Living In A Barbie World

I grew up with more of them than I could count. They were doctors, airline pilots, babysitters, teachers, ballerinas, scientists and more. They had beautiful dresses with matching shoes and accessories. They were my best friends and confidants. They led extraordinary lives with amazing houses and cars. Everyday was an adventure with them. They were my Barbie dolls. For the longest time I believed that if Barbie could do it I could too and since Barbies spanned many different careers and looks I thought I could too. Until one day, in my early adolescence it dawned on me. I wasn’t Barbie, I was a Teresa. For those of you who don’t know, Teresa is Barbie’s best friend. She has brown hair and green eyes and since I was a brunette not blonde and had green not blue eyes, I realized I could “never” be Barbie. I was doomed to be the less fabulous, less popular, less known, less loved Teresa.

Whether you knew who Teresa was or you never played with a Barbie in your life or you loved Barbies like I did, I think we can all relate to feeling like we don’t fit the mold. For whatever reason, Teresa was how I identified with being the sidekick and not being the popular Barbie, for not fitting the ideal which I thought I had to. When I got to early adolescence I left my Barbies and it became magazines, models, and TV stars that “told” me who I should be and whether I fit the mold. I remember many times being alone in the dressing room frustrated and near tears because I didn’t look like “all” the other girls in the latest fashions. I remember picking my prom dress not based on what I loved but on which dress made me look the thinnest. I judged whether I was accepted by which cute boy passed me a note in class or called me pretty. I judged my beauty on whether my makeup looked just right.

I would like to tell you that this was just a short phase in early girlhood and that it didn’t last long but sadly it did, for over a decade. And the saddest part is I am not alone in this story of self torture, many of you understand it all too well. Ed used my thoughts of self worth to control what I thought about beauty. He told me that as long as I didn’t look a certain manner that I would never be beautiful and I would never be loved. He told me what I could and couldn’t wear because of how horrible it made me look. He told me what others really thought of me based on how they reacted to my appearance. He told me I would never fit the mold for perfection and that I was doomed to be a “Teresa”.

I spent years in the trap of not feeling worthy and it wasn’t until I nearly hit rock bottom that I began to redefine what my worth was really in. For years, my worth was placed in how I looked. I sought more than anything to hear I was beautiful but it was never enough. No matter how many friends, boyfriends, strangers told me I was beautiful, I never believed it. I nearly killed myself looking for a perfection and beauty that was skin deep. I wanted to be that girl that everyone stopped and starred at when they walked by but no matter if it happened or not it was never enough and I was never happy.

Those last few paragraphs are torture to write because my heart breaks for that girl who once thought all those horrific things about herself. I am not that girl anymore but my heart certainly still breaks for her. Once I began recovery for Ed my thoughts slowly, slowly, began to change to an attitude of loving myself rather than hating myself. I began to believe that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. I began to believe that I was loved and given grace unconditionally. It was hard, it took work, it still does and I am not perfect at it but I am grateful for all the horrible times because it got me to this place of freedom.

I want you to know how much this freedom is a part of my everyday life. Freedom for me is about eating anything I want and that no food in my eyes is bad or good. Freedom is about wearing any clothes I want because I like them not because someone or something dictates my wardrobe. Freedom is about wearing no makeup for days. Freedom is about my hair being a mess and going out in public with it looking a mess. Freedom is about wearing sweats because I want to, not to hide my body size. Freedom is about not crying when I look in the mirror. Freedom is about playing to exercise and not torturing myself through exercise. Freedom is about seeing the beauty that radiates through me. Freedom is about knowing that beauty is NOT skin deep! Freedom is about realizing maybe I resemble Teresa more than Barbie and that is not only okay but also beautiful. Freedom even more is about not comparing myself to Barbie dolls or anyone. Freedom is about realizing that I am fearfully, wonderfully, and uniquely made. Freedom is about seeing beauty in others inside and out not because of their face or body but because of their heart. Real freedom is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

We are a culture that values the way that a person looks on the outside more than what is on the inside and it is so easy to get caught up in this idea. Whether you have struggled with an Ed or not you at some point have probably felt not worthy, not beautiful, not good enough. For me my worth was tied to the way I looked. Maybe it is for you too. Maybe it is about something else for you. I share my story here not because I have figured it all out but because I believe that in sharing our struggles we are able to help bear each others burdens and comfort each other in our trials. My story isn’t finished. I am always a work in progress as are you but I have found hope, real freedom and that is not something I want to keep to myself. I hope this week you come to realize that the beauty that you struggle with is not defined by what you do or do not see in the mirror it is defined by your heart. I hope you know how deeply you are loved and cherished for your heart. I spent over a decade figuring out this truth. I don’t want that to happen to you too. My friend may you find freedom amidst your search for beauty this week.

