Her Story #9

                Isn’t it funny how life doesn’t turn out how we expect it to, or look like anything we envisioned. If you told me that this is how my life would look, I never would have believed you, because of course I try to do everything perfect and the way it’s supposed to be done. My life looks very different than I ever expected.

                I grew up well loved by my family, did well in school, not a super social butterfly, reasonably secure in who I was. I have always been incredibly independent, competitive, a force to be reckoned with, outspoken and can and will get it done; “I’ll show you, “try me”.

                I moved into college and out on my own at 17 after my parents divorced, put myself through college. My relationship with both parents was strained. I found myself making my way through life and college, struggling with depression and what I didn’t know for another 13 years, high level functioning anxiety.

                I married the first guy I had a “serious” relationship with because honestly I thought, it’s this or I will be alone forever.  We had two beautiful kids together, but in this he showed his lack of maturity and an inability to keep a job.  The responsibilities fell solely on me.  Looking in hind site, I suffered with postpartum depression after my second child, but was completely clueless, I just could not figure out why it was so hard having 2 kids.  My relationship with my now ex-husband continued to disintegrate, he lost job after job and I found myself struggling to support our family and try to be a mom and keep our home afloat. After a couple of years of this constant fight and struggle, losing myself in the midst of it, miserable and exhausted, falling down this pit of despair. I hated the person I had become, the mom that I was, and there was no relationship, my marriage had turned into two people living in the same home and all I could think was I am teaching my children how to have a very dysfunctional relationship. My ex lost yet another job, all jobs in that area had been exhausted and I decided enough was enough. I told him I was done.

                I hated how I looked, felt, and the person I had become. I had become a tired and exhausted monster.  I decided I was going to try to start running. At first I couldn’t run at all, slowly I started to get better. I decided I was going to eat better, started losing weight, the running made me feel powerful, gave me an adrenaline high. The divorce finalized, I was free of that weight and in the midst was losing weight and had become a runner. It became a game. I had a goal weight set in mind, that if I ever could achieve that, it would be amazing. I got more into exercise and fitness, I was a running beast, all the while eating less and exercising more. The weight kept falling off. I got down to that weight I had in mind, looked in the mirror and said there is more to lose and this is easy, I bet I can lose five more, lost that 5 and decided I could lose 5 more. All the while I was on the scale multiple times a day, and if the scale was up, I didn’t eat, if it was down, I ate, I became more and more paranoid of food.

                I was sitting on the couch one night in bible study with a dear friend who had brought me back to church, I don’t remember how the conversation even started, but it came to light that it in fact was not normal behavior to weigh yourself 10-12x per day. We discussed my eating habits, how I ate based on the scale and that I must always expend more energy and calories than I took in. That night we both sat there and just cried and decided to remove the scale from my house and she took it home with her. Over the next couple months things only got worse. It was the 2nd week of December, I grew more paranoid by the day of food and exercised more and more, I hadn’t eaten in 5 days, I was too afraid to eat, I couldn’t. I showed up at said friends place of employment in tears and told her I was scared. I hadn’t eaten in 5 days and was too paranoid to eat. My friend said enough is enough and said she would get coverage for her work and take me to get help.  She begged me to eat, I went home that day and ate 2 eggs. I called and scheduled to get into a therapist and that began months of driving to see a therapist. All the while, my paranoia got worse, I continued to lose more weight. I told my friend how disgusting and fat I was, and she said there is nothing left to you, you are skin and bones. She and her husband discussed taking my kids and getting me into inpatient for eating disorder. I would go to the grocery store and have a complete melt down and leave with nothing because it was too overwhelming and scary.

                It took so much time, but the eating, the exercise amount and life slowly improved. I had to deal with and fight with my perfectionism that had been engrained into me. I had to dig into my bible deep and rely on friends, I had to learn to turn down and try to mute the voices that constantly reminded me how worthless, fat and disgusting I was, how I was an utter failure as a mother, daughter, friend… The weight on the scale, the way I looked determined the person that I was. It didn’t matter what else I was good at the voices screamed. I was paranoid of food. How ridiculous is it to tell people you are scared of food.

                I don’t know at what point that my desire to get healthy became sick and twisted, but it had been an all consuming battle for my life. To this day although I have gained significant ground in this battle, I know this is a fight I will always have. I look in this mirror and I am disgusted by my appearance most days. People tell me I have to learn to love myself. I am just happy the days that I can accept myself and not be disgusted, those days are huge wins. I have to dig into scripture and remind myself of who I am. I have friends who I can call and tell them the struggle and that I am failing and we bring me back to grips, but ultimately I have two beautiful kids I never want to fight this struggle and I don’t want to ever fight this disease. I will always fight and struggle with orthorexia and anorexic tendencies.

                A few years ago, I had some weird symptoms show up, seemingly overnight, I had to promise my friend that I was in fact eating, then seemingly as overnight as the symptoms showed up, they disappeared. A couple years ago some other weird symptoms showed up and just as mysteriously disappeared. This winter/spring, a horrible 12 weeks of weird and progressively worsening symptoms and the longest 8 week wait to find out what I already knew was wrong. It was MS (multiple sclerosis). I have the best kind you can get. Relapsing/Remitting MS, or as I like to call it, the trial version. When I decide I don’t like it, I will end up with the full secondary MS. 85% of RRMS turn into secondary progressive in 10-20 years. I am on meds and in the middle of another flare up now. 

You see, I have tried to do everything “right” in my life and if you told me this is what my life would look like, I would have laughed in your face. I am in my late 30’s divorced, single mom, with depression and anxiety, an eating disorder and MS. I can only say I get up every day because by the grace of God he grants me each new day. I can see all the ways he is constantly working in my life and preparing me for the next step/trial. He always gives me what I need, even if I can’t see it. He gives me the resources, the strength, but most importantly, he gives me the people who he uses to guide and strengthen me. I used to be so secretive about all my issues, afraid of what others may think, but I have learned the more I share, I take away some of the power that issue has hold over me. This has become so freeing, and I am thankful for those who have given and continue to give me the strength and support to press on; for being Jesus with skin which sometimes we just need. God is not done with me yet. I have two girls to continue to love and raise, Lord willing I will be here to complete it. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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