Those are the words on the t-shirt that I chose to put on after church today. It seemed incredibly appropriate as today is one year since I made the first step in my recovery journey. One year ago I was holed up in a hotel room in Birmingham calling every eating disorder treatment center that I could find a phone number for, desperate for someone to take me quickly before I changed my mind.
This week as the one year anniversary approached, I have shared several happy pictures and posts because this is a monumental time for me as I look at back at everything God has done in my life over the last year.
But the words on this shirt..."Fight for it." are so, so accurate. While this last year, and especially the 6 months of full time treatment, saw dramatic changes in my life, they didn't come easy.
I had so many days that I wanted to quit. I had days that I thought it would be easier to continue the poor coping skills I had utilized for so long than to continue working for recovery. The first few months especially, I constantly fought urges to just pack my bags and walk out of treatment.
But at the end of the day, the fact that it was SO hard, was how I knew that something was finally working. It wasn't supposed to be easy.
Eating disorders are not glamorous or humorous. They kill more people than any other mental illness. They are ugly. They are deadly.
I battled anorexia for years and years. Bulimia entered a few of my teenage years. I had moments where physically I was healthier than others, but it was always there.
But lest you think that anorexia is or eating disorders in general is skipping a meal or counting calories or just over exercising, I'm going to be transparent. While those are or can be part of it, it's more than that.
Anorexia was how I coped with trauma. It was the only way that I felt like I had control over my body again.
Anorexia was constantly lying to friends and family about what I ate or how much I ate or when I ate. Anorexia was making up lies and putting on a show on a daily basis about how much I had eaten before I came. It was exercising obsessively until I reached outrageous goals every day. It was walking in place or running around my yard at odd hours to make sure I hit an outrageous number of steps on my FitBit every day. It was weighing myself more than ten times a day and crying if the number went up at all. It was having two scales in my bathroom that I could compare for accuracy.
Anorexia was the moment I realized that I had to buy pants from the children's department where my then 6 year old daughter shopped. It was counting out the amount of Cheerios that I ate because just one too many would mean I had lost control again. It was passing up dinner dates with friends because I didn't want to have to lie about why it wasn't eating. It was never sitting down to eat with my family.
Those years of bulimia were the desperation I reached when I felt like my eating disorder was going to be taken away from me if people didn't start seeing me eat. It was crying in the bathroom stall at school after throwing up my food because I was so ashamed but at the same time I couldn't stop. Bulimia was the moment when my mother caught me throwing up my food in our home and the only thing that crossed my mind was pure terror that my control was going to be taken away from me.
Eating Disorders were the moments I felt like I couldn't deal with it anymore.
Eating Disorders were the lies that told me the only way to be safe after I was raped was to hold on to them and to keep secrets.
But an eating disorder lies. It isolates. It kills you slowly in every way possible; physically, mentally, emotionally.
But then redemption happened.
One year ago today, as my world came crashing down and all the lies that my eating disorder had sent me into were exposed, and almost everything in me wanted to give up, Jesus whispered, "Fight for it.".
Those beautiful daughters you have. Your son whose memory you've worked so hard to keep alive. Your husband who has loved you unconditionally and doesn't know how to help you anymore. Your life. Your life, though you can't see it in this moment, is precious. Fight for it.
Jesus spoke courage into my soul as I packed a suitcase and drove to a city that I had previously only ventured to for shopping or a concert. Jesus spoke courage into my soul as I drove and then checked into a hotel room, not knowing what the next day would hold, much less my future.
And over the next few months, He spoke into my life over and over again, day by day, moment by moment. Strength, courage, peace. He spoke it over and over again.
He spoke it through the calm I felt after I felt sure a meltdown was coming but then it miraculously didn't. He spoke courage into my heart through friends when I called crying because I ate a hamburger and I didn't think I could deal with it. He spoke strength into my being as I lay in my bathroom floor crying and wondering how I ended up where I was.
And moment by moment, day by day, month by month, He spoke healing into every aspect of my life. But it was a fight.
It was hard and some days, it was ugly. But here's the constant, beautiful thing: I never fought alone.
He was always with me. He stood by me in the fire and fought with me through every step of the climb. He has been with me as I am still learning to live in recovery.
Through all of this, He has instilled passion and purpose within my life. I advocate for sexual assault survivors and fight against victim blaming because I NEVER want anyone to feel like they have to keep it a secret like I did out of fear that people would blame them. That's why I suffered in silence and ultimately why I resorted to the eating disorder to cope.
He has been working behind the scenes in ways that blow my mind and working things together that I never could have dreamed.
Recovery isn't always sunshine and roses. There are plenty of hard days and moments because life isn't easy.
But there is always joy. Because Jesus is the foundation of my recovery, the pillar of my recovery, there is always joy.