Never Quit In Recovery
Recovery can be a long road, keep fighting until you reach the finish line
What I love about the Navy seals is that they are trained to never quit or give up. During their training they are pushed to their emotional, physical and mental limits, so that they can be strengthened for service and battle. There is something every Navy seal goes through in their training and its called hell week. During this 5 days of hell week, they are given little food and water, and most of their exercises are done in the cold water. The whole 5 days they are given little to no sleep, which pushes their minds and bodies to their limits.
In the middle of their camp is a bell they can ring at any time to quit. When they ring this bell, it tells everyone they are done. They are then able to get a hot bath, food, a nice warm bed and a first class ride home. When they ring this bell, they are never able to come back. During hell week, two- thirds of the people drop out. It's sad I know, but this week is designed to separate the weak from the strong. Being a Navy seal is no small matter, they are special forces that have top secret operations that keep our nation safe. Most of what they do will never be talked about or end up on the evening news. But they are all America’s heroes. Silent warriors that fight for our freedom everyday.
During battle they are often faced with impossible situations and go into battlegrounds where death is always a possibility. So if they want to quit in the middle of an operation, then they will be putting millions of lives in jeopardy. This is why their training is so hard because only a few will ever become Navy seals and see the battlefield.
In life we are like these Navy seals. We may not have top secret operations or join the armed forces. But we are often faced with trials that have a bell in the middle of them, the bell that we can ring to quit. It may be in recovery, maybe it gets too hard, so we want to ring that bell to quit. It may be in a friendship, family trials, school, or a job. Maybe things get so hard, that we want to ring that bell and give up. When we ring that bell, we surrender our right to victory, and we accept defeat. We walk away, and will never get the chance to experience what victory will taste like because we didn't endure until the end.
What we can do in order to guarantee victory is remove that bell from those situations, and not allow quitting to be an option. When we do this, we will look at the dawn and run towards it until we touch the light and taste victory. We will keep running in this race called life until we reach the finish line. And never give up on people, relationships, family, and recovery. Live to conquer and surrender defeat.
Ché tells her story of overcoming eating disorders and the healing God brought to her heart and life
I don’t particularly see myself at the end. The end or any ending usually embodies some type of completion. But when I look over the story God has woven thus far, I can see His testimony unfolding and my life beginning.
I wasn’t born in tragedy. I had two parents who, up until the time of their divorce, showed me love. I wasn’t abused by them or mistreated. I was pretty sheltered from so many painful realities of others I know who somehow wound up in the same place as me. At the age of 17 I would begin my first diet. Yet, at the age of 18 I would be a functioning anorexic. By nineteen I would begin purging my food (throwing up) in order to maintain my weight and not be deemed another Orange County chick with an eating disorder. I’ve told this story so many times and each time I feel like I leave something out or miss something. But God alone knows the details behind how I became who I am now from who I was then. And ultimately it is by His grace that I became His child and set free from the bondage of eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder.
The molestation I endured from a family member didn’t stop until I was in 6th grade. By 4th grade I had become aware and disgusted by what was taking place and had begun to say the words “no” when the time to play “games” arose. The games always ended with me doing something sexual or having something sexual done to me. I was told early during the games that I liked it which made it all the more confusing and shameful when I realized it was wrong a few years later. On top of the personal stuff taking place, school seemed to have the same effect. In second grade a girl who was the particular ring leader of a group I was beginning to hang out with decided to initiate me into the gang. The bathroom was cleared out and I was forced to play certain sexual games with girls I was friends with while the ring leader watched in approval.
Between the years of 4th and 6th grade the word ‘no’ had made me less of easy prey from all ends. 4th grade ring leader had left school and set me and my friends free from her reign of manipulation and my personal attacks had seemed to cease at home. Or at least I had thought so until I was awoken one night to the unfamiliar feeling of an arm wrapped around me and a struggle of some sort taking place behind me in my bed. I’ll never forget the waves of emotions that washed over me. Confusion, alertness, panic… After the panic faded I began to think of my possibilities. I could silently lay there and allow whatever was being attempted to be done to happen and pretend nothing had happened the next day to risk drama and embarrassment; Or I could turn my elbow up with the hardest possible force I could emit at their face. I chose option B.
The night ended with me managing to confess what had happened to an adult and being told I had lied about the event. The case was closed and ruling had not gone in my favor. I was about 10 years old. I didn’t sleep in my room that night. In fact, for the rest of my life, until I hit 19, I struggled with not only sleeping in my bed but falling asleep at all. Once I fell asleep I would wake up scared something had happened while I was sleeping and I became a stealthy guard dog constantly listening for sounds and silent attacks hoping to protect anyone from what could happen when they closed their eyes.
