Marriage & Recovery

There was a time in my life when I wholeheartedly believed that finding “the one” would fix everything. That my prince charming would sweep me off my feet and make every insecurity and addiction disappear. Over the years I realized the naivety of this belief, yet there was still a part of me that believed, or maybe hoped, that having a ring on my finger would make every other struggle in my life vanish.

I’m here to say that this is 100% not the case.

I’d learned well before meeting Ryan that being in a relationship would never fix my problems. No man would ever come along and miraculously make my trauma disappear. However, there were, and always will be, men who try to convince women that they are indeed the answer to all of their issues. It’s these men who reinforce codependency and lead their partners even deeper into the pits.

One of the reasons I fell in love with Ryan to begin with was because he never tried to be my cure-all. He’s supported and encouraged me from the beginning, but has never pretended to be able to “fix” me. Instead, he has loved me through relapses, grief, insecurities, depression, anxiety & nightmares. To explain a bit more, this is part of the little speech that I gave at our reception:

“I’d never ever been the one to make the first move, or say those three little words first, but I did. He was different, he is different. He is my knight in shining armor, but not because he saved me. But because for the last three years he has challenged me to save myself and continues to be my support and my best friend… The point is, he is not like anyone I’ve ever known, and I cannot believe that I’m lucky enough to call him my husband.”

It’s been difficult for me figuring out this whole “wife” thing. I have the same, if not more, unconditional love and support from my husband, but I’ve been struggling. I think I’m trying too hard to identify who I am as a “wife.” I’m still me. I’m still the same woman who is learning to love herself, despite not necessarily liking what she sees in the mirror. I’m still the same woman who has claimed victory over some of her most aggressive demons. I’m still the same woman who is madly in love with Ryan Norton, and who is working so freaking hard, every day, to be a better human.

So here’s to marriage not fixing all of our problems, but to being able to celebrate the victories, big and little, with your permanent roommate. 👫

NN


You Are Enough

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I absolutely love this, because it is so right on. YOU are enough.

You are:
-beautiful enough
-thin enough
-fit enough
-smart enough
-enough for that person who thinks you aren’t
-enough for that job you really want
MORE than enough.

Never forget it.
😉

New Year, New Story

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It’s a New Year; in fact, I can’t believe it’s already five days into 2016.

Normally this is where I, and everyone else in the world, would reflect on backthe previous year, but too much of my life has revolved around the past. For me, 2016 will be a year of no looking back –  just moving forward. It’s okay to glance in the rear-view mirror sometimes… but nothing good happens when you can’t take your eyes off of the places you have already been.

The focus of my 2016 will be bettering myself so that I can selflessly love those around me.

Some of my resolutions include:
-To be & eat  healthier so that I have more energy to focus on the things and people that actually deserve my attention.
-Complete 200 hours of community service.
-Hike mountains and trails across Arizona (checklist to come).
-Apply to Graduate School (and hopefully decide what I want to do when I grow up).
-Place in the 2D in a local barrel race,,, my horse and our career is more of a priority for me this year than ever before.
-Go somewhere I have never been.
-Find a “home” church and attend regularly.

More than anything, I need to focus on all that I’m blessed with instead of focusing on the negative. This year, I have a new position at work that I will continue to excel in. I have some amazing, genuine friends. I am actively involved with the Crisis Text Line and the National Eating Disorders Association – two organizations that literally save lives every day. I am in a healthy, wonderful relationship with an incredible man. I have a faithful and prayerful family who I can always rely on.

I am so blessed, even on the darkest days.

There is so much that I want to do this year, so many expectations and hopes and dreams. But, unlike every other year of my life – I’m not going to beat myself up when I don’t perfectly stick to all of my resolutions or meet the goals I’ve set for myself. I know I’m going to fail, but I will continually remind myself that every set back is a set up for a come back.

So, whether 2016 means  a “New You” or consists of finding the real you. Remember that the past is the past, but your future is an adventure just waiting to happen – and guess what? It doesn’t care about what happened yesterday.

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Happy New Year!

-N.O.

Beauty & Acceptance

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In adolesence and teenage years we are constantly faced with the challenges of acceptance; whether it’s trying to change who you are in order to be accepted or being yourself and consequently not being accepted. We see this as early as elementary school, and it is truly traumatic for some kids.

