Don’t Give Up in the Middle

“Life can’t be about being good enough, but instead believing there is God enough – God enough for whatever our own humanity needs grace for… The questions is can I believe that when the suffering and the grief comes? And if I can – will it make me feel any less alone? – Ann Voskamp, this book (which is the only book I’ve ever wanted to read slowly because I don’t want it to end.)

Isn’t that the question though… I’m fine now. But would I ever be strong enough if  I faced the pain of the past again? Great that I’m fine now, I found myself telling one of my uncles one day, but I could have died. Don’t you get that? I don’t mind that now I’m through it, but do you realize how bad it was? Nothing was stopping me. And you can tell me I’m different all day long, but would I be strong enough if I felt that hurt again? Because this life offers no guarantees, and if I risk loving again – there is the risk that I could be broken again.

“Relationships are the realest reality – and the realest risk… and the worthiest risk. Because in sacrificing ourselves, we are guaranteed to discover the depths of our best and realest selves.” – Ann Voskamp (can you tell I’m obsessed?)

And the truth is that the risk I’ve lived has helped me find the reality of my humanity. I’m more alive than I was pre-anorexia. (Is there really a pre-anorexia? – The pain was there… I just carried it in other ways.) I see the goodness that God has brought in my life and the lives of others through something SO PAINFUL and SO DIFFICULT.

“Love means holding your tongue when your heart is hard… Or when it is breaking.” – Ann Voskamp

I was too afraid… didn’t know how… to let my heart break as a child. No one showed me that the heart breaking can be one of the most healing things ever. But I was too stubborn, too afraid… No one was there to let me know the end of the story if I let my heart break. So instead I broke elsewhere. I broke my body. I broke my spirit. I was terrified to feel the pain of my heart breaking.

“Anorexic children display more mature defenses, contrary to all expectations but in accordance with the already well-known conscientiousness, high achievement, high conformity and overt compliance with demands of others… This kind of functioning is a unique adaptation to maternal disengagement when the child prematurely takes responsibility for their own self-regulation.”

Yeah, I’d say that could describe the dynamic between myself and the unstable home environment.

But here’s the thing, my panic about if it could happen again or that I could have died fails to take into account two things:

1.) It didn’t! I know not everyone gets that outcome. But all my desires to love, to give, to trust in God that were there since I was little – those did not let me down. God did get me through. To stay stuck in the middle and the horrible period that I lived is to close the book without getting to the ending. It is prematurely giving up on that faith, hope, and trust that I did have… that was real… and that got me through.

2.) And here’s the second thing – I’ve learned my heart breaking will only bring good things. I’ve learned that as long as I can be brave enough to let my heart do the breaking… the heart is capable of breaking and bearing that pain. The heart can transform through pain.

The story wasn’t over. Stick with it. You, who are in the middle of the darkest night, your story is not over yet.

 

 

 

 

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Tears

I drove home from the city today with a baby screaming… not crying, screaming… for the whole way.

I so rarely cry anymore. How many days and nights I cried… and before that how many days and nights I held back or refused to cry…

The other day I was watching Cheaper By The Dozen 2… Steve Martin… and the tears spilled over. It was the dumbest scene ever. Steve Martin’s movies are hardly known for their emotional depth… but there I was.

I no longer fear tears.

There will surely be a day in the future when I cry more. 

But I never imagined I would make it to this place where I am no longer holding back and no longer crying daily…

Tears have helped me heal. They’ve helped me feel and express what I couldn’t express with words. They’ve washed away the barriers revealing the heart below.

Picking…

My New Year’s resolution is to stop picking at my face. It is a bad habit and an unhealthy coping mechanism… a way to hurt and to be angry at myself all in one… Sound familiar anyone?

But here’s the thing, once you pick at a pimple if you don’t get it all out, it gets worse before it gets better. It gets red, painful, and scaps… and you have to get the root out.

That has been healing… digging and digging… often hurting myself worse… but knowing it has to come out in order to heal.

And when you find that root, it can start to heal… slowly and surely and with scars… it heals.

Today as I prayed I realized that all that is surrounding, all I built on top of that root is real… it has to heal and reform… but my skin above that pesky root was fine… my dreams, goals, and desires were not marred but the underlying lie that I am not loveable… but they were influenced. And now they are healing.

