One of my bigger new year's resolutions was to write a little bit of a 'testimony' of sorts. What I've been through, what I've had to go through in order to be the person I am at this point of my life. To show people I wasn't born into the life I'm living by any means, and that I had many struggles, but it's how I used them that makes them worth telling.
Just so you aren't completely lost, 'she' is usually referring to my anorexia. It's like a whole other part of my brain. It's not part of my personality by ANY means. I am not my disease. She is a whole other person that took control of me, and I will not refer to her as myself.
I can't pinpoint the exact date that she manifested herself into my mind, she was so discreet. She slipped through without me noticing and came to power so gradually. Perhaps it was in 4th grade after being teased relentlessly, or maybe it was 5th grade when my own mother told me that I needed to start watching my weight and stop eating so much. I also don't know when I started to feel beautiful. Maybe it was the day I started throwing up my food, or maybe it was the day I stopped eating.As a child I was oblivious to the thought that these insecurities might grow into something so dangerous but at the same time so safe to me.
I want to start my story at 4th grade, because it's the earliest memory I have of being self aware. I had always been a short girl, and while everyone else seemed to tower above me year by year and drop their baby fat, I seemed to be stuck in time. I was devastated. My peers seemed to pick up on my insecurity, almost as if they could smell my fear of being different and they fed off of my unhappiness and distress. That's when they began to taunt me. I remember recess was the last activity of the day, and I dreaded it. Recess was hell on earth for me and there was no escape. There were several days that I would come home in tears, and my mom began pressuring the teachers to do something. Her efforts were fruitless. By the end of 5th grade I had isolated myself completely. I cut off every connection and kept myself locked in my room. This was the time she chose to reveal herself and strike a blow. I began self destructive behavior, sometimes to punish myself for being so undesirable and so unlovable, sometimes to take my mind off of the pain my path of life was causing. As time went on, about 6th or 7th grade, I was hospitalized for attempted suicide. Not only was I put through multiple painful tests and treatments at the hospital, but I was hauled off to the crazy bin. I was alone for a week. I rarely spoke, I didn't eat one bite (I lived on cranberry cocktail juice boxes they provided) and worst of all I didn't get any better. I lied between my teeth every time they asked "So how are you today?" or "Are you going to do anything like this again?" Other 'inmates' as we called ourselves told me that the only way you would ever escape the asylum was acting as if you were magically cured. So I did. Apparently I was so convincing they let me out by the next week. Although, I was far from cured. I drastically decreased in mental health. I began to experiment with bulimia with the promise of being skinny and beautiful, to be wanted. I would binge and purge often for a while then stop completely onlyto resume this. It seemed logical, if I ate the food it would satisfy my hunger, and then if I got rid of it before my body digested it I wouldn't get fat. But I definitely did not know my facts. Bulimia was my safety, it made me feel beautiful and more importantly for me, self worth. I've had pretty bad abandonment issues. First my father, who travels often and is almost never present for anything in my life, and then friends. I was used frequently by people, and I settled for that because I thought that being used by people was the best I could obtain. By the end of this part of my life my self worth was so low, I settled for anything even if it was obviously mediocre out of fear that I wouldn't be able to ever have anything better. That's when I realized I could obtain the things I envied, if I became beautiful. I started off restricting, carefully cutting out certain foods in my diet and my confidence grew before my eyes. I began talking to people again, and befriended people. Years went by, and as my confidence grew I thought "If this is what cutting out food and skipping breakfast can do, I wonder what skipping lunch and breakfast would do.." So I started giving away my lunch everyday. Sometimes, if I was feeling particularly good, I would skip dinner. I told lies every day, and everyday no one saw through my games. I knew all the right words, "I don't feel well.." or "I ate before I came." My friends never caught on, but my mom would threaten to send me back to the hospital at times. I knew she really didn't have a clue, and she was definitely bluffing. The weight slowly fell off, and it seemed like the only thing that kept me going were the "Oh my gosh Avary, you look so beautiful!" or "Wow, you look great!" But as they dwindled I started to wonder if I needed to do more. I started exercizing. Now, exercizing is healthy..but not to the extreme I took it to. I had less than 500 calories in my system, and I made it a goal to burn twice the number of calories I consumed a day. I would run, run, and run until I got so dizzy I had to hold onto the bar to keep