If you want it in the short version:
Married secretly at 18. Divorced at 19. Developed a self-image problem at 20. Gained an eating disorder at 21. Found God again at 25. Married my best friend at 26. Healed at 27. A new woman at 28.
If you want the long version:
I was a pretty good kid growing up. Always had fantastic grades, was always in extra curricular activities and I had friends. I was always a leader not a follower except when it came to boys. I fell for my high school sweetheart as many teenage girls do. In the beginning things were “lovey dovey” and then we grew apart – breaking up and getting back together every 2 weeks. Jealousy. Ridiculous fights. Typical high school stuff. When I turned 18 years old I told my mom at 8:00am on a Monday morning (and my dad at 5:30pm that night) I was moving to Fort Bragg, NC with him. I was out the door by 6pm and headed to NC. After living there about a month got married. A beautiful, gorgeous… courthouse wedding standing in front of a piece of glass repeating vows. No one knew. Not my parents, my sisters, friends, not a single soul except our two witnesses. It was downhill because it never started up hill. After 4 months the marriage was over and on to divorce. I began to pray for God to allow him to officially ask for the divorce if I had made a huge error – and if we were supposed to be married let us work it out. I felt like I had screwed up and didn’t want to again. Eventually, he did ask for the divorce. I had gained my first step of faith in trusting God. After 6 months of prayer he had answered it. Married in July and divorced by the following August was a long time to deal with something this emotional in complete silence. I broke my silence and told my parents a few months before that August. At 18/19 years old I had run away, gotten married, retained a divorce lawyer and was fighting for myself to hold things together… I kept asking myself why didn’t it work? I had failed at marriage and God was never going to forgive me.
Looking back, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I equated sex as love. I thought a tangible touch of skin to skin, a kiss, an “I love you” was going to fill every void I had. But it didn’t. The sexual attraction ran out. So did the “love”. The side effects of this time in my life were long-suffering. Poor decisions make for horrible consequences. A sign of true love is not constantly checking up on each other – but instead trusting one another. True love is so much more than Hollywood rates it to be.
With the divorce final, I decided to take a year and not date anyone. I decided I was going to make myself over both physically and mentally. I started exercising – normally 3 or 4 sessions of 30-45 minutes on a treadmill. Nothing over the top. What I didn’t realize… I was not eating – I had lost my appetite. After 4 months I was eating a piece of toast a day and drinking coffee. That’s it. I was wearing size 1 jeans, C-Cup bras, and small shirts. “I must be doing something right!” I thought to myself. I loved the way I felt… so I kept doing it. Others were telling me how good I looked too! It probably took 8 or 9 months but eventually I went past the “looking good” point. I had sunken cheek bones, collar bones sticking out, pale skin and loss of hair. I would shower and while shampooing, clumps of hair would be falling out. I remember sitting in the shower floor crying because I was losing my hair. Anyone who knows me well enough knows I take pride in how I look as far as wearing makeup, taking time to do my hair, etc. I had bald spots on my scalp where no hair was. It was so thin… It was horrible. I hate even writing this right now because of the memories it brings up. I had no muscle, skin that just hung – felt like my skin had no elasticity.
Looking back, I was trying to fill myself up with looking to a certain standard to fit in. To be popular. To look like certain girls. I became obsessed with how I looked to fulfill a void of some kind. I kept trying and trying but even when I got super skinny – it didn’t gain me friends, popularity or a sense of fulfillment. It only gained me pity.
I finally admitted to having an eating disorder and starving myself. I was very blessed because I had family who were pushing me to open my eyes to having this problem so I was never so bad to get hospitalized or anything like that. I began eating again and WOAH! did I suffer consequences from this. Reversing the eating disorder, I began to eat. Weight slowly came back on – but as it came back on I tried to maintain it by exercising. What began as 3-5 sessions of 30-45 minutes each turned into 5 days a week, at least 1 – 1.5 hours at the gym. I fit the gym in above everything else, even getting up at 5am every morning because I just had to fit it in. I pushed off friends, family, my boyfriend, didn’t matter… all that mattered was my workout. I began to punish myself for eating.If I ate fast food, I had to workout. If I ate cake, I had to do an extra 20 minutes. If I ate cookies, I needed to do some extra abs. The process was devastating to my mind and took its toll.
Looking back, all I did was replace one issue with another. I didn’t fill myself up with what I should have. I didn’t love myself at all.
In 2003, I started dating a guy named Shane. He was fabulously sexy, sweet, went to church, talented, had the cool car, was popular… everything you could ask for. In 2009, he proposed to me and in September of the same year we were married. God had sent me someone who was divinely set aside for me. God wasn’t mad at me for my former mistakes but instead forgave me for them and still blessed me with a lifelong husband. Not only did he bless me with a husband but someone who would become my best friend. There is no better feeling than knowing you are with the one person God set aside for you – and you only find this person when you are living right. Otherwise you fall into what your flesh likes – not necessarily what God has in store for you.
While I had a great life – fabulous husband, a house, an SUV, and all the trimmings, in my eyes I still looked horrible. Something was still missing. I would look in the mirror and see abs that were coming in, but a butt that looked massive. Or biceps that were defining but legs that were three times the size they should be. My eyes saw things that were not there. I struggled internally with this for quite some time. No one knew except my family and among them, only those who picked up on it. I was a professional at plastering the “everything is great” face.
In 2010, while at church getting ready for drama practice, my sister pulled me into “the loft” (the youth room). When I walked in, these kids were praying, dancing, shouting and surrendering their all to God. I was in a horrible mood as it was and I didn’t want to be there. Slowly, I could feel the Holy Spirit taking hold of me. My stomach was burning and I had this level of anxiety in me that was indescribable. I felt like I just wanted to scream. Before I knew it, I was on the floor crying. One young lady named Kandace reached down and touched my stomach and began praying for me. She was saying things no one else knew about! Praying for me to be delivered of this wretched issue and move on. I was stunned. How did she know? How did this 18-year-old girl know what I was doing in the dark? I’ll tell you how… the Lord. I fell to the floor and began shouting the words, “I don’t want this anymore! I don’t want this anymore!” Before I knew it I shouted, “I don’t want this eating disorder anymore!” It was over. The building pressure in my stomach was gone. My anxiety was gone. I went home and ate a doughnut for the first time without remorse. God had delivered me from my issue!
Today, I see that being so focused on my weight, or my image means I’m not focused enough on my God. If I have time to dwell and worry about something then I am not spending enough time focusing on Him – because if I were I would know there is no reason to fear the unknown. My God delivered my body and mind from what I now know was body dysmorphia (also known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder). For me, it’s like an alcoholic. Everyday is a choice to make the right decisions. To choose to eat and not over exercise. I am one choice away from being back where I was. Everyday is another day I get to thank the Lord for hand picking me for Himself, carrying me in my moments of destruction and never giving up on me – and still choosing to bless me! After 7 years of destruction to my body – He was my new body. Today, I also have a growing relationship with my husband and together we are growing our relationship with God. Reading together, taking steps of faith together and praying with each other. I have a man who understands me, helps me, supports me and my dreams, and is the hardest worker I know. What more could I ask for? On August 17, 2011 I found out I was pregnant. A gift from God I never would have been able to receive had I continued a destructive path on destroying my body. How’s that for miracles?!
God is the author of all that I do. Nothing is better than to hear God tell you, “I love you.” I have heard Him first hand. It’s amazing.