By 8th grade, I didn’t realize it then, but I had gone into a weird state of depression masked with humor and joy. I had become a professional at getting close to people and making friends and being outspoken but that was as far as relationships went. I didn’t trust anyone, especially men, with the secrets I was too ashamed and confused to admit aloud to anyone including myself. My mind had become a prison of conflict with the reality I had lived and the reality I was desperately trying to make come true. The reality where I had been involved in things that I somehow asked for and welcomed but could never tell another soul without risking public humiliation and rejection was something I wanted to be freed from and the more I ignored it the darker my filter and perspective became.
Year by year I began to retreat further and further into my thought life where I was everything that deserved to be despised. Freshman year I began carving into my skin. I pretended it wasn’t the same as the girls who seemed to want “attention” that came to school drunk and with cuts on their arms. I was different, of course, because I was creating art through pain and just expressing myself. Plus, I didn’t broadcast it for anyone to see or mention it so that made it perfectly okay and normal. Just another secret I had to keep to myself. Sophmore year I tried to take a few sleeping pills hoping that I could have a peaceful death since I could never seem to bring myself to actually cutting my wrists the “right” way. I ended up just falling asleep and waking up upset. Junior year I spent a few months researching marijuana and decided that everything I was feeling and believing could easily be cured by just smoking weed. A lot of my friends had already started smoking weed Freshmen year and were doing somas, vicodin and other drugs by Junior year. Weed seemed like a safe alternative to being miserable on earth and not ending up in a mental institution. I wanted to be happy I just hadn’t found anything that could take me there and keep me there yet. Weed was the answer. I managed to get through Junior and Senior year high for every class I had and actually enjoying school and people a bit more. By the time I had graduated I was somehow even more depressed and suicidal before smoking weed but I had no way of escaping the thoughts that screamed at me that my life wasn’t worth living. I was running out of things to hang onto to keep me on level ground. My friendships had all fizzled from my inability to open up to anyone and I was hanging on by a thread of hope that maybe someone would just walk into a place and shoot me in my head so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.
That summer after graduation so many things happened that I would later understand to be God’s beautiful providence at work leading my to salvation. I met someone who showed me love and affection. I shared my scars and threw up years worth of pain and suffering. I’d found my god in the form of a relationship. I was safe for a while knowing it was possible to feel wholly accepted. But it was short lived when I was confronted in the areas of harmful patterns and behaviors. The starving, barfing, depression..etc… Everything was brought to light and I was encouraged to seek help. There’s too many details in this part to really type but God had began to draw me to himself and I was lead to a church where I received my first bible and began to read the scriptures. I couldn’t stop drinking in the truth and having my mind washed and renewed. I was being transformed, saved, from darkness into light and I had no idea. I eventually let go of that god and life for the sake of knowing Christ and making Him known. I am forever thankful for His spirit making me new and whole…
Today I sit writing this all out with one hope: that God would draw more to His son Jesus Christ through my story. I wasn’t special… I wasn’t doing the right things and asking the right questions and then saved. I was everything but that actually. I was a woman on the run, hurt and bruised by the dark, mean world she’d been forced to live in. I was a victim and completely hardened against any type of hope that came from an unseen God. BUT GOD. He reached down into my world of suffering and isolation and drew me up to Himself and breathed NEW LIFE into me. He filled me with waters that cannot be quenched and clothed me in an imperishable righteousness that is like a cloak of promise shouting to the world around me that “HE is mine and I AM HIS”. He lead me to Himself and He used so many things to speak His truth to me.
If you’re reading this and can relate to my story or know someone in that place of bondage I once was held captive by I pray you will call out to the God who intervenes to pardon the guilty. I pray you would speak your pain out loud and ask healing from the God who delivers those in chains to an everlasting freedom in eternity. I live a life of struggling still. I don’t get to walk as if I never sinned against a holy God.
There are consequences to bad choices and decisions. But God is with me and has imprinted upon my heart that He will get glory from every nook and cranny of my story. Yes, even BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED. He has broken me in order to pour me out and draw others to Him. I know that a lot of people want to “try” God and see if He can help them with their problems but that isn’t how it works. I didn’t “try” nothing y’all. I gave Him everything!! Everything I could give I gave and asked Him to have His way. I haven’t stopped walking forward since. I don’t think I’m the most beautiful girl and some days I want to be 20 pounds smaller. But God is WITH ME and He corrects me as I stray from Him and draws me to the truth. I’m not called to think highly of myself, I’m called to think on Him and worship Him for who He is and what He has done for me. It isn’t about me at all!!!
