Hmmmm….. Where do I start?
I’m a positive person… so let’s start there.
When I hear people’s stories I am amazed by the tapestry woven in this world by each of us. Our struggles, our triumphs, our pain, our joy, our grief, our growth, our journey. It is incredible. I’ve heard so many of them. Some quite tame. Some more harrowing than even I have ever ventured to fathom. Everyone has survived some hurdle of some sort. Everyone started at nothing and transformed into a unique creature. And no two stories are alike. There are similarities, sure. That’s how we relate. We all have regrets. We all have stories that pain us to recount. We all have something to be grateful for, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, there’s something to be valued there nonetheless. It is beautiful.
When I take a step back from the canvas to take a better look, I’m in awe of God’s handiwork. The detail is incredible. And the colors… my GOD, the colors. When I take it all in, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude, because I am a part of this work of art. This makes me a work of art. This makes each of us a work of art. And valuable beyond words and beyond our wildest dreams.
Honestly, this blog post has been on my mind since I started writing again. This subject matter is what brought me back to my writing. And it is one that is very close to my heart. I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to disclose what I’m about to disclose. I know people are going to read this and honestly believe I’ve lost my fucking mind for sharing it. That’s fair, but can you lose something you never really had? That being said, this, like everything else I share here, and plan to share in my memoirs, affects me quite deeply. It is no different than my depression, or my eating disorder, or my addiction. I have a past that isn’t pretty, and its a mess, but it is a valuable mess. It has brought me to where I am, and despite the painful moments, life is so much better here and thus, I am infinitely grateful to have arrived where I am.
I think I’m going to start with the story, and tell what it is about at the end. Not to make you suffer for it (mostly heh heh), but because I’m reconsidering how I always deliver this information. And I don’t want you to get lost on the subject and either stop there, or not hear anything I have to say after that. I think that’s where most people get hung up. Or maybe I won’t tell you at all, we’ll see. My writing just writes itself sometimes, I’m just here to transcribe.
Let’s refer back to the fact that everyone has a past. I have shared far more of my struggles on this blog than I care to go back and read about. My archives are just that. You’re welcome to read, just don’t forget to focus on how the story ends. Because its a happy ending(ish). That being said, I have a trauma history that I am careful to disclose in little pieces when getting to know someone new. We typically don’t know each other long enough for them to know it all. They usually get halfway(ish) through. *Insert funny meme about depressing subject matter here, to soften the blow of this part,*
So… that’s about how that goes. (I’m trying to figure out how to follow that… positive… right) My life is the tapestry. Everyday there are many things to grateful for. I see on a daily basis how God works in my life. He reminds me constantly of how much He values me, and how GOOD He is. (I think I wrote that part for me.) And… then the past is dark. There’s the trauma, the destructive tendencies that came from them, and now… the medical ramifications of it all. This is where things start to come back to haunt me. I have an uncanny ability to forget the past. I forget the people who hurt me. I’ve forgotten most of my traumas. I forget guys most easily. I’ve had guys come back to me 10-15 years later telling me they’ve loved me all this time (super convenient for me, right?) and I have barely or not at all remembered who they were. Yesterday, I found a blocked voicemail on my phone from a “Mike” who proceeded to tell me that I was wicked and evil and to lose his number. It was weird because I have no recollection of who it is, and I had blocked and deleted him from my phone, so apparently I used to know. The funny part is that he told ME to lose his number. Oh the irony! Anywho, I am able to wipe my past away, and I believe God has blessed me with that. It is hard for me to beat myself up for anything when I can’t remember it anyway. When my eating disorder recovery caught up to me, my heart stopped working. I had medical ramifications. They were serious, but I overcame them. I am starting to have pretty serious side effects from years of taking the same meds. It is requiring me to address new medical issues brought on by that. Everything comes at a cost, right? But one thing I have because of my past that never lets me forget is herpes. It barely affects my life at all besides taking a medication for it daily. But I take like 13 medications, so what’s one more? I don’t ever have to think about it until I find myself starting a romantic relationship. Then it plagues me. When is the right time to say it? How do I say it? Should I say it? Should I even try relationships at all? Most of the people I’ve told up until 2018 have taken it quite well. It has never ended a relationship until now. Most people are ignorant on the matter, and I’ve memorized all the data to relay. I’d share it here, but I’m feeling real “who gives a fuck” at the moment now, so I don’t really care. I guess that part was redundant. Others know enough about it, to realize it shouldn’t be a concern with someone informed on the matter. My vision is starting to blur.
Allow me to refocus.
A lot of people get to my age and have shit. They have regrets, failed marriages, failed careers, kids to raise, they have a lot of stuff. Luckily for me, I have an advantage here, because I’ve worked diligently on overcoming my shit. I’m now doing better than the majority of normal people I meet. That aside, since 2018 began, this issue has come up for me. And it has been a hangup every time. I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong here. Like, have I suddenly lost value? Something about me just isn’t THAT wonderful now? Maybe I’m less interesting. Maybe people see my face and don’t really listen to a word I have to say anyway, so when they bail, they think “just another pretty face, the world is full of those.” Or maybe people have developed a superiority complex, or I’ve developed an inferiority complex. Maybe it is my delivery? Maybe it is my timing?
But the gist is that I walk away having taken a significant blow to my self worth. And I’m not sure I’m equipped to put myself in that situation again. So… I have two options in that case. Stop telling people, or stop being open to romantic relationships entirely. Obviously, I don’t consider the former a legitimate option.
Every time it happens, I recount every mistake I’ve ever made. It all comes back. Every choice. Every regret. “If I just hadn’t gone here.” Or “If I had never talked to that person.” And by the end of it, I am so daunted that I’m buried in everything I’ve ever done wrong. And it all looks like too much to ever escape it, Which is a really horrible place to be, because the truth is, I already HAVE escaped it. I’m on the other side. I am a new person. In these moments, I forget this. I forget my value. I forget my worth. I forget God’s grace, and the way God sees me. I forget that I deserve someone that sees me through THOSE eyes, and loves me in THAT way, and I really don’t need to waste my time on anything less anyway.
You know… I have these moments and I wonder what good God’s redemption is when I have to live out the rest of my life in a world full of people who only see what’s wrong with me, and with each other, really. If my mistakes will always define me, even though I’ve let them go. Again and again, I’ve let them go. What’s the point? Is there no escaping this? Will I be punished for my past forever? Should I just walk away from relationships entirely?
Luckily for me, I have my writing. Seriously, I realize I just poured my guts out, including a lot of TMI, but here’s the thing about my writing… People have ALWAYS read it and come to me and said “me too.” “You put into words what I’ve never been able to express.” They’ve related. I know from the research that I’ve done that this is an EXTREMELY common issue. And I know there are A LOT of people out there who suffer through this in silence. I seriously doubt there are many other people out there willing to share that. Since the beginning, one of my biggest frustrations about this is the fear surrounding it. It is shrouded in silence, and no one wants to say it, and so no one knows anything about it. And if people knew, it wouldn’t be nearly as scary.
So, this is where I come in. And my words. Because they are all I have, and that is where my power lies. So do with it all of it what you will.
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.