any of us want to go back to that?

I’ll tell you why, because people make assumptions too much about what God is telling them. People listen to what they are told, or what comes up in their brains, and they honor it. No matter how it makes others feel, they honor it.

I want you to know that there are a large number of God’s children hurting on this planet, and there are a great many of God’s “followers” perpetuating that pain. And as much as either side sees the other as not being human beings, the fact is that they are. The fact is that both sides are just following their hearts.

I do not believe that it is okay, for any reason, to make someone feel, or to treat someone as though they are less than you. You do not know when the day will come when the shoe is on the other foot, when that will be you being thought of as less-than. As long as we’re quoting the bible, remember that it says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:40)

So, as long as your making any human being feel less than, you best heed their concerns of maltreatment. For however you treat them, is how you are treating your God.

And quit telling yourself that you are treating them with love. You are not. They do not feel loved by you. I can guarantee you, that is the last thing they feel.

So, what is God telling me right now? What God is telling me right now, is that God is hurting. That these things hurt God. And I believe that the magnitude of God’s pain far exceeds mine, but this pain is breaking me.

Now, what is He telling me to do about that? I have no idea. Because the situation feels, quite frankly, hopeless. I don’t feel like there’s anything I can do about it. Surely, there is something God could do about it, but short of intervening upon free-will, I haven’t a clue. So, I’ll just keep going on in my daily life, waiting for some great revelation about how to fix the world’s problems.

You take that whatever way you will. I’m pretty sure that this post will piss off either side in one way or another, so I actually hope no one reads it.

Trompe-l’œil: On The Devil’s Deceptive Tool and Deciphering Verisimilitude

These past couple of weeks have not been the best for me, but today was the pinnacle of that theme.  I won’t go into details, but it was the darkest day I have seen in almost two years.  My recovery almost slipped from my grasp, and I became once again certain that the good is all over and my life is more work than I am capable of.  For a few moments, I believed that my loved ones would be better unburdened by my presence in their lives.

The moment was overwhelming, and I am still reeling from the whole event.  I was feeling quite hopeless, but as I was driving home tonight, a thought hit me.  My sister and I had been pondering what could possibly the cause of my troubles.  Do my meds need adjusting?  Is it because I’m supposed to start doing trauma work with my therapist?  Am I going too long between meals?

The main question being:  What could be wrong?

The thought that hit me on the way home tonight was this:  What could I be doing right?

It is a common belief among those who share my faith that if you’re going through hard times, you must be doing something right.  The idea being, you are on the right path, you’re about to accomplish something big for God, and the devil is trying to bring you down, or stop you in any way he can.  Maybe, I thought, I’m doing something right, and the devil is trying to keep me from proceeding.  I had been looking at the problem all wrong.

So, I will tell you what I am moving forward with, now more confidently than ever.

I am applying to seminary.  I feel called to work in ministry with the LGBTQ population.  I believe there is a whole wealth of experience and spiritual growth for both the LGBTQ population and the Christian population, as they relate to LGBTQ people.  I definitely think the devil is, and has been for years, coming between a lot of people and their relationship with God.  The church has always been unwelcoming and unsympathetic toward the LGBTQ population.  And I resolve to be a part of changing that.

Also, I’m definitely going to address the traumas I have experienced.  Obviously, I can do great things once I move past these issues, and the devil is trying to keep that from happening.  I now have more resolve than ever about addressing my trauma.  I know I can accomplish great things on the other side of the work I need to do.

So, suck that, satan!

satan