Admitting it is The First Step

This is the second in a series of posts on dealing with an eating disorder. Read the first one here.

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I went into the therapists office for my first meeting in full denial. I didn’t have mental problems, I had heart disease. But I was so scared about what was going on with my body I was willing to get someone to say I was fine in the head so I could go back to my doctor and tell her to check again.

After a few sessions, I was given a diagnosis. My therapist, Marcia, who had been solely working with eating disorder patients for 15 years informed me I had one of the worst cases of anorexia she had ever seen.

Well then. I still thought she was wrong, but I was scared, really scared. I could feel my body dying and many nights I would wake up with serious stomach pain from starvation and such weakness that I couldn’t stand up. I slept with grapes by my bed to stave off the hunger pains. A few grapes would often get me back to sleep. But I knew deep down my body was failing and I feared I would not wake up one day. So my fear kept me coming back and listening to her words and attempting to answer her questions.

Immediately after her diagnosis a whirl wind of things happened. They happened so fast I didn’t have time to run screaming from the office. Before I could spell anorexia I was connected with an amazing team of professionals who worked with me on many levels in different capacities. I was given names and addresses of where and when to show up. That was pretty much it.

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I met with Marcia 3 times a week to begin with. Most of the hard work happened here. Gut wrenching, soul searching, truth telling stuff.

My psychiatrist, Michael, was very nice, and patient. We met monthly and he mainly helped me cope with what I was dealing with in therapy through medication which I did not want to take, and often didn’t, much to his dismay. But in the end he was a key piece of my recovery whether I liked it or not.

Pam, my diatician, met with me twice a week for a weigh in and education on good nutrition. She was unbelievably patient and kind to me as I very slowly began to re-eat. I had to put on a paper gown and step on a scale twice a week in front of Pam and provide documentation of my food intake to her. She put it all in a computer so we could see what I was really doing and how my body was responding. She was a great friend and I loved meeting with her. She taught me so much and seemed to truly love me through a very difficult recovery and learning process.

Finally, there was Dr. Kimberly, the one who diagnosed me to begin with. She monitored me as needed to make sure my body was healing and rebuilding the way we hoped it would. She delivered the good news, bad news and the unknown to me with understanding and kindness in her voice.

That was it, my full, amazing, talented, gifted and patient recovery team. I will forever love and cheris them in my heart.

They saved my life.

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About 6 months into therapy I finally agreed “I may have an issue”. Just a small one though. I wondered how long this was going to take to get over, but all my therapist would tell me was she was going to be with me for a long time.

After a year I realized I was dealing with a giant and I was fully onboard – willing to defeat it, but incapable of doing it quickly. It was going to be a long road and Marcia assured me she wasn’t going anywhere. Those were comforting words to me.

And we were just beginning.

 

 

 

Hello Again…

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I’ve been absent for a while. Since last fall it’s been mostly quite around here. I’ve missed it, writing, that is.

I was quiet because I couldn’t talk about the mundane blah, blah, blah stuff when I had so much going on in my head that was real and meaningful. But I didn’t know how to talk about that stuff, or I wasn’t ready to, so I didn’t talk about anything. It was too personal and raw. But I knew I would write about it one day. One day I would be ready.

So here we are again, 9 months later and I think I’m ready now.

So much exciting stuff has happened this (school) year. And I really want to get it down, and out of my head. It’s hard, though. So I’m going to take it a little at a time and see if I can make it make sense of it. Come with me if you wish, or don’t, it’s ok.

The Lord took me on a journey this year like none other. It was exciting, amazing, humbling, and REAL.

I have a story to tell. A story of how God redeemed my life, gave me hope and a purpose. A story of his faithfulness, mercy, and unrelenting love for me. How he gave me peace and joy and answers to hard questions in my life.

I have a story to tell, and I’m ready to tell it. A little at a time.

My Personal Monologue

About a week ago I wrote a post about “Who God Says I Am“. And in that post I said I had a fun exercise to do with that info. Well, here it is.

Some, no, many days I need a good dose of who God says I am to combat what the world says I am, or I say I am, or what I think others think I am. Right? Do you ever do that too? Well, I have a terrible habit of letting those negative messages sink in  and run my life instead of letting God’s message dictate my attitude and mindset. After looking up what the Bible said about me I came up with a personal monologue that I wrote down and keep somewhere that I can easily access it when I am needing a little dose of God thinking.