Our culture’s beauty standards certainly don’t help. Boys and girls alike grow up seeing these images that aren’t real – and they think that is what they need to look like to be handsome or beautiful. It’s simply not true, that’s why I love this quote, “To be beautiful means to be yourself…”

Unfortunately it really doesn’t change as we grow into adults. We still strive to be accepted; whether it’s by friends, co-workers, that cute guy or girl across the street… How we are accepted and what we are accepted for changes, but the principle doesn’t.

Obviously some people truly seem to have this all figured out. They know their place in the world, they are confident in who they are and are content being around the people that simply genuinely care about them. I envy those people. I have no idea where my place in this world is. Part of me just wants to be accepted and loved by everyone, but that’s just not possible. I will continue to work towards simply loving myself, only then will people who respect me and care about me be drawn to me. Because its not rocket science that people with poor self esteem and/or bad body image are attracted to people who either share their struggle or take advantage of it.

So, cheers my friends. Here is to loving ourselves as we are. True beauty is amplified when we are happy and confident in our skin – just as we are.

💙 N.O.

Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

Hello again! It’s been a couple of months since I posted anything, and it’s been for good reason. A lot has happened this year; changes that have had me doubting God, myself, recovery and life in general. Be forewarned, this will be a long post, but it’s been a long time coming. Before I begin, I just want to thank everyone who has reached out to me (emails, phone calls, letters, cards, texts) and prayed for me during this time in my life. Your words and prayers are more appreciated than you may ever know.

So I’m just going to throw it out there – my relapse began months ago. Some people knew, others were oblivious. Although sometimes I doubt if my recovery was ever truly real, I question if my disorder has simply evolved throughout the years. Either way, it’s here – but I’m not denying it anymore. Addiction is a funny thing, especially when you’ve been through treatment and have pretty sound insight into why it takes hold of you the way it does. Earlier this year is when Bulimia shoved itself back into my life. In my journal the night after I threw up for the first time in nearly a year, I wrote that it “felt like coming home after being away for too long.” Self-harm made its appearance shortly after my eating disorder. While I can’t pinpoint an exact event that triggered my relapse, I know that it is mainly due to a buildup of shame I’ve held for a very long time that I’ve chosen not to deal with. As I’ve heard recently – traumatized children who don’t thoroughly and honestly deal with their pasts will grow into dysfunctional adults. Here I am, at 22, experiencing dysfunction in all of my relationships – especially with myself.

I can’t tell you exactly why I hit rock bottom, all I can tell you is that I did – and it happened on June 14, 2015. As I was sitting in the ER waiting room, completely alone after driving myself there – this is what I typed on my phone:

Sitting here in the ER, I can honestly say that I am at my lowest low I’ve been in a really long time. Rock bottom? Possibly. Panic attack. Cut wrist. How did I get here? At least I didn’t take the pills. But really, wouldn’t that have been better? Ugh.

That day, that weekend – I was ready to die. I didn’t attempt to kill myself, probably because I’ve been on the other end of the repercussions and heartbreak of someone leaving this world before they’re meant to, but I was ready. I don’t remember driving to the hospital, it’s all kind of a blur. But I know someone was looking out for me; despite my running away from Jesus, he has never left me.

I spent a week in a Behavioral Health Center after the ER staff deemed that I was a danger to myself – I couldn’t argue with that. That week was very eye-opening for me. My actions put my job, relationships, and overall livelihood at risk. I couldn’t be there again, I wouldn’t let myself get that low again. Although not yet fully committed to recovery, I knew that something had to change. I also finally understood that I really can’t do this alone, because doing recovery by myself for 8+ years obviously hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I gave my heart to Jesus that week in the hospital. Although it wasn’t the first time I’d prayed those words, it was the first time my heart was truly crying out to Him. I’m not perfect, and I certainly haven’t been 100% successful since I’ve been home – but more than ever before, I’m really trying.

Only a few people know of my experience, and honestly not many people noticed my absence that week – but those that did are the ones that matter. I keep trying to come up with some kind of way to answer people when they ask, “why?” It’s so difficult to explain because there is so much stigma around mental health, particularly when it comes to the point that people are suicidal or self-destructive. So in an attempt to help, I’m going to share something I wrote while in the hospital. It’s titled The Darkness, and it is far from my best work, and may not make a whole lot of sense, but I hope it will help others try to understand what people with any type of mental illness face everyday of their lives, particularly those who struggle with self-harm and/or an eating disorder. While this is particularly about cutting and bulimia, the idea of a complete lack of control is not unique. [Please note – I do not hear voices, but others do – I can’t speak for what they hear and what their experiences are.]