Recovery

I haven’t written much… partly because I don’t have time… Partly because this process has many stages and some of them are to be lived and not written about.

But I look back and  I can’t believe how far I have come.

And this post is for all of those (who may not find this or read this) who are googling “eating disorder recovery.” That was me one day. I wanted to know if this was possible. I wanted to read a story of someone who had made it through. Because I wanted a story of someone who understood the battle and made it through. So many stories of “you will live with this forever”.. and I always preferred to believe in this impossible.

And I’m living the impossible. And I believe in something even better than what I’m living today. It hasn’t been perfect. There are still triggers. But I am living something that I never thought was possible.

It does get better. It is worth digging to find the root. Because finding the root – the hole you are trying to fill… It is painful… But when you find it, it does get better. It is scary as s***… It feels like it may break you. But it won’t. You are strong enough.

I found the root. It hurts. It still does. But it is healing.

And finding the root has changed the path of recovery. It took a lot of time. I had to dig through a lot of layers. I reached a point at which I thought I would never reach the bottom layer. I was tired. I am tired. But I have reached the bottom layer and it is healing…

And the recovery is happening… it takes time. But when you face the hole – you no longer have to try to fill it with food or the pain of hunger.

It does get better. And the journey changes you.

A scraped windshield…

It is amazing how the little things can set you off…

Today a coworker scraped my windshield. The same coworker who had listened to me pour out my woes about a fight with my best friend last week.

I cried watching Gilmore Girls.

Sometimes it is the little things that mean more than anything else.

Last week my best friend turned on me. The girl who knows how much it would hurt. I was left crying at my desk, stunned. That ache is horrible.

She called me hours later and we talked, made up, even improved our friendship. But I still ached. Then in church on Sunday, as I begged God to show me what to do as I still ache, He told me to choose to love. To choose to love her because even though I hurt she deserves it.

I needed that. I needed someone who I know loves me dearly to hurt me. Why? Because it showed me what it is to choose to love. And I can apply that lesson to those who I need to love whose love in return I have not experienced.

I ached, but I’m learning to accept that ache. I’m learning to accept that life is not lived in not aching but learning to move forward through the ache…. Healing is not “not hurting” but learning to move forward despite the pain…

And I’m learning… little by little…

Crooked lines.

I’ve always been afraid of breaking. I’ve been afraid to love – not so much for fear of getting hurt – but because I was afraid that hurt would break me again… Like it did before. And I never want to go back to that broken place.

But healing doesn’t mean not hurting. Healing means that the pain will not take away my peace, that the pain will not overwhelm… that when I feel the pain breaking me, I will discover that I am held.

Presence.

That is what this Advent is all about. Presence.

And isn’t presence what I have ached for my whole life? Is it a longing to be known, loved, found, and seen. And isn’t that what the babe in the manger does?

How is it that I am discovering more and more what it means that he is coming because I am breaking?

Crooked lines.

And today, that was the counsel I received. As I knelt and poured out my soul… That because my friends turned on me and my fear was actualized, I’ve realized that I can walk through my worst fears of being unloved and rejected.

And it was that same priest who listened to my heartache today who scraped the snow off my windshield. I wouldn’t even have known it was him had I not walked out at that exact minute.

He makes the ways straight…

Hip Pain

Well, I didn’t run my marathon this year.

But I did manage to win every race I ran this season. I surprised myself. Racing does that to you.

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the voice inside you that yells, “I CAN’T.” But you don’t listen, you just push harder. And then you hear the voice whisper “I CAN” and you discover the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are.”

I learn that every race. And the funny thing is that in hindsight I can’t remember any of it… not the ache, nor the sweat, nor the moment on that half marathon when I really thought I might just prefer to crawl up that last hill in mile 12.

But there is a nagging hip pain… Not real pain, not “lay me up and I can’t work out pain”… but “stand up from my desk and slightly wince pain”…

And that little pain reminds me of everything I put into it. I came out of this running season a different person – as I do after every race. I am stronger. And yet all the effort that goes into it and the determination required and the self-knowledge attained doesn’t come at no cost… There is a nagging hip almost-pain… which reminds me that I did something I didn’t think I could, that I am a different person… And that transformation isn’t always painless.

Disclaimer: I have consulted a medical professional on the hip pain and it nothing to be concerned about.