Okay. This is not an easy post for me to write. It will be very long, and somewhat graphic (to some). Please understand that this is my personal story of what I battled in my teenage years, and if you’re ever feeling anything similar, that you reach out for help.
I want to start off with my favorite passage:
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. “
Let me start my story with how I was raised in an amazing and loving family. I was blessed to have been raised in a household of affection and caring, and I truly love my mother, my father, and my brothers dearly; and I truly feel loved by them, too. 🙂
As I was growing up, I was actually a very spunky and confident child. I even got voted for some kind of “Awesomest Kid in Class” Award (just kidding, that’s not what it was called. It was like… “best personality” or something, but voted on by my peers) in the 5th grade because I got along so well with everyone in my class.
In SIXTH grade, things changed. Now that we were in middle school, looks started to be a factor in your awesomeness. I hit my awkward stage around this time, the one where I’m holding on to all the baby fat that will supply my growth spurt. Then again, my awkward stage kind of lasted up into sophomore year. I started to be very critical of my body at this time.
How terrible… to be trapped in a body that is growing in ways that I can’t control… to watch my friends stay petite and cute while my thighs grow to gargantuan proportions (or so I thought, anyways).
I actually tried some diets in 7th grade, which is basically the time I began being aware of the foods I was taking in. I also started to see certain forms of exercise as ways to get rid of fat.
I grew up playing tennis, and played for my school teams since the 8th grade. I was super duper not good, but I still loved it. I worked on getting better at it when I got into high school, and I played on the JV teams for freshman and sophomore years.
During the 10th grade, something triggered in my mind and I started to really hate the body I was in. I decided that it was time to take control, and get the lean body that I desired. I started going to the gym everyday, restrict my eating, and be OBSESSED WITH NUMBERS.
I weighed myself everyday, I calculated the calories I ate, I kept track of the number of hours I worked out, and the rest of the day, I would think about food. I had certain foods that were labeled “Bad foods”: egg yolks, peanut butter, oil, anything deep-fried, rice, cheese, basically anything delicious.
My weight loss was rather drastic. I took myself from a healthy 130 pounds to 98 pounds within the course of 5 months. For a girl who’s 5 ft 7in? I was a walking set of bones.
My hair fell out (I swear, about 2/3 of my hair was gone), my skin was sallow, and I stopped having my period. Along the way, I believed that I was getting more attractive, when people were actually starting to be repulsed by me. I thought I was getting stronger and more disciplined, but I was becoming weaker and losing control. I thought I would gain more admirers, but I ended up being a topic of concern. I told myself I would gain more friends or love, but I just became buried in my own secrecy. The more I worked to lose weight, the lonelier I became.
My mom was so concerned that she took me to the doctor to have me checked out. My heart rate was 70/40. The doctor didn’t even know how I was walking around without getting dizzy. Though it was in the heat of summer, I wore a sweatshirt. I wanted to hide my bony arms and I was cold.
Whatever she told me triggered something in me that made me ravenous. I began to finally eat that day, and I started putting on the pounds.
What’s bad about this is that my body was starting to look healthier, but my mind was at war. I was still in a state of self-loathing, self-hatred, and self-worthlessness. The more my body began to gain its normal functions (Hello, period! Hello, hair on my head!), the more I despised it. I lost all control…
I would eat until I felt like my sides with rip open. I stuffed myself until I felt nauseous. My body had been starved for half a year, so it was going to feast for half a year. Makes sense, but I was disgusted with myself.
I battled depression through my junior and senior years (with my weight at a healthy 130), having been so close to what I wanted… which is to be frail, I guess. Yet I was back to being sturdy. They even put my on anti-depressants because of how much my thoughts were steering toward thoughts of self-harm or self-abuse.
It made me numb. It made me sleepy. I guess it worked for the time….
With all the people praying for me (my church teachers, my friends, my parents, my parents’ friends), I was able to open my heart for healing. I was so sick and tired of being alone… or even feeling crazy.
Do you know how many times they would tell me, “It’s simple! Just eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full!” and I would think I’m off my rocker because that was SO HARD for me to do.
In these times, I never felt SO LONELY. There could be no one who could understand this pain…
One night, I drove to a random parking lot and cried and cried, hitting the steering wheel (like in the movie 50/50 when Joseph Gordon-Levitt does that in his car), screaming out in agony. I hit rock bottom. Actually, I hit rock bottom like 15 other times before this, but THIS rock bottom was special.
My Bible sat in the seat next to me. I did one of those cliche things and said, “God, you better give me a sign right now. I’ve about had it with my stupid life.” And what do I open to? 2 Corinthians 1 (the verse I put earlier).
‘How can He be the God of comfort?’ I thought, ‘ And who the heck is going to comfort me right now???’ AND THEN… I get a phone call. It’s my friend (who happened to go through eating issues in high school as well). The best part is that she wasn’t calling to tell me some big news or huge updates, but simply because she was just thinking about me.
I believe God used her to reach out to me and comfort me. I cried and praised the Lord that night. He had been trying to comfort me through so many people, but I was blind to see Him. Since the situation became so urgent, He had to make it obvious that He was trying to comfort me.
Through the years since high school, I have still had to work on loving myself. Some days, I have no problem loving this strong body that God carefully and meticulously created for me. Other days, I complain and get sad over the extra wobbly bits.
But let me tell you this… running has never made me feel better about myself. Why the heck did God give me these powerful legs? Why these thighs of thunder? Because I can run around, charge up hills, and feel awesome during races! Who knew that I would love running this much??? My Heavenly Father.
Garsh. How much would I love to talk to my wretched, teenage self.
And those messages we’re receiving about not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, strong enough… Those aren’t messages from Our Father who loves us. He would never put us down like that. When we hold onto the truth of the Word, we’ll see that He only wants to uplift us.
Wow. I know this post was all over the place. I hope it made sense!
I hope that if you are hurting like I was, that you reach out to someone to at least talk to them. That is the hardest part. I wouldn’t want you to hit rock bottom several times before seeking help.
Remember that we can comfort others through the comfort we receive from God:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.