Much love,

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Breaking Up With Ed

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photo credit: Les Newsom

I lived with him for twelve years. He lied, cheated, nearly killed me and still I stayed. He made me lie to my friends, my family, and literally to everyone I knew. I was in elementary school when he moved in, so young, so innocent, yet so very broken. I lived by his rules and let them control my life. He was my best friend, my enemy, my dictator, all rolled into one…  To keep reading, follow along at…

https://houseofhatton.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/breaking-up-with-ed-2/
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It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay

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“I believe that God is making all things new. I believe that Christ overcame death and that pattern is apparent all through life and history: life from death, water from a stone, redemption from failure, connection from alienation. I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy.”

I sat at the table staring out the window, I didn’t want to make eye contact, because I was afraid she already knew what my answer would be. Still, I could see her looking at me through love filled eyes. “Martha, some day you are going to have to choose. You are going to have to pick your Eating Disorder or Jesus. You are going to have to jump. Are you ready?” I smiled at her, my painted on ,”you are very sweet, but you just don’t get it smile.” I looked her in the eye and with a level of defiance stated,  “Thanks but I am just not ready yet.”

A month later, I sat in the office of my beloved counselor as tears streamed down her face first and then mine. “Martha, you need serious help. You need a professional treatment team. Your Eating Disorder is serious and it is killing you.” She let the words sink in and through my tear soaked cheeks, I nodded. ” I will help you, she said, but I am scared that if we don’t start really fighting this…well I am scared of what will happen to you.” I sobbed, for the first time ever about my Eating Disorder.

I spent the next few days crying. Talking to dear friends and to my family. I spent the time thinking and praying and wondering what I would do. All along though I knew the choice I had to make. Finally, it was real and I knew what I had to do. Shakily, I picked up the phone and called my sweet friend who told me I had to choose. I called and told her I needed help. I wanted to fight. I never said the exact words, but she knew and looking back I knew too. I was ready to jump. I was choosing Jesus.

It has been three years since those conversations and since I chose Jesus and ran into the arms of grace. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about those conversations or the days leading up to my choice. I was sick. I was addicted. And I was a mess. Today only one of those is true. I am still a mess but I am no longer sick or addicted to food or the constant thoughts of food or body image. Sometimes I get scared to talk about my story of grace in it’s fullness because in all reality Jesus and Grace are trigger words. They make people take a second look at what you are writing. They make people fidget and look away. People either love you or hate you for writing about Jesus and your Faith. However, the truth is grace is scandalous and unimaginable and nothing about it is safe and comfortable. Even more so this story that I am living out is NOT about me. It is about a grace and love from a Father that I could never imagine. My story is about the gospel.

When I decided to fight and choose Jesus I had no idea the ride I was in for and am still on. It is only by the grace of His spirit that I have and had the strength to stand up to Ed and my ways of control. It was through Him and the people He placed in my life that I constantly was given the choice to embrace the beauty of grace. If it was left up to me, I couldn’t have done it and the road at times can still be rocky because I am always a work in progress, as is my story of recovery and grace.

This past fall I celebrated three years of recovery. I celebrated the decision to jump off the cliff into the arms of grace and say, “It is okay that I am not okay because Jesus is better than being better.” The most beautiful part is, embracing grace doesn’t mean that I am not still a mess. However, it envelops me in all my messiness and it allows me to be my messy broken self. Because Grace is bigger than my flaws. Grace is bigger than my mistakes. Grace is bigger than my guilt. And Grace is so much bigger than my shame. In fact, it washes it all away and says: You are loved, You are fearfully and wonderfully made and Your worth is not in Your outward appearance.

