Fairytales and Happily Ever Afters

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This quote has become a huge part of my everyday life. I constantly have to remind myself that when I begin to judge a person, most of the time I have no idea what their story is. I have no idea what they have gone through or what has made them the way they are. I have no idea what might have changed them. We all have stories, you have a story and I have a story. I am grateful for each of you that allow me to continually pour my heart out and tell my story…

For a long time I didn’t want to tell my story. I wasn’t comfortable with it. I didn’t think it mattered. I didn’t think it was important. However, my story matters just as much as yours does. I honestly never thought I would get to a place where I would be able to tell my story to others and be proud of it, the good, the bad, the ugly, the messy, the mistakes but today I am. Just as that quote states we have all gone through things that have changed us. My story isn’t the same as yours and while many of you may be able to identify with pieces of my story I know there are many things that you can’t relate to, just as I cannot relate to yours and that is okay because all of our stories are as unique as the people who hold them.

From the time I was little I loooovveed reading. I would sit in my room and reads many books in a day, I could never get enough of the stories being told in the books. Whether, it was a princess in a fairytale or a love story I was wrapped up in the tale until I read the last sentences of a happy ending. I couldn’t go to sleep unless I knew that everything worked out in the end. When I was even younger and my dad used to tell me stories before bedtime I had specific rules for the stories he told some of them being: the stories couldn’t be sad, they had to end happy, no one could die, and no talking animals (I was all about it being realistic;)). Even as a little girl I wanted the stories handed to me with a happily ever after at the end tied in a nice little  pretty bow. Some of my favorite stories were the princess stories, where they find the prince and ride off into the sunset and the words following, literally state happily ever after.

Because I adored these tales and beautiful stories, I began to think my life should be lived as such. If at the end of everyday there wasn’t a “happily ever after” I didn’t know what to do. My friends, this isn’t the reality of life. Like I have said before, life is messy and broken and some days just aren’t the best. I began to think that because my story wasn’t a “fairy tale” it wasn’t worth sharing…what a lie that is. Now I am grateful that I know one day, I get  to have a happily ever after in eternity because of the most amazing grace but while I am here on earth life is often hard. We live in a broken world and we all go through many tough times, which makes telling our stories and sharing our hearts all the more important.

As I began the journey to recovery, the stories that meant the most to me weren’t the ones that told me life was full of roses but the ones that stated life is hard but you are going to make it through. In fact, the stories that were tied with neat little happily ever after bows I began to doubt as lies because I knew that here on earth there were so many struggles and issues that we try to stuff in the closet and that’s what I saw in the “real life fairy tale stories”. The stories that gave me hope, were the ones where people shared their pain, they shared their struggles and they told me how they fought hard to overcome the hardships in their lives.  Those stories told me how to find lessons in the mess and joy through the pain. They told me that while life wasn’t all sunshine and roses the fight to recover was worth the blood, sweat, and tears. And I am here to tell you that those stories are exactly right. Those are stories of unconditional love, scandalous grace, amazing mercy and blessings more than you could never imagine.

My friends my story is one of billions. I am not the only young woman who has suffered from anorexia, suffered from depression and anxiety and found grace and hope in the midst of it all. I am just one young woman who decided to share her story to bring hope. My story isn’t anything extraordinary but hopefully it is a story that encourages others and lets them know that they are not alone and that their story matters! Because friend, your story does matter, it is worth telling and through sharing it not only will you find healing but also you have no idea who could find hope from your story. I also want to address for a minute that even throughout the pain I have been as I like to say beyond blessed and I understand that many of you may have experienced pain I could never imagine and I want you to know that I know your story may be hard to even think about telling but I promise no matter how awful you think it is, there is hope! I don’t know each of your stories, I wish I did. I wish I could sit down with each of you, have a cup of coffee and hear the beauty that is your story. Those of you that I do know your stories, it is more encouragement and inspiration to hear them than you will ever know. You inspire me with your hope, grace, and love that encompasses each of your precious stories. I’ve said it before but we are all a work in progress…my story isn’t done and neither is yours, but friend don’t wait till you think  it is “finished” to be shared. You have no idea how much your story can be used. Share your story friend, no matter how unimportant, insignificant, painful, shameful, you think your story is…it is beautiful and it is worth telling. You never know who might need to hear your story, you have no idea how God can use it, you have no idea what He has in store for it, you have no idea how much hope and healing it can bring. So share your story this week and watch the beauty unfold…and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!!

<3MK

Messy and Beautiful

I was reminded today what it means to be truly beautiful and truly messy…There are a lot things and a lot of people who have impacted my journey through Ed recovery. However, I can honestly say that without this real messy and beautiful community I wouldn’t be where I am today. There are many memories that I will look back and cherish when I think of the last several years in recovery and those spent with this real community of people will undoubtedly be my fondest. Throughout my life I have had many dear, dear friends and if you asked many of my friends they would say I have an abundance of best friends. Today I was reminded of the importance of a community and not just a community but of people who I can be real with. It is through my real and raw community that I have made it this far in my journey…

For many years I tried to walk the journey alone…I kept the “I’m fine smile” plastered to my face while my heart broke. It didn’t matter what hardship or hurt came, I held it together because I could handle it. I didn’t need help. I didn’t want to open up and I certainly didn’t want to be a burden. Until one day, I broke…I couldn’t do it anymore. My life with Ed and so much other pain was too much. I needed help and I needed a community that could come alongside me. I needed people who could hold my hand, people who could wipe my tears, people who could speak truth, people who could see hope when I couldn’t. And when I reached out, when I cried help I was met ten fold with the most loving people I have ever met. I was surrounded with people who saw the light when I didn’t and who loved me in spite of my flaws.