I took several of these things I found that really resonate with me (and combat some of my typical negative recordings) and put them together in a short paragraph. Really simple. But so impactful. Throw one of these together for yourself and see what difference it makes for you.

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So the next time I start getting down on myself with the lies that fill my head I will say:

“I am God’s child and I belong to Him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not condemned for the wrong I do because I am saved by grace. I am never alone. I am a co-heir with Christ. I have a  heavenly calling. I am a temple of God and His Spirit dwells in me. I am God’s workmanship created in Christ to do His work that He planned for me. I am chosen and called by God. I have wisdom from God. I am the light of the world. I am a victor. My labor is not in vain. I can never be separated from God’s love. I am strong. I am forgiven. I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved.”

Yeah, take that!

I may even play the “Rocky” theme song as I read it.

Now you write yours…and please share it, I would love to see what you cone up with.

 

Who God Says I Am

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Being vulnerable may have it’s benefits (see this previous post), but it’s sure scary. Because what if I get hurt? What if someone uses my vulnerability against me? What if someone doesn’t respond well to my “stuff”. What if they don’t say anything at all?

Crush me.

The other day I led a little girls Bible study and did a horrible job. Not really horrible, but it wasn’t good either. The kids were squirrelly and I wasn’t making it very fun. I was tired and distracted and was seriously lacking in confidence. I came home and considered two options: 1. sitting here all night beating myself up for not being awesome OR 2. reflecting on what God thinks about me. I decided on the later as Matthew 25:40 came to mind, “The King will say to them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!'”

I may have been hum-ho that night but I was serving Christ. And I know that because I have the Holy Spirit living in me God can still move in great ways despite my weaknesses and inabilities. What an amazing truth. So I thanked God for my failures that night comforted that in my inadequacies He is glorified.

This senario is one I have with myself All. The. Time. So much so that I realized a long time ago I needed truths to combat the voices in my head that beat defeating messages over and over again. So I looked up every verse I could find on what God says about me and who He says I am. These verses below are what I use to fend off the negativity about myself in my brain.

Honestly, there are are so many identity truths in the Bible. He has a lot to say about us! Here are some (many) that I have handy for just that special occasion when someone turns me upside down and the deflating chants begin. Take these and chew on them for a day or so. Then I have a very cool exercise for us to do with them!

I am a new creation in Him!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

I am reconciled in Christ.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:18-19

I am righteous and holy.
“And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24

I am saved by grace as a gift, not because of my performance. 
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8

I am a co-heir with Christ.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share with His glory.” Romans 8:17

I am chosen and called by God to produce fruit.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

I am not condemned for the wrong I do
There is no condemnation for us (Romans 8:1)

I can never be separated from God’s love 
Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.(Romans 8:39)

I have wisdom from God 
Because of what God has done, you belong to Christ Jesus. He has become God’s wisdom for us. He makes us right with God. He makes us holy and sets us free. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

My labor is not in vain
Because you belong to the Lord, you know that your work is not worthless. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

I am God’s child and I belong to Him
You are all children of God by believing in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

So he decided long ago to adopt us as his children. He did it because of what Jesus Christ has done. It pleased God to do it. (Ephesians 1:5)

I have every spiritual blessing
Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Those blessings come from the heavenly world. They belong to us because we belong to Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

I am forgiven
We have been set free because of what Christ has done. Through his blood our sins have been forgiven. We have been set free because God’s grace is so rich. (Ephesians 1:7)

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

I am chosen
We were also chosen to belong to him. God decided to choose us long ago in keeping with his plan. He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. (Ephesians 1:11)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)

I am for the praise of his glory
in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:12)

I have been seated in the heavenly realms
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

I’ve been given the incomparable riches of God’s grace
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

I who was once far away have been brought near
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

I am built together as a holy building
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22)

I may approach God with freedom and confidence
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)

I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

I am strong
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I am never alone — God will not leave me
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I am a citizen of Heaven
But we are citizens of heaven. And we can hardly wait for a Savior from there. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

I radiate light wherever I go.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

I shine like a firework in the night.
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philipphians 2:15

I am a daughter of Light. 
“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”1 Thessalonians 5:5

I am the salt of the earth.
“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13

I am a vessel of Divine Light.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Beams and light and joy exude from within me. 
“Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.” Psalm 97:11

I am a victor.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

I have a heavenly calling.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” Hebrews 3:1

I have royalty in my veins and lead with integrity.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

I am designed for good works.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

 

September Slam

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September hit me like a ton of bricks. During the summer when we were vacationing and taking it slow and easy I signed us up for all sorts of fun stuff come fall. And now we are in it and I’m wondering what was wrong with me. It all sounded so fun back then.

