It’s been more than 10 years since I first began struggling with poor self-worth as a young girl. Things only got worse as I got older. Low self-esteem developed into self-hatred, anxiety, depression, self-harm and an eating disorder; all of which progressed until I lost the girl I once was. My mom finally saw through the fake smile and was determined to not lose her daughter entirely. 5 years ago today my mom, quite literally, dragged me kicking & screaming to Remuda Ranch in Wickenburg, AZ (now Remuda Ranch at the Meadows) – a residential treatment facility specializing in eating & related disorders. Little did I know at the time that my life would never be the same. I met some amazing people who changed my life for the better; people I will never forget. After I was discharged 60 days later, I had it in my head that I was going to be okay from there on out; that I was recovered, and I wasn’t going to let my illness control my life anymore. A few months, a relapse and a hospitalization later – I realized I still had a long way to go. I could go on about how I wish I was farther along in my recovery than I am, and how I think 17 year old me might be disappointed to see where I’m at today – BUT, I’m not going to. I have spent 5 years fighting for my life. I could have been in and out of treatment centers and hospitals. I could have dropped out of college and given up on myself entirely – but I didn’t. 5 years later and I’ve graduated college, landed a good full-time job, returned to my love of horses & barrel racing, and been able to be okay living on my own and supporting myself; none of which would have been possible without my desire for recovery.
5 years later and I do still struggle. Some days depression, anxiety & panic still take hold of my life. I’m still in therapy, I still have a fragile relationship with food, and I still don’t love myself like I should. But I am also alive, and that is something I am proud of. 5 years ago I was forced to look at myself and realize that the life I was living wasn’t truly living, and that I needed to make a change. Although these past 5 years have been some of the hardest of my life, I have learned so much about myself.
5 years later I’m still learning that I am worthy of love. 5 years later I am still learning that there doesn’t have to be an explanation behind “no.” 5 years later I’m finally working hard to take back my life from the men that took it from me years ago. 5 years later and I’m still struggling, but I am fighting. I am a survivor, and I always will be. No one can take that away from me. Recovery is a process, and maybe my process is longer than others. Maybe I’ve taken more steps backward than others. But my recovery is my own, and theirs is their own. I can sit here today and be proud of the woman I am. I am learning to set boundaries that were torn down long ago. I am learning to accept and love myself as I am. I can finally begin to see my worth through the eyes of my Heavenly Father, not through the mistakes of my earthly father.
If I had it my way, I wouldn’t be here today. But I thank God everyday for saving me, and for this wonderful life that He has blessed me with. I am so thankful for my family, my friends, and the countless professionals who have gone above and beyond to show me that my life truly is worth living, and that I really am loved.
My faith is what has gotten me through my lowest lows, and sometimes the only peace I am able to find from my anxiety is through Jesus. I’m here to tell you today that there is always hope even when all you can see is darkness. There is always someone who loves you and who would give their life for you. Never give up – there’s a reason you are here. While at Remuda I found a verse that has meant more to me than any other words I’ve read in the bible, take it to heart:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27
5 years later and I am still fighting, and I will continue to fight. My scars, both inside & out, will always be there to remind me how far I truly have come. This war may never be over, but I’ll count each day I wake up as a battle won.