I once had a friend tell me that he didn’t know anyone who had people who had real burdens or baggage in their lives. This statement made me sad because I knew that not only was it not true but it also meant that people in his life weren’t being real with one another. The fact of the matter is, we all have struggles, we all have burdens, we all have a story that has shaped and changed us. However, we have community to share in those struggles to help and love one another when life is too hard to bear alone and it is in that real community that we find our purpose for our struggles and helping others through theirs. I remember sitting in a car with a dear friend one night and after sharing my story and struggle, through tear filled eyes I looked straight at him and apologized. I apologized, for my story?! If I have learned one thing my friend, it is that you should never apologize for your story!!  I am so grateful that dear friend looked back and me and smiled and not only told me not to apologize but he also told me that this is what we are here for to help bear each others burdens and loads. I am grateful for that dear friend and the many since who have come along side me and not only helped bear my burden but also lighten it.

We all walk through some kind of our own personal wilderness and it is during those times that we are taught the most…it is there that we learn to love, to hope and to give and accept grace. The people in my life who are the most beautiful are the ones that have the most messiness in their lives. They are not only the ones with messiness in their lives but they are the ones with messiness who are not afraid to share it with each other and be real about their mess. They are not afraid to come up along side one another and love each other well through the mess and speak truth. They love unconditionally and give grace freely. They are the beautiful people who help give hope in the darkness and share the truth which brings life. It is with this community of real, messy, and beautiful people that I have experienced love and grace more freely than ever before.

If we are being truthful we all have a messy life and those of us who deal with an Ed (or whatever your Ed may be) know bondage all too well. Friend, let me speak some truth to you today, find that community to share in life’s messiness. Find people you can be real with, who you can share your story with. Find people who will share their own story with you, people who will give love, grace, and truth freely. Find people who can help you bear your burdens and you can help them bear theirs. These my friends will become the most incredible friendships you will ever imagine. It is never easy to be real, to be vulnerable, to be messy but it’s worth it. Once we are real and we take off the really pretty masks only then are we able to become the truly messy beautiful people we were created to be.  Believe me there are more people out there than you could ever imagine who will LOVE the real YOU…  and may you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK

A Strong Foundation

I have never really known much about building anything. I didn’t know all that building entailed. Sure I had my Lego extravaganza moments but I was never a master builder. I eventually learned, that in order to have a good structure everything I built required a good foundation. Instead, of focusing on building the coolest, highest building ever, I should have focused on making my foundation stable in order to create a lasting structure. Little did I know that my life was much like the buildings that stood for a few minutes and then came tumbling down…

A year ago my life was in utter shambles. For those of you who didn’t experience that part of my journey with me, be grateful. My life was a literal mess. Just like my beautiful buildings, for awhile, I looked semi sparkling on the outside but my foundation needed a lot of work because I was in the process of crumbling. I was depressed, anxious, hurt, scared, angry, undernourished, and so so weak. I had committed to my recovery but I was struggling step by step through it. What I would learn later is that I was rebuilding my foundation to be stronger, and to withstand anything that came my way.

My recovery a year ago was not only a struggle but a fight. I had to fight Ed it seemed every minute of everyday. I had to fight to put tiny bites of food into my mouth. I had to fight to eat many times a day. I had to fight to get out of bed. I had to fight to put my recovery first. And I had to fight to wake up each morning and do it again. Sound pretty awful? I’m not going to lie to you, it was. It was the hardest thing I have ever and probably will ever have to do. What I didn’t know at the time though, was that it wasn’t going to be awful always and that today looking back on a year ago I definitely do not feel awful. In fact, today I feel pretty wonderful.

As I mentioned earlier I didn’t know I was rebuilding my foundation. I was relearning how to eat, how to deal with stress, how to cope, and how to live my life without Ed. I was finding out who I was at the core and why I was the way I was and why I dealt with life the way I did and how to change quite a lot about myself. All of this challenged the foundation that Ed had helped me once built and the foundation on which my eating disorder survived. Since I didn’t want to continue living the way I once was I had to rip up my old foundation and start from square one.

My pastor on Sunday, said that to find out who we are we must seek outside counsel and have inside accountability. Well let me tell you folks I had my share of many hours of outside counsel by a phenomenal woman who I truly believe is one of the most amazing counselors. That in itself was great but each time I walked out of her office I had a choice to implicate the changes in my life that we had discussed that session. If i had been left to my own devices, I never would have done it, but thankfully I had many, many cheerleaders and supporters who kept me accountable and helped me recover. They not only encouraged me but they truly kept me accountable for my recovery and sticking to my plan.

