Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Story

High school.  Yuck.  I wouldn't go back if you paid me.  In fact, I'd probably rather take a bullet to the kneecap than go back.  Seriously.  It's not that I was bullied, or shoved into lockers, or didn't have friends.  I had friends, in most every social group.  But it was still miserable.  I remember at graduation (I had already been a full time college student for a semester), people were crying and taking about a zillion pictures.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.  And tears?  Not from these hazel beauties!  In hindsight, I wish that I had maybe taken a few pictures; I'm not certain that more than one exists of me in my purple cap and gown.
I think high school was so miserable for me because I didn't feel like I really fit in anywhere.  Like I said, I had friends in most every social group, but I didn't ever feel like there was a place I could really be myself, not that any high school student really knows who they are.  I used to think that my long time friends all of a sudden were too cool to invite me to their parties, but my constant time spent with my boyfriend was probably partially to blame.  I made new friends, but never felt a real sense of belonging.  My deep-seeded, nagging, insecurities that were always right on the surface were most likely at fault.  I never felt like I measured up to those around me.  I was never good enough at anything.  How could I have felt comfortable anywhere if I didn't even feel comfortable in my own skin?  I was constantly whining about being fat, while picking at my lunch of fat free cottage cheese and diet soda, bones protruding from every area.  That had to be annoying.  Maybe no one understood that what I saw in the mirror was actually a morbidly obese version of my gaunt self.
My eating disorder began much earlier than anyone probably realized.  It began much later, however, than my poor self-image did.  I don't really remember the very first day that I became an eating disordered person.  I suppose it just gradually became more and more severe.  My first hospitalization came after a quick and drastic weight loss when I was in the seventh grade and lasted 40 days.  My 5'6" frame was whittled down to just 89 lbs.  I was certain my parents just wanted to make me fat.  I thought they just wanted a break from me.... they probably needed one.  When you're a teenager, the world can sit pretty heavily atop your shoulders.  So my first hospital stay was not taken seriously at all.  Even though I was so dangerously thin I had to be in a wheel chair (the doctors were worried that just walking may give me a heart attack), I used this time to learn new tricks-of-the-trade and made a few friends.

I came home thinner than when I left.  The nurses were probably happy to get rid of this drama-filled child who thought she knew everything about everything.  My parents banned me from exercise and chewing gum, per the doctor's instructions, and were at a complete loss for what to do with me.  I'm not sure if they believed that I was getting better, or if I just got better at hiding the truth.  Purging up to seven times a day.  Throwing up blood.  Skipping meals.  Abusing diet pills.  I spent some time in an unhealthy relationship, but I'll spare you the details on that.  I was hospitalized several more times throughout high school, one time in eleventh grade after a suicide attempt.  I am alive today due only to divine intervention.
Looking back, it all seems so surreal.  Like it was a hundred lifetimes ago... a hundred selves ago.  Like maybe it wasn't even my life at all.  That bratty, spoiled, ungrateful, entitled teenager who felt like everyone was out to destroy her life and make her fat... that was me? 

The road to recovery was no cake walk (although I'm not really certain what a cake walk even is... since we're being honest).  I had spurts of health, trying to diagnose and cure all my friends who I felt were doing something unhealthy, focusing all my attention outward instead of in.  But I would always fall right back into my self-destructive behavior.  Blacking out in public places, knuckles always covered in bloody teeth marks, shaking uncontrollably, hair falling out.  My doctors and counselors and parents tried everything from fear and threats to love and logic.  I didn't listen.

I think part of the problem was that I identified myself with my disease.  Anorexia and Bulimia weren't just a behavior anymore.  They had become intertwined into the deepest part of me, without me even knowing it.  What I didn't know was that this awful disease, this addiction, was controlling me... even though I thought I was the one in control.
When I met my husband, I was gradually able to be myself.  He taught me that it was okay to lounge around in sweats and a T-Shirt (although maybe he regrets this lesson), he taught me to be able to listen when he told me I was beautiful.  It was this new amazing relationship, paired with my determination to grow up and get healthy, all chocolate coated in God's love, that got me through.  I was finally able to forget about the perfect girl I trying so hard to be, and actually learn who I was.  I was able to learn who I was without the eating disorder.  Without the obsessions and compulsions.  I was able to look in the mirror and see what was really there.  I learned to love myself.
I didn't exactly become the picture of perfect health at the time of recovery, but I became carefree and happy.  And that means more to me than any number on any scale.  And it still does.  So would I go back to high school?  Would I walk the halls that, to me, scream sickness and judgement?  No way.  But I have recently decided that I will probably go to my ten-year reunion next year, which is a huge change in attitude from several years ago.  And the thing is, I don't really care about the opinions of girls that are still living like they are in high school, still trying to be too-perfect and flaunting their all-but-perfect bodies.  I don't need to measure up to anyone elses standards but my own.

I don't have to have the nicest house, the newest car, or the most expensive wardrobe.  What I have is much more important.  I know who I am in Christ.  I have a beautiful son whom I am blessed to be able to spend each day at home with.  I have an incredibly loving husband who shares my faith.  I am happy.  I am healthier than I have ever been.  And if my belly has to be a little jiggly in the meantime.  So be it.
My past has given me a testimony.  My past has made me who I am today.  And I'm thankful for the lessons I have learned, as tough and scary as they may have been in the meantime.  And, although it has warranted hundreds of apologies to my parents and sister, I'm glad for my trials and tribulations.  My struggles have given me the freedom to accept who I am, with vigor, today.

Be healthy.  Love yourself for who you are.  And remember... you're In Good Company.

2 comments:

  1. Just what I needed to "hear" today! I have had major issues with my weight and always thought I was fat. Looking back at high school pictures, I want to go and punch everyone that said I was ugly or fat. They were wrong! Because of my self esteem, I ate and ate, that was how I handled everything and still do. I'm getting to where I dont care what people say but I know they are still looking. I really don't want to go to my 10 yr reunion next year because I know a lot of them are still so judgemental, one issue with McPherson I think!

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  2. I think it's an issue in any town, in any place. People are judgemental by nature. We just have to learn to not let their opinions matter. It's not fair when people hurt others in any way. I'm sorry for what you had to go through in high school. Have you considered speaking about your experiences in order to help others who are going through the same thing?

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