I never used to understand when people said that Jesus wrecked their lives but now I get it. He definitely wrecked mine and turned it upside down in the best way. He took everything I thought I knew about control and addiction and swept me into His arms. He told me I was loved when I felt unlovable and that I was beautiful in His image. He gave me scandalous, beautiful, amazing, grace. Today, I have the joy of working with college students and because of that. I have an opportunity to show others, specifically these students, that kind of love and grace that is scandalous and unheard of and it is because of my story of grace and the work of the gospel in my life, that I am able to do just that.

I am not sure if you read this and want to scream or if you read this and are in tears. Either way, I would love to hear your story of brokenness and redemptive grace. Because when we share about the mess and the beauty of grace in our lives, that is when the gospel becomes real. My friend I pray you know there is hope in whatever situation you face. Buckle up, because if you are willing to jump, you are in for the ride of your life.

May you always know how loved you are,

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You Know Her

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Three years, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago. Three years, and yet it seems like I don’t even know who that girl was. But I do, because she was me and deep down inside I know what it was like to be that girl. I remember every detail of my sweet therapist Shelley’s office. I remember the paintings hung on the wall. I remember the chair I sat in. I remember the tears that began to stream down her face when she told me I needed more help than she could provide. I remember the sobs that came from me and the Kleenex she handed me as she held my hand. I remember standing up and giving her a brave smile. And I remember the hug she gave me as I left her office, knowing I had a decision to make.

If you had bumped into me in a coffee shop a little over three years ago, you would have thought I had it all together. I always had the right outfit with the right accessory. I had bow in my hair and the biggest smile you have ever seen on my face. If you were my friend a little over three years ago I would have sat across from you at coffee and told you that I was just fine. I might have admitted that I had a little issue with food but that I had it under control. Deep down inside I knew I had a problem but I was okay with the problem because I didn’t want to let go of the control. Ed was ruining and wrecking my life.

That day in counseling three years ago I made a decision. I decided that I would stop letting Ed take control and I would start fighting for freedom. And I haven’t stopped since that day. Because of His amazing grace, and an incredible support team professional and personal, I am where I am today, living a life of freedom.

While it seems like much more than three years ago that I sat there terrified of what may come, I remember who that girl was and even more I see her all around me. She is the one who looks like she has it all together. She is the one who is involved in everything. She is the one who always has a smile on her face. She is the one who is the first to help you with all your problems. She could be your best friend, your sister, your boss, your mom, your wife.

You may have no idea she has a problem because you think she has her life all together. You may see her comment on food. You may see her be a “picky eater”. You may even see her count calories or exercise. But you think nothing of it, because in today’s society, talking negatively about our body or food is acceptable. You may think nothing of it because you too have those behaviors.

Can I tell you a secret? She needs you. Whether she wants to admit it or not. She needs you to hold her hand. She needs your hugs. She needs your love. She needs your support. Even more she needs to know that you don’t love her any less because of this. She needs to know that you don’t think she’s crazy. She needs you to know she will mess up and it will be hard but you will stand by her. That smile on her face is hiding her pain and her put together outfit and life are facades in order to fool you into thinking she has her life together. She wants you to think she has it all under control when really her control is slipping through her fingertips.

So love her and show her grace. Help her when she needs it and listen when she asks. If it weren’t for those people in my life I would have never made it in recovery. Eating Disorders are horrendous for the people dealing with but they are also terrifying for the people surrounding them. Loved ones often want to help but they have no idea how. So for those of you who are struggling, let someone in today, I promise you won’t regret it. For those of you who love someone struggling with Ed, hold their hand and listen. You can’t fight the battle for them but you can love, support and show them grace while they do it, and I promise you it will make a bigger impact than you know. And to my lovely support team, friends, family, professionals, thank you will never be enough. Because of your support, love, and pointing me back to His grace, I am living three years of freedom. Oh happy day indeed!

Know today and everyday, you are loved and you are worth it!

xoxo,

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*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any kind of counselor or medical professional, just an Ed survivor and advocate.  I also in no way believe that only women suffer from Ed so know that this could easily be for men as well. Even more, I don’t want you reading to believe that if you or someone you know smiles a lot, wears put together outfits and is a driven person that means you or they have an Eating Disorder. I simply want others to take notice that often the people we least expect to have issues are the ones that do. If you or someone you know has an Eating Disorder these websites below are great resources:

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

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Remembering Why

 

When I was a sophomore in college I wrote a book. I never published it, in fact I never wrote it down because truth be told it was all in my head. I worked at a doctor’s office and that summer as I typed up documents, filed patient’s charts, scanned paperwork and worked silently, I “wrote” my book. I thought about everything I would tell young women and men who struggled. I knew even then that your story mattered and was worth telling. Years went by, and I put the book on the shelf, never to be published or read. Because it is tough to tell your story and it is scary but even through the pain and tears it is what we have to do.