Many counseling sessions, nutrition sessions, psych sessions, doctors appts, meals with friends, and phone calls later, I am here in a state of recovery I never thought possible. And honestly it would have never been had I not torn up that icky foundation which included my relationship with a Ed and laid a new one of grace, love, and acceptance. I may have had to do a lot of hard work to tear up and lay down a new foundation in my life but it would have never been possible without the support I received throughout this long continuous journey. I had a God who loved me and gave me grace unconditionally, friends and family members that displayed this unconditional love and support, and many professional support team members who helped me rip up and lay down a new foundation.

I have no doubt that this new year will come with its own sets of ups and downs and its own set of triumphs and struggles but I know who I am at the core now and I have a new foundation that won’t be torn down. As Marty Grubbs says, “It is going to take work to build a solid foundation because it will be tested. Your foundation has to be something you can hold on to that will not wavier in the storm.” And tested my foundation was but because of that testing it is now as solid as ever and throughout any storm I know it will stand strong. I will be tested and tough times will come in the coming years but my foundation will stand firm. Maybe you are like me and you had no idea that your foundation was rocky. Maybe you know you’ve needed a new foundation for awhile but don’t know how to do it. Maybe this all just sounds a little crazy and overwhelming. I can relate to all of it because I have been there. But let me tell you friend, there is hope and you can do it no matter how difficult and impossible it may seem. You CAN and you WILL do it but like Marty says it will be tested. However, let me add that it WILL be worth it to live a life free from Ed and drinking in that freedom of your new foundation and life will be something wonderful you could have never imagined.

So tonight I rejoice, I reflect, and I ring in the new year with someone who loves me exactly as I am. I know that not everyday will be an amazing day but that too is okay because I now have an unshakeable foundation, a faith that is stronger than ever, and freedom I never thought possible. I hope and pray that this is what you find in the new year, that you find the true freedom that living without Ed and building a strong foundation brings, because you deserve it more than you know. So as you get ready to toast to a new year…ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it,

<3MK

Darkness and lights…Christmas Lights

I was never really afraid of the dark as a little girl. Now mind you, I didn’t love it but it didn’t scare me the way that it does many children. In fact, unbeknownst to me the darkness became my friend for the longest time. Not only did I not know I was living in darkness, but I also didn’t have any idea how to get out of it. And there began my life in the darkness…

Christmas time is my favorite. I love the joy that spreads across strangers faces. I love the smell of peppermint. I love giving presents. I love Christmas Carols and Nativity Pageants. I love the true reason for the season. I love grace that encompasses the story of Christmas. However, I speak for myself and many others when I say that the holidays can be one of the most difficult and darkest times for those with a relationship with Ed, sad but true. From the holiday shopping, the family togetherness, the overwhelming amounts of baking, the huge amounts of holiday food, the endless parties, all of these and more for someone with Ed can truly make it one of the darkest times of year. And I all too well know and understand that pain and darkness.

Hard to admit but amongst my season of favorite things were some of my darkest days. While the beautiful Christmas lights shined outside I on the inside had a darkness that truly consumed me. It was hard to make it out of bed those days, much less put on a smile as bright as the Christmas lights outside my window. Christmas was an opportunity to be surrounded by food I couldn’t eat, people who noticed my weakened nature and parties that were torture to attend. Sound awful? It was…more than awful it was torture.

As sad as that story sounds, life and Christmas time is different these days and I don’t live in the darkness. Even more, I am at completely more recovered stage now than I was last year. Does that mean the holiday season is a breeze? No not necessarily. There are still more stressors and triggers during the holiday season than normal for me. And yes, that is frustrating and I could let it consume me and get me down, but I can’t and I won’t. We all have bad days and I myself am not immune to them either. However, now everyday is not a bad day, in fact the bad days are very few and far between and for that I am beyond blessed.

There was one time when I couldn’t imagine my life without Ed. Today I know what that is like and I have more than tasted that kind of freedom, so now the holidays are a million times easier. I know that is not always the case for many of us who struggle with Ed and because of that I want to encourage you during this tough season. A few Sundays ago at my church, my pastor said, “We are a church that celebrates with you when you come out of darkness, because we have all been there and know what it is like. We want to rejoice with you as you come into the light and out of the darkness.” So my friends, those of you who know that darkness of Ed, those who are living in it, those who are coming out of it, those who have come out of it, I want to celebrate with you because I have been there and I get it and believe me there is no shame or judgement on my part because I have lived it. I only want to rejoice in that freedom with you and let you know it is possible. I want to encourage you during this incredibly wonderful but also seemingly difficult time, there is a holiday and life without Ed. I want to celebrate and rejoice with you as you come out of the darkness and live in the light of recovery, this is my Christmas wish for you and believe me it will shine brighter than any Christmas lights. Because this freedom from Ed is one of the best presents you could ever give yourself on Christmas. Wishing you joy, peace, and love this Christmas and hoping you ALWAYS REMEMBER…

YOU are LOVED and YOU are WORTH it!

<3MK