"And now I know I was born good enough"- Ashley. Ashley tells her story of battling Anorexia and the beauty God brought from her brokenness.
Ever since I could remember I’ve had a twisted relationship with my body. It has been a thing of pride and a thing of hate. Getting more attention than was wanted or deserved or getting none at all. I never felt good enough. Never pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, creative enough. I was always anxious and always self critical, even in kindergarten getting made fun of I would be mortified and berate myself for about a week.
What I began to realize was that the only praise, or at least what I took as praise, that I got was for being tiny. Kids were possibly making fun of me telling me I had chicken legs, but my brain took this as a compliment. Had I finally found what I was good enough at? This was so damaging and so twisted, but that is what I went with.
My life at home did nothing to combat the negative self-talk and feelings of inferiority. Ever since I could remember I was terrified of my father. Terrified to disappoint him, terrified to say the wrong thing, terrified to look at him wrong, terrified to breath. The quick whip of his tongue could steal someone’s dignity for a very long time. I grew up learning that love was conditional and God was a God of wrath and judgment, not a God of love and forgiveness. Everything that I did wrong it was just a sentence to hell.
I was spanked regularly for things that looking back now, were absolutely ridiculous. I had severe separation anxiety and had panic attacks and cried every day in kindergarten. It was not ok to cry unless you were physically hurt, so I was threatened if my teacher reported that I cried again I would be punished. Of coarse I did and was forced to pull down my pants as my father whipped me with a belt. This is when I began to learn that emotions were evil and not to be felt.
The years following things were stripped away from me little by little until my mother finally decided to do what she had to do to take us out of the situation. We put our things in trash bags and went to a hotel while he was served with papers. The year following was awful. He broke into our house after he had said we could live there, he threatened to take me so my mother would never see me again. My anxiety was at all time high, I lived in a constant state of fear.
Fast forward to high school, the place where all good souls go to die. I entered into my first relationship that was completely destructive and every relationship after that was not much better. I was lied to, cheated on, and told I wasn’t good enough by every single one. The message I received from guys was that my body was all I was good for and it was the only reason they were with me to begin with.
In between all of this my body began to change as I went through puberty, I was a late bloomer. All a had that was good was my body, and now it was changing and becoming larger. I began to restrict my food when I was about 14. I would go back and forth from completely restricting to eating normally depending what was going on.
By the time I was 18 it had spiraled out of control. The very thing I was doing to feel more in control was completely out of control and I didn’t want to admit it. One morning I collapsed and had a seizure and the cat was out of the bag. There was no more hiding it. My mother knew I had a problem and took me to a psychiatrist who referred me to an outpatient eating disorder treatment center. I didn’t want to be there so I did what I had to do and say to get out. I faked weight by water loading and stuffing things in my underwear. I lied about eating on the weekends; I hid weight gain supplements under my bed. I did work a little in therapy, but not enough to recover.
I was discharged and relapsed shortly after. I think that I finally felt that I had hit rock bottom. I had nothing to live for I didn’t care if I lived or died so if I died thin so be it. I began to go to the church that I went to as a child, completely terrified. I was so confused because what the pastor was saying was completely opposite of what I grew up learning when I lived with my father. God may be a God of judgment, but he is also a God of love, and mercy, and forgiveness, and second chances. To justify his beatings my father used Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” A sermon that I sat in years later covered this verse and talked about how a shepherd’s rod was used to guide sheep not hit them, and that Is what a parents responsibility is.
Slowly, but surely I began to make steps towards recovery. God didn’t just take my eating disorder away I had to work and it was hard, but he did give me the biggest gift I have ever received. My husband. It took me a long time to trust that he wasn’t going anywhere. That he was gonna stick it out through my mental illness. I had finally met someone who loved me unconditionally. A year and a half later we were married. It wasn’t easy it was very hard. I still had so many irrational thoughts and fears that would surface, but my husband still stuck around and still loved me.
After we were married we faced a new hardship that turned our world a little upside down. Shortly after we were married I had a difficult time being intimate. I began having what I know now were flash backs of sexual abuse that I endured when I was little. I quickly spiraled into my eating disorder again as its all I’ve ever known. I got very sick very fast. While no one around us understood why I couldn’t just snap out of it my husband remained constant in his unconditional love and support.
I had to go to a residential treatment center this time, in Eugene Oregon. I was gone for three months and it was incredibly hard, but it was the best thing for me. I was finally able to be away and completely work on my self and my traumas. The biggest thing I worked on besides traumas was being good enough. I finally thought who the heck am I trying to be good enough for? The people that have abused me? The people who left because they didn’t want to deal with the rollercoaster that is severe mental illness? The ones that decided if you have to work too hard at a friendship it isn’t worth it? The people who have put me down my whole life? The ones who lied to me, cheated on me and continuously told me I wasn’t good enough? Actually yes…..that is who I had been trying to be good enough for my entire life. WHY?
I realized that the only ones I should worry about being good enough for are the ones who already love me unconditionally, therefore the term good enough is irrelevant. I could never be anything, but good enough in their eyes. Being good enough wasn’t earned it just was, because they loved me.
All my problems didn’t just disappear, but they get better everyday. Just because I have been strongly in recovery for three years doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle. Some days I hate my body. I overanalyze everything I say. If I hear someone say my fathers name in public I panic. I absolutely hate it when any man looks at me. But it gets better every day and now I know I was born good enough.
Christina is passionate about restoring value, purpose, identity and beauty to the young women of this generation. Follow- @beauty_hasnosize