He has me and He will perfect me as His bride and keep me until the day He returns. I will never be lost again. I am found! And I pray He finds you in these words today.
This life with Christ is a journey into a state of perfection and we have to be patient and trust Him if we are going to claim to love Him. It’s a process and it will be worth every single tear shed and bump in the road. He will transform you overnight and continue day by day whether you see it or not.
Be of good courage, He is able.
Model and Founder of Beauty Has No Size tells the truth behind the camera
When I got home from my photo shoot today, I took a quick glance in the mirror. I saw the smokey eye shadow, fake eye lashes, and dark plumb lipstick from my photo shoot earlier that morning. As I stood in front of the mirror, I remembered back to this amazing weekend I just had. Speaking on Friday night to a group of young women, wearing pajamas, playing amazing games and taking goofy pictures. Then on Saturday spending time with amazing friends at a conference, starting a drum circle, and laughing till our stomachs hurt. Yet when I looked in the mirror at my makeup, I realized something. I felt more beautiful this weekend hanging out with young people, playing in a drum circle, wearing little makeup, and running around barefoot...then I did on set today at my photo shoot wearing all this makeup. Then it struck me..feeling beautiful has nothing to do with the makeup we have on, clothes we wear, or how we look in a picture. It has everything to do with the freedom that explodes from our hearts, the light that shines from our souls, and the joy that illuminates from our eyes. Makeup, fashion, and pictures are cool. And you can have all those things and still not feel beautiful. But true beauty, freedom, and joy come from knowing who you were born to be..and living that out. Photo shoots don't make me beautiful, freedom DOES.
God sees a masterpiece in our brokenness, and beauty in the midst of our pain.
As I walked into the hallway of the museum, I looked up and saw something so beautiful. A stained glass window. Observing the myriad of small glass pieces that made up the mural, I couldn’t help but wonder how long it must have taken to piece it all together. Looking at the description of this work of art, I read about how all the small pieces of glass that made up this masterpiece, were gathered from many shattered colored vases, gathered from many trashcans, and other broken vessels. Seeing a picture of the artists hands to the side of the description, I saw that his hands were callused, blood stained, and dirty. Callused from piecing all the broken pieces together, blood stained from the sharp edges piercing his skin, and dirty from digging through the trash to pick up the broken pieces from the garbage.
Looking up at the stain glassed artwork, I wondered how the artist pieced it all together. I mean, there were so many pieces, all different shapes and sizes, and all put together so perfectly by the artist to create a beautiful mural. Sitting down in on the bench in front of the artwork, I sat and stared at the stain glass window. I looked inside of my heart at my own brokenness, at my own life, and saw myself as these shattered pieces of glass I remembered how broken I was, shattered I was, and the pain that came from that brokenness. I looked back at how I had tried to mask my brokenness with eating disorders, cutting, the latest fashions, hobbies, and accomplishments. But no matter how many masks I put over my brokenness, the masks were not able to hide the broken self-image that lay beneath.
Putting my head in my hands, I felt the tears running down my eyes, and fall to the floor. I remembered the day when I saw my life in pieces before me, with my hands on my head, I wondered how this shattered life could ever be pieced back together again. In my moment of brokenness I remembered Gods love surrounding me. Standing up, I remember pointing to my life that was in utter despair, and asking God how it will ever be pieced back together again. When I left my shattered life in God’s hands, He became like the artist who made the stain glassed window. Slowly He began to pick up the pieces of my life one at a time. Placing them on a table before Him, He pictured how my life could be and will be, then He set off to work.
Night and day night and day, He pieced back together my life until it was whole again. Piecing back the brokenness, the cutting, eating disorders and depression brought into my life. I pictured how His hands would have looked like after He was done. It must have looked like the hands of the artist that I saw in front of me from the stained glass window. His hands must have been callused, bloody and full of dirt. Callused from piecing back the broken pieces of my life back together, bloody from the sacrifice He made for me in the cross, and dirty from the dirt of my life He picked me up from.
Looking up at the stain glassed window again, as I sat on the bench in the museum. I smiled, through my tears, because I realized that the mural in front of me, was really like the mural of my life. How God pieced back the broken pieces of my life, as shattered as it was, until it created a beautiful picture like the one that stood in front of me. I was thankful in my heart, because God never stopped piecing me back together. He didn’t tell me I was too far gone, too messed up, and too broken. He saw a masterpiece in my brokenness, and beauty in the midst of my pain. Closing my eyes, I thanked God that day for the work He did for me in the cross. I thanked Him for never giving up on me, and for shining through my brokenness just like that stain glassed window.
