It’s 7:24 p.m. and I’m sitting by an outdoor fire pit, waiting for the sun to dive into the mountains and leave a streak of pink as it darkens the western sky.

It’s the last place I thought I’d be this summer. And it’s exactly where I need to be.

As I’ve hinted at in a few of my spring blog posts, my battle with my eating disorder had become increasingly paralyzing. I started looking at treatment options in February and finally made a decision (and got a spot) at a program in Colorado. I’ve been here since mid-April and contrary to my assertions when I first arrived, it’s not a “quick fix.” And (ahem…. did you notice the dialectics there?), I’m learning to be okay with that.

Here’s the thing about being in a residential-level program: you grow very skilled at identifying your emotions. And one thing I’ve learned–aside from the fact that there are approximately 50+ words to describe sadness–is that I have been emotionally stunted for years.

I’ve let the bubbly and creative pieces of myself shine, but I’ve largely hidden deep wounds and trauma that I’ve carried since childhood. Turns out, that’s not a great idea. Turns out, I’ve been outsourcing my confidence.

I’ve always thought myself to be quite competent, and I’ve let that be my one aim. Perfection, I reasoned, was my safe house from pain. The cement foundation of perfectionism leaves no gap in which to fall; its walls have to crack. The problem, though, is that if you live in that space long enough, the air begins to run out.

When I decided to admit to treatment this spring, I had come to that point. I was in desperate need of help.

Thanks to 70+ hours of treatment each week, I’m happy to report that I can rattle off a Scripps Spelling Bee-sized list of emotion words. But that’s one of the only things I’m confident in right now.

For real! See, I’m learning that I’ve been confident in my identity very little in comparison to how confident I’ve been in my walls of perfectionism. For years, I have gathered strength from:

  • My reputation as a “good Christian woman”
  • My talent and hard work as a runner
  • My ability to earn and save money as a skilled professional
  • My “self-control” to deny my body food and push it to its physical limits
  • My singleness (a status that made me feel godly and sacrificial

That list is just five things. But they were the main sources of my identity. So, when I entered eating disorder treatment, I crumpled into a heap.

Gone was the strong woman I portrayed to others. Stripped of my strength sources, I saw myself for who I truly am: A strong woman who has a very wounded inner child; a child who needs to know she is unconditionally loved and safe.

In the subsequent weeks (I’d like to say “post breakdown,” but breakdowns are a standard part of the healing process I’m in), I have been meeting myself. I’ve been unearthing those wounds and grieving for who I was, what I endured, and who I am.

What am I confident in? I’m confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land I’m living in (Ps. 27:13). I’m confident that when I need assurance that I am safe, I can turn to Christ. I am confident that, someday, I’m going to see my worth and love myself regardless of the achievements I do (or do not) have to show for myself.

Once upon a time, I was a young child who was secure; a child who knew she was safe and loved. That innocence shattered, but my light and joy did not.

I’d bet you’ve had similar hardship—similar in that we are all broken people living in a broken world! Sometimes life really sucks.

And, I firmly believe that as long as you’re still breathing, the real you is still breathing as well. That’s what I’m fighting for: the knowledge that the woman God made is coming alive and that I have a purpose here.

I have dreams to chase and a unique niche that—somewhere and somehow—will allow me to make an impact.

So do you.

Let’s journey on together.



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