“Promise me that you will share your pain”
Those 8 little words pushed me to do that scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life: share my deepest pain, the most shameful part of me and my darkest secret.
Had those words been spoken to me even just a couple years before, I never would have been in a place to make that promise because what I was trapped in, what I was doing behind closed doors, was something I swore to myself I would never admit to anyone… not even my own husband.
I battled a serious eating disorder for almost 10 years.
“Eating disorder.” I like those words much better than the actual word that describes my struggle which is “bulimia.” To me, bulimia always felt like the most shameful of all the eating disorders and I was determined to never let that word define me. I was going to do everything in my power, not to get caught.
Not getting caught meant that I poured all of my energy into seeming completely confident and fine on the outside. It meant that I became a master manipulator, a food thief and a person who would routinely find ways to isolate myself so that I could binge without anyone knowing.
On the outside, my life looked great! But on the inside, I was a mess.
“How disgusting! What is wrong with you?!”
“Why can’t you just get it together?!”
“You seriously have no self-control!”
“You are an embarrassment to yourself!”
“If anyone ever finds this out about you, it will be the end of all things good in your life!”
Negative thoughts constantly flowed through my mind as I began to be pulled deeper and deeper into what felt like a compulsive addiction that had total control over me.
At first, I was in denial about the severity of my issue… but as time went on, I soon saw how serious my problem really was. At my worst, I was binging and purging 12-15 times a day and I soon believed this was a battle I was never going to win.
If you understand nothing else about my story, please, just understand this: I believed with every part of me that there was no hope for me. However, I’m standing here today in complete disbelief that even when I couldn’t see it for myself, there WAS hope for me! I did find healing!
I want you to know that no matter how alone, misunderstood or ashamed you might feel in WHATEVER it is you’re going through… there is ALWAYS hope and healing to be found and I believe the BEST way to find healing is by sharing your pain.
You must share your pain with someone because pushing it down and pretending like it doesn’t exist is actually paralyzing you in ways you don’t even realize! Your unshared pain and shame is holding you back from everything you were made to be. It’s not going to be easy, but if you will be brave enough to open up, trust the process and share the parts of you that are hard to admit or hard to talk about, you will finally be giving yourself permission to love YOU! ALL of you! The good WITH the bad! You will finally be able to see that your imperfections do not disqualify you from ANYTHING! They actually make you MORE qualified because the most beautiful people, the most respected and the most admired are the ones who have been through hardship and come out of it not as a victim, but as a victor, ready to lead others to the same freedom and healing that they’ve experienced.
This is a truth I didn’t believe applied to MY ISSUE. MY ISSUE was too out of control. MY ISSUE was too shameful. MY ISSUE was probably going to kill me and I was working to be okay with that, because to me, it would have been better to die without the bulimia label attached to my name, then to live with everyone knowing how imperfect I really was.
I know what it feels like to believe there is no hope for you. I know what it feels like to be trapped in something so shameful, you find yourself playing out scenarios in your head about what it would take for you to admit your problem to someone. I played out scenarios all the time but COULD NOT THINK OF A SINGLE ONE where I would openly admit to my struggle with bulimia. I used to think to myself, “What if you were on your deathbed? THEN would you be able to tell your husband or your daughter the truth?” My answer to that question EVERY TIME was “Hell No!”
Eventually and miraculously, I overcame my battle through years of self-therapy (which is incredible all on its own). However, even after feeling like I finally had control of my issue, I had never admitted my struggle to a single person! Initially, I felt like this was a huge victory! Not only had I overcome my problem… no one knew! I felt more relieved I had never been caught than I was relieved to have stopped. “I can finally take this secret to the grave for sure!” I thought.
What I slowly started to realize though, is that my secret was eating away at me. I knew I needed to uncover my shame. I knew I needed to share my pain if I was going to loosen the debilitating grip my secret had on my life. I also knew that finally opening up would be the best way to guarantee I never fell back into an eating disorder.
So… I did it! I was TERRIFIED, but I did it! I told the world the one thing I never wanted anyone to know about me and you know what, it was the most healing, empowering and freeing thing I have ever experienced. (Listen to the first time I shared my story publicly here: https://tinyurl.com/ycgy7w7s)
While I hope my story can help prevent eating disorders and let anyone struggling with one to realize they are not alone, there is one key lesson I think EVERYONE can take away and that’s this: THERE IS POWER IN UNCOVERING YOUR PAIN AND SHAME! Whatever it looks like in your life!
Sharing your story and owning ALL of your truth, the good with the bad, it is not only healing to you, it’s healing to those who hear it! Bravely sharing your story gives other people permission to share their own.