#the(not-so)silentstory, Part 1
Some of you may recall that on January 1 of this year, I posted a promise of an updated website and a not-so-silent explanation of #thesilentstory within the year. (If you're new around here, hi! Click that little hyperlink to learn more about #thesilentstory before you keep reading. It might help.) In case you don’t recall this promise, here’s the proof:
Well...that's all folks! THANK YOU for listening to #thesilentstory for the past 365 days. I hope you enjoyed following along and conjuring up your own creative versions of each of the stories as I silently shared my own. 2015 was an incredible, difficult, and wonderful year, filled with all of the emotional ups and downs that a generally confused, engaged (!), attempting-to-graduate-and-be-a-real-person, 20-something feels. All struggle, victory, and glory to God. But...2016 is looking pretty good too! Stay tuned for a brand new #megthephotographer website, complete with my own RECAP on #thesilentstory! (Also, 2016 means wedding year...is this real life?). I can't promise all of the stories and answers you are looking for, but I can promise a few little peeks! Also, some fun trivia questions. Because who doesn't love trivia. For now, HAPPY NEW YEAR! May your year be filled with unspoken, ordinary treasures and may you find the little beauty in each and every one of them. | PC: Matt
So, here I am, with 18 days left of 2016, fulfilling my promise to you, my friends. Luckily, I made that promise using the incredibly vague phrase “this year,” and it’s still 2016—so I’m right on time. The party can start now.
Before I tell you more about #thesilentstory—and I promise, we WILL get there--there is something else I have to tell you first. I need to fulfill a promise that I made to me.
Since August 2014, I have had an eating disorder, and its name is orthorexia. (Psst...that hyperlink will tell you more!)
Read it again. Yes, you read that correctly.
Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? Except it actually was. Which is why I am fulfilling these promises to you and to me with 18 days left until my self-imposed deadline. (At this point, if you aren’t going to keep reading, please do us both the courtesy of gracefully exiting now--there is no sense in knowing only a fraction of my story. That’s right—I’m here to start telling you my story.)
Orthorexia is "new"--so new, in fact, that most people, including many healthcare professionals, have not heard of it. I certainly hadn't until a counselor asked if it sounded familiar, and I responded with something along the lines of, "Yes, that is me." Note: I did not say "that describes me”—I said “that is me.”
I have felt burdened for over two years by the chaos that is and was orthorexia. But it has only been since recently that I have felt burdened by the story that is and was my orthorexia.
Not for attention, not for pity—but simply because I know that my story echoes the stories of so many others, and I know that when you are standing alone on what feels like a deserted island, sometimes all you need is to hear another voice echo back in the distance, “me too.”
Today, this is why I have decided to tell the world:
1. I am about to run out of memory on my iPhone.
Throughout my Christian hike (sometimes I feel like hike is more accurate than "Christian walk" or “Christian journey,” you know?), God has always made it very clear to me what I am supposed to say when. Hear me out: when I begin writing, or when I feel like I have something to say, the feeling doesn't go away until I write every last word the Lord places on my mind and heart. I get this overwhelming sense that nothing I’ve written is actually anything that I would have come up with on my own—I am merely a vessel.
Sometimes (most times) this kind of thing happens at incredibly inopportune times. As I wrote this portion of this post a couple of weeks ago, I was actually sitting in church. I am sure that I looked way super rude sitting there typing furiously on my phone for the majority of worship and the sermon, but I knew that if I didn't take note then, my mind would just continue to buzz with words, analogies, and phrases that didn't feel like my own, but rather, some sort of strange gift from God that I wasn't sure I wanted.
Then, as soon as I let a few words in, the floodgates opened. On the treadmill, on my way to work, AT work, in my dreams. My Notes app is literally overflowing, and so is my mind. I know that I am meant to share my stories--this one, and many others. So, here we are.
2. I couldn't read or listen to anything anymore.
I started reading two books. Key word: started. I didn't finish. The first was titled "You're Loved No Matter What," and I bought it for $5.95 at my local Christian bookstore (which I now see is a huge steal based on the current Amazon price of $13.06!) because maybe it would fix me. (Books don't fix people, idiot.)
The second one was titled "Looking for Lovely," and I bought it because a dear writer friend who blogs cool things said I would like it. But then I read the introduction and couldn't bring myself to begin the first chapter because I realized that I couldn't truly "look for lovely" without being honest about the lovely I was looking for or the ugly that I was running from. (Note: Since writing this part of the post I have actually finished this book. I’ll take that as my personal reward for writing this.)