Christina Boudreau- Founder of Beauty Has No Size
Savannah tells her story of overcoming self harm and cutting, and how beauty is found in broken places
Hi Savannah thank you so much for doing this interview for Beauty Has No Size. How old are you, and can you tell us a little bit about your hobbies and what kind of music you like?
My name is Savannah Kathlynn and I am 17 years old! I love all kinds of music, whatever fits my mood. My hobbies include singing, late night walks, and swimming. I love going out but, I also enjoy staying home and hanging out with family.
Wow that is so amazing, can you tell us a little bit about your story?
My story begins with a bad relationship with my father and the resounding abuse that I endured for 14 years of my life. It all started with my father beating and talking down on me at the young age of 3. That's as early as I can remember anyways. Then at age 4 when my father was remarried to his second wife I got a new babysitter from the church my grandparents attended. When I was nearly 5 I was molested by my 17 year old babysitter in the church bathroom. The next incident happened when I was 7 til 14 I was continuously taken advantage of by one of my family members and their friend. I was a mess and against God for all the wrong reasons being hurt and abused by people who were supposed to be family. I spent my life not knowing of any male figure who stood up for me or protected me.
At what point in your life did you feel the urge to start self-harming?
I began self-harming at the age of 10; incidentally I began writing poetry at the same time. What made me begin self-harming was the fact I started to become more aware of my emotions and the abuse was more evident in my life.
Did you know you were hurting yourself, or did you not care at the time because you were in no much pain on the inside?
When I began self-harming it didn't really matter to me because the pain inside was more surreal.
For how long did the self-harm go on for?
My self-harm went on for 6 years. I was on and off self-harming with my depression being so bi polar making its bittersweet rounds.
What are some of the things that caused you to self-harm?
Honestly the cause of the beginning of my self-harming was just looking for an alternative to dealing with the pain that I was feeling on the inside. Feeling was just too intense.
At what point did you start getting help, and want to stop the self-harm?
I started to seek help when I was almost 15 and a lot of my abuse in the past just became too terrible to deal with on my own anymore. The cuts were spreading and getting deeper. I knew it was time to get help. I was sent to a hospital for teenage girls who self-harm. After a long 5 days of reflecting and talking to counselors the need to cut evaporated and I felt a lot better.
Did you have a good support system around you with friends and people at church?
One of my best friends Alyse who I had met in a small group. She was there for me through it all and when things were rough and pointed me towards God when I was the most vulnerable.
Do you feel like self-harm is really an outward reflection of the inner pain that is going on inside of people's hearts?
I believe that self-harm is usually an experimental thing and it either works or it doesn't. For pain that's inside, cutting only stimulates the pain for so long. Dealing with it is the only thing that gets us through any pain. I believe a lot of people will go through lengths to suppress inner pain.
What are some of the biggest lessons God has taught you about self-harm?
God has taught me to love myself and express what I'm feeling on the inside, make myself as transparent as possible.
What advice would you give to someone who is dealing with self-harm?
The advice I can give to those who struggle with self-harm is deal with it head on. Pour yourself into something creative, open your mind to something that makes you feel free! Let yourself feel what's inside.
How important is it to have positive people around you as you are recovering from self-harm?
Being around positive people makes the biggest difference people can influence you to do better things with your life and turn you to positive alternatives.
A lot of people today say that people who self-harm are just doing it for attention, what would you tell people who believe this myth?
Self-harm isn't just a ploy for attention. It's a way for people to deal with pain.
What advice would you give family or friends on how to help someone who is dealing with self-harm?
My advice to those who have family and friends with self-harm addiction is to let them open up and hear them out. Love them and let them know that no matter what you'll always be there for them through their trials and hurt.
What are some things that you have done instead of self-harming, when you feel anxiety, or when you feel pain in your heart?
I sing. I go to a place that I know no one will bother me, and just sing at the top of my lungs. Other times I cry, I let myself feel what I keep suppressing because afterwards I feel so much better. I recommend sitting down and letting yourself feel. Open yourself to the possibilities of emotion. Free yourself and expand!
What are some things that other people could do to cope with their pain in a healthy way instead of self-harming?
I say throw yourself into something creative. Let yourself be open to opportunity to step outside of the box. For some people, music helps. Others art. Pretty much anything that will keep you busy and keep your thoughts and hands distracted. Go somewhere, surround yourself in beauty, write a story, read a book, call someone up! There are many different things people do and can do when they are down and out. It's always best to throw yourself into something that's a challenge but also holds intrigue for you.
Christina is passionate about restoring value, purpose, identity and beauty to the young women of this generation. Follow- @beauty_hasnosize