Now every evening is packed with kid activities and trying to fit in Bible study and homework is not easy.

Lesson learned. Next time take on less than you think you can handle.

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I may be crazed and confused, but I have not finished my quest for wholehearted living and true vulnerability. I have much more to say on it, so stick with me!

I have some fun things to share with you soon! I can’t wait.

Until then…

At the Core of Vulnerability is Shame

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I carry more than a fair share of baggage with me in life and although I have done lots of work to unload it and deal with is in appropriate ways it still creeps up once in a while. We moved a few years ago to a new state and when we did I lost the support system I had spent seven years building at our old home. Although I knew it was very important that I had one I didn’t bother to build a new one until I crashed and burned. Oops, lesson learned again.

I found myself at a very low weight that I hadn’t seen in many years with anxiety through the roof. My heart was beating erratically, I had pain with no explanation, emotional craziness and I wasn’t functioning as the mom I want to be. I was checking out way too often.

I went to the doctor for some help. And I entered therapy again.

Things in my life that were completely out of my control were giving me great anxiety and I had no way to safely deal with them so I spiraled down very quickly. A little help from the doctor and a booster shot from the therapist gave me what I needed to get back on track.

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I’ve had setbacks before, but this was a bad one. And I had a lot of work to do to keep it from happening again.

One of the things that was significant in my search for answers were these TED talk by Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability. I posted about the vulnerability one yesterday. And I said then, I dare to be vulnerable IF it helps me live life wholeheartedly. Because that life sounds so very good.

Well, Brene goes on to explain where true vulnerability starts (you can listen to that TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame). And it isn’t pretty. It starts with your shame.

After listening to this I thought, “Oh, I can be vulnerable, but maybe not with my shame. I take it all back, I would rather live in a cave. Forget the wholehearted living thing.”

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But truthfully, I do dare to live courageously and deal with my stuff so that I can live wholeheartedly. For me, for my husband, for my children, I dare. So I set out to rebuild my personal board of directors.

I searched my current contacts for people I might feel comfortable being vulnerable with. I reached out to them and started the process of building the friendship deeper. Some were a bust – that’s ok. Others were a gold mine. And I love them for it!

Brene Brown uses different friends for different situations. When a kid or mommy situation arrises she calls those friends. When a work situation arrises she calls on those friends.

I’m a girl with only a few friends at this level. I need about 2 or 3 so they need to cover just about all areas. I have to keep it close you know.

I built a new support system in about a year’s time and today it is working well. I have 2 (maybe 3) people who know my “stuff” and I can call anytime for help. A pre-requisite of mine was that they had to be vulnerable with me too. I don’t need a listening ear, I need people in this fight with me living vulnerably and open with their shame as well. Having a bunch of friends listening to your stuff who appear to have no stuff is not encouraging at all.

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In Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” she talks about using her friends to bounce things off of immediately after she feels the shame. She urges you to never let shame sit there festering inside you, tearing you down. The longer that goes on the worse the ramifications are.

Shame grows in darkness.

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For me, shame feels like rocks in the bottom of my tummy. When it first comes on it feels heavy and sick. And if I don’t expose it to the light, talk to someone about it, it will grow and destroy – quickly. This is when I call on my girls. The faster the better.

Let’s say I am visiting a friend and they say something that really cuts deep. And it stirs up all my old pain. They may, or may not, have meant to hurt me, but they did nun-the-less. And it reminds me of my feelings of unworthiness, being unlovable and scared. I hear things like, “your not good enough, you need to be better, do more.” So when I get in the car, I send a quick text or make a phone call to ask for prayer and a little time to talk. Then I pray and ask God to remind me of how He thinks about me.

As soon as light is shed on your shame it knocks the legs right out from under it. Your friends can shed truth on it, God will blow it up with His truth every time, and all of a sudden it isn’t growing anymore, it’s dying.

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I wish I did this well every time. But, no chance. It takes work and courage and vulnerability. Some days I possess more of these qualities than others.

But I can say undeniably that when I deal with my shame well it is life-giving. The benefits are immediate.

I am enough. I am strong. I am courageous. I am loved.

Dare greatly with me to live vulnerably in your shame so that you may live wholeheartedly.