Then, one day on the way to work, Matt played a song in the car, because he said I would “really like it.” It is probably one of the creepier things you will ever listen to, but it’s worth the whole listen. For those of you that won’t actually listen (you know who you are), here’s a snippet of the lyrics:
This is favor that we don't deserve,
Saving grace that you cannot put into words.
So it's time to open my closet doors
And let the light shine through.
Cuz I want you to know you aren't alone in your struggle too.
You see a secret is only a secret as long as you're willing to keep it
And freedom will only come when you release it.
I need you to believe it.
Yeah, MAJOR chills. I had a hard time listening to most music for a few weeks because I felt like everything I listened to was kind of haunting me in a “this song really relates to your life right now at this very exact moment, doesn’t it?” sense.
3. There are no good stories in which there is only ONE character and they save themselves from the villain…who also happens to be themselves.
Friends, let's not hike alone. I've been fortunate enough to have a small and close collection of people who love me and know me well who have hiked with me, but who have also hiked FOR me when I was too weak or too stubborn or too tired.
For months, I have had this feeling of being inside an Escape Room game alone, with only one puzzle left. So close, I can taste it. I've decoded the puzzle and I know that the only way out is to solve it. (Read: I know that the only way out is to rely on others and on God more than anything else.) But, I am specifically and stubbornly choosing on my own to not place the final puzzle piece, and am therefore still locked in the room. Friends, today the game is over. The thing about those Escape Room games is that nobody is really a winner…just free. The reward is freedom.
As you might (or might not) be able to imagine, I feel incredibly anxious and unsure about broadcasting all of this to the world—that’s why I finished this post a few days ago, and have it scheduled to publish while I am at work—because I am a smart scaredy-cat. But, this is a part of my story, and I'm not going to hide that anymore. To continue hiding this part of my testimony is to hide the full extent of the Gospel and what Jesus' death on the cross means for ordinary humans like me. No matter how many times I am lost, I am always found.
With that said, to my family and friends who were unaware: please do not say “I'm sorry,” please do not be upset with me that I did not tell you, and please do not say, "I should have known.” It is too late for these things now, and we can only move forward from here. Please do ask about my story, my experiences, and about eating disorder awareness.
To any men and women who struggle with eating disorders: I am sorry that the world is a scary place to tell. I am sorry that it feels so much easier to pretend to be perfect than it does to be honest and real. I am sorry that I waited so long to speak up.
Now, for anyone who is alone on that deserted island: your eating disorder is NOT a sin issue. It is an identity issue. Let me explain.
My parents are NOT to blame for my relationship with food. I was never told I was too large (because I wasn't), I was never taught that skinny is prettier or better, and in our home, health, food, or body image was rarely ever even mentioned, let alone mentioned in a negative light.
I did NOT commit some ungodly, unknown sin that suddenly bestowed upon me the curse of healthy habits gone wild. I won't ever say that God bestows issues with food upon His children. My mission is not (I repeat, NOT) to undo this curse. The truth is that somewhere along the line, the Truth was no longer a priority. I responded to the counselor that day with "Yes, that is me." The word “is” in that sentence is the surrendering of my own identity for one that is filled with ugly lies. Listen to me. YOU are not your eating disorder, or your depression, or your grades, or your anxiety, or the amount of sugar you eat, or your winning streak, or your spotless home.
Finally, I need you to know that I am doing well. I am doing really well. This isn't a cry for help, and this isn't a plea for answers. During the deepest, darkest valleys, when I was not doing so well, I saw a counselor, and I had people around me who knew the darkest of the dark and chose to sit there with me, being the light.
I still struggle more often than I would like to, and while I fully believe that complete healing is possible, I no longer ask God to take the "food thoughts" away--instead, I use them as opportunities to focus on the identity and purpose that I am and that I have in Him. I am here to tell you that my little, un-cool, death-filled story is magnificent and filled with life--and yours is too. God has promised me big things in this life and I'm ready to fight for them.
Yesterday, I hid in the shadows of my secrets.
Today, I dance in the freedom of my stories.
Tomorrow, let's go on a hike together (in what will likely be the most figurative sense—ya girl’s still gotta go to work).
(And UP NEXT: Actually find out what #thesilentstory has to do with all of this! Is that a good cliffhanger or what?)