my balance. Then I would take maybe a 2 minute break to regain my sense of balance and head to the stairmaster. As the days went on with my ruthless exercize schedule, I also started to restrict more heavily. I would eat at the most 300 calories a day, and burn about 1,000. Sometimes the hunger became too much for me, and I would have to binge..but my mind would let out high pitched screams of "YOU PIG!" "NO WONDER YOUR FAMILY OINKS WHEN THEY SEE YOU!" "YOU ARE SUCH AN IGNORANT IDIOT!" "FATTY!" "NOW WONDER GUYS CAN'T EVEN LOOK OR TALK TO YOU! ALL THEY SEE IS YOUR FAT ROLLS!" and the only way to silence them would be to run up the stairs and shove my finger down my throat. I would throw up everything, I would just keep throwing up until I couldn't anymore. To avoid these situations and to keep my hunger pains under control I would chew on raw cinnamon sticks, and let me tell you, those things BURN your tongue. I would chew about 3 of those a day to keep the hunger at bay, and now I suffer from 'geographical tongue'(when some of your tastebuds look as if they have been 'burnt' off of your tongue to form miscolored spots on your tongue that look as if it's a continent on a map..hence geographical) because of this habit. As summer came, it was worse than ever. I had been tormented by a guy for a month before school ended, and I just wished I could forget about everything. I was convinced it was because I was so undesirably heavyset. So it got to the point where I would compete with my body to only consume 200 calories a day and keep my workout regimen. As I landed a job at the food court in target, my bulimic ways worsened. I was tempted beyond belief working with food all day for 8 hours at a time. I thought I was going to go insane. I would constantly run to the back and do jumping jacks until I heard a customer, because I had broken down and munched on a pepperoni and I was terrified to purge in a public bathroom. Bulimia hit hard, and sometimes I would throw up so much I saw blood. Sadly, this didn't scare me enough. I knew my body was shutting down, but my thought process was now 'What use is a body if it's so incredibly ugly and undesirable?" I was no longer myself. I didn't laugh, I didn't smile, I was so disappointed in everything about myself. Not only was I dissing myself, but I dealt with a lot of emotional abuse from my parents. My father never recognizes anyone's accomplishments (except for my brother) and yells if you fail. My father also brings out the WORST in my mother. When he's not around, she is kind and caring, but when he is around she continually puts everyone down with stinging comments.
At this point I had isolated myself again, I hadn't seen anyone over the summer-save for the occasional target encounter- and I had no one I could talk to. I didn't know what love was, because everyone that said that word referring to me had abandoned me. Then I came to Elevate Life Church (or Celebration Covenant Church as it was called at the time) I was definitely at the bottom of the hole I had dug myself into. I had no hope, no happiness, and still no beauty as far as I was concerned. The first time I attended XCEL, I remember Trey started talking about self worth, and God's love for us. I knew at that moment that God had brought me there for a reason. He wanted to halt my suffering, He wanted me to realize how beautiful I truly was, and see that I was worth so much more than I was amounting myself to. He wanted to show me his unfailing love, which was so completely unfathomable to me. God wanted me to be happy. I remember that night after I got home I sat in front of the mirror and just cried. I waited until I was alone, still not ready to let me guard down. Gradually as I kept returning to XCEL, I started to increase my calorie intake. I wasn't so incredibly terrified of gaining weight anymore, because I knew no matter how ugly I might look in my eyes, I was beautiful in God's eyes and that's all that mattered. Everytime I got the feeling that I needed to puke I would read proverbs or psalms until that feeling subsided.
I still to this day find myself in a battle constantly, and although I falter at times, all is definitely not lost for me. I plan to attend university and get a psychology degree, so I can help girls who feel unloved and lonely just like I did. I want to notice the signs and behaviors before it’s too late for other girls. I want to change lives the way mine was. I want to save girls and guys from the ways I was thinking.
In this new year, I started it by throwing every single trigger that I had kept in my room in the trash. Every magazine cut out of what I aspired to be, every piece of paper that gave me 'thinspiration', every influence that could cause me to fall again is now destroyed. Every day I thank God for this second chance, because at the rate I was going, I could have died easily from complications due to my bulimia (as I noted earlier, I was throwing up to the point of blood and that is a dangerous sign) I now have the energy, the encouragement, and the love to keep me going towards my goals recover fully, and to change the world and change people's lives.
Thank you, everyone that has been there to help me through, then AND now. I'm not going to name everyone, because it's basically everyone from my family of choice, but ya'll know who you are :) I LOVE YA'LL!