**Trigger Warning**

THE DARKNESS

He is sneaky, powerful, overwhelming

He tells me I am worthless

He creeps over me like a shadow

Until I am suffocated

He is Darkness

He puts the razor blade in my hand

He whispers in my ear…

                “It’s the only way”

He draws the blade across my skin

                “Deeper, deeper!” he yells

He says that the blood is all I need;

                Relief, sweet relief

The blood stops

He says that it’s not enough

                “You are never good enough”

He draws the blade across again

The scar will be beautiful

He tells me I will never be beautiful

But I will always have my scars

He is Darkness

He drags me to the bathroom

He throws me on the ground

He shoves his fingers down my throat

Until there’s no more food left inside of me

                “You’re too fat for food!” He screams

He tosses me on the scale

                  No matter the number, “You overweight pig”

Standing in front of the mirror

He points out every imperfection

He assures me that no one will ever love me

He is The Darkness that blinds me every single day…

But there is also light

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ –

He is the light.

He is wonderful, loving, and merciful

He tells me I am worthy of his grace

He comes over me like a sweet song

Until I am at peace

He gently takes the razor blade out of my hand

He sweetly tells me that I am loved

               “There is hope”

He stands me in front of the mirror

And says that He doesn’t make mistakes

He reminds me that I am saved

Nothing can separate me from him

He claims that he isn’t done with me yet

Tomorrow is a new day

He calls me his daughter

                Beautiful, rescued, redeemed

He sees my scars, both inside and out

And still calls me beautiful

My scars will remind me where I’ve been

And that He is not done with me yet

He is Light

He defeats The Darkness

working-on-myselfI owe Jesus Chris my life – many times over. I’m forever grateful to my family and friends who have continued to pray for me over the years. It’s going to take a long time to get my life wholly back on track, but I’m ready to fight for my life.

Humans are fallible, they will fail at some point in their lives. They will hurt others even if they have the best intentions. It’s become more clear to me that for most of my adult life I’ve tried to base my worth off of other’s opinions of me – particularly men. This is not uncommon, I see it play out everyday in the lives of my friends and so many others. Jesus is the only one who I can always rely on, He will never fail me. I need to find my God-given purpose in this life, I don’t need to find a person to fill that hole. One day I will meet a man who was placed on this Earth just for me, and when that happens I will be the kind of woman that a man after God’s own heart is searching for.

If you’ve made it this far – thanks for allowing me to share a little bit of my life with you. I will leave you with this verse, Ephesians 2: 8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” None of us deserve to be saved, that is what is so incredibly amazing about God’s grace. I certainly don’t deserve his grace anymore today than I did yesterday. But everyday I fall more in love with my Savior, and everyday I will strive to be the best I can be by living for Him, and expecting nothing else in return.

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-N.O.

Self-Hatred to Self-Love; 10 Tips to Love Your Body

Self-Hatred, something more intense and destructive than anyone who has never experienced it will ever understand. There’s a huge difference between someone who doesn’t like certain things about themselves and someone who hates every part of his/her body & being.

I have gone through most of my life hating myself. The reasons why I hated who I was are many, but shame is at the root. My shame evolved to a point where I absolutely despised my self, my soul… I dreaded looking in the  mirror every morning. Living life this way should hardly be considered living.

For many, self-hatred either begins with poor body image or the hatred becomes projected onto one’s body. Here are ten tips to learn to love your body; in conjunction with these, put a smile on your face and if you must – fake it ’till you make it. 😉

1. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.
2. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.
3. Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.
4. Count your blessings, not your flaws.
5. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
6. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body. Loving your body means you get to feel like that again, even in this body at this point in time.
7. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”beautiful
8. Search for the beauty in the world and in yourself.
9. Consider this – life is way too short to waste time hating yourself.
10. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired. Surround yourself with people who remind you of your own inner strength and beauty.

Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” ~Malcolm S. Forbes

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Tips chosen & paraphrased from NEDA’s “20 Ways to Love Your Body” Compiled by Margo Maine, PhD.