Nearly two years ago, I started this blog to tell my story and in doing that I did one of the bravest things I’ve have ever done, I told my story to the world. I thought it stopped there. I thought if I shared my story here I wouldn’t have to keep doing it. I wouldn’t have to continue to be real and vulnerable. I wouldn’t have to continue to open myself up to others but I was wrong. Because my story is about leaving perfection and learning grace. It is about a journey through recovery. It is about saying that some days are extremely hard and tear worthy and some days are filled with sunshine. But even more it is saying that my story in no way, in no manner is about me. It is about a grace so big that it wipes away all my shame and says you are made clean. You are not your eating disorder, you are not your depression, you are not your anxiety, you are not your past mistakes and shame because you were made clean by grace. You are dearly loved and always will be.

So because I know that grace, because I know that love I share my story and I will continue to share no matter what. And my friend I hope you share your story too and know that grace is bigger. And may you always remember…

You matter and you are loved,
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The Beauty of Recovery

This week I got to celebrate a week that I have never celebrated before…National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. It is a week that up until a year ago I had no idea it existed and even last year I wasn’t ready to celebrate it. However, this year I was ready to put on my party hat and go.  You see my friend, that’s the beauty of recovery…

This week I have learned all about the beauty of recovery and I am so beyond blessed to be at this place in my recovery, to not only get to experience recovery everyday but also see the immense beauty in it. This past week I got an opportunity to be interviewed on the news. In my interview, I talked about how beautiful life can be and is, one you make the decision to recover. I’ve said it before but it is definitely not all roses and sunshine but it is so beautiful even in the midst of the mess. I can’t imagine sharing that view point a year ago but I was told that this year my eyes sparkled with the joy of recovery and I can’t imagine a better compliment. That is the beauty of recovery.

During this week, I also got to bring an amazing woman and dear friend to speak at TCU, Lori shared with nearly 5oo women about her journey with an eating disorder and her story of recovery. There is nothing more encouraging than seeing young women and men listening to how to recover and then making the decision to recover. Lori has a passion for helping other women and I am grateful to be able to work with her this semester and help other men and women who struggle with Ed. As I sat in the room Tuesday night and listened to Lori speak my eyes couldn’t help but fill with tears as I thought back to myself a year ago. I can’t count the amount of times I heard about eating disorders and sat there in denial, that it wasn’t me they were describing and that I didn’t need help. Yet, my life was collapsing around me and I could barely keep my head above water. However, Tuesday night I got to be the one who introduced Lori and I got to share part of my story. That is the the beauty of recovery.

Life truly has come full circle and I am amazed that a year later I am in the place that I am. It is nothing short of a miracle. This year I have learned that recovery is truly beautiful and there are so many things to be enjoyed in recovery. I can enjoy eating chocolate cake. I can enjoy getting dressed and going shopping. I can enjoy a meal out with friends. I can enjoy precious time with my friends and not be distracted. I can enjoy being vulnerable. I can enjoy being a mess at times because I don’t have it all together. I can enjoy my life to the fullest. I can enjoy sharing my story with others. That is the beauty of recovery.

There are so many things that recovery has taught me and once again I was reminded of this during my week of celebration. I used to never be able to deal with a change of plans, a surprise, or the unknown. None of these mixed well with my desire for control. This week I feel like my life has been filled with the unexpected surprises, twists, turns, blessings and more. And now all I do is laugh and say I should have figured:)  Not having to have my life, my week, or my day planned/or turn out how I thought it would, that is the beauty of recovery.

My life is full and I am grateful for this journey that I started on two years ago. It makes life amazingl, messy, fun, joyful, and a little crazy at times but sooo beautiful! So my friend I hope if you are reading this you know that this can happen for you too. Next year during this special week I hope you will be celebrating with me and soaking in all the beauty that is recovery…and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK