I’m nervous to tell you this. But I value honesty.

by Elizabeth on January 1, 2013

What better way to start out 2013 than with a really honest post? Today’s blog is on a topic that has had a huge impact on my life. It won’t be funny or witty and you may think very differently of me after reading it. I’m ok with that. It will help you understand a little bit more about where I’m coming from on a road to wellness. The reason I even started blogging was because I feel like I have learned life changing lessons on my journey and I’m hoping to help others who may be struggling. I plan on making 2013 the best year yet.

Many of you may already know this, some may not, but I began struggling with disordered eating in high school. It got worse in college, when I had a ton of freedom and little accountability. Add to the fact that I was a collegiate distance runner and there was a recipe for disaster. It seemed like the more weight I lost the faster and more successful my running was. Wrong. After peaking my junior year in cross country and qualifying for nationals, I couldn’t hang on during track and was constantly battling injuries and fatigue.

My disorder peaked in nursing school in 2009 when I was completely overwhelmed with anxiety and stress. I didn’t know how or have the time to learn to cope with stress in a healthy way so I used food an exercise as a way to handle my emotions. Although I was never severely underweight, my eating habits were far from “normal”. Looking back, all I really did was make a challenging situation exponentially more challenging… Add not fueling your brain and waking up at ungodly hours to exercise to a rigorous nursing curriculum and clinical hours and you. get. disaster. Emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Fast forward to the first year of our marriage. Although I was under a lot less stress since graduating nursing school, I was still living by the rules around food that had made me feel safe for so long. I was having trouble finding a nursing job at the time, so I began some seeing a therapist in my free time.

To our surprise on April 3, 2011, we found out we were expecting a baby! Along with the joy we felt, there were also the feelings of shock and anxiety. I told myself I could handle it. After all, what mother can’t do simple things like eat right and exercise moderately for her baby? I couldn’t. My mind was in a bad place and I was really struggling. I knew all the “control” I thought I had over my weight and body were pretty much going out the window and there was nothing I could do. Looking back I can see how selfish it was and I feel sad about that. When I didn’t gain weight the first trimester, something in me knew I couldn’t do it alone. I was very lost and very sick, but at my core I knew I loved this unborn child and my husband and ultimately myself enough to do something differently.

Joe and I flew to Denver, CO on June 28 so that I could begin my journey to a healthier life at a place called the Eating Recovery Center. I checked in the next day, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. Boy did I find out! The second day there I begged to come home. I bargained and pleaded and cried and screamed and even went so far as to pack my bags and walk out of there vowing never to come back. Through it all Joe and my family didn’t give up on me. I can’t thank them enough and I tear up just thinking about it. Remembering myself at that place really saddens me, and it also empowers me to keep moving forward and work harder each day to better myself. Not only for my family but for myself and ultimately for a God who created me to live, have, and be so much more.

I stayed at ERC until the end of August. Was it the hardest, most painful two months of my life? Yes. Would I do it again in a heartbeat for Noah or another baby if I had to. Absolutely. After coming home I began doing some intensive outpatient treatment in Houston at a place called the Sentido Center. It’s been life changing in more ways than I can begin to tell you and I still go there twice a week. I’ve learned what eating disorders (and most addictions and compulsive behaviors to be honest) are really about… the need for control, trauma that hasn’t been processed, not feeling seen or heard for who you really are, boundaries with yourself and others, a way that unexpressed emotions find their way out… just to name a few.

I am actually thankful for my eating disorder because it gave me a way to cope during hard times in my life when I didn’t know another way how. But it wasn’t serving me to continue to live in that way and I am learning how to do life differently. Am I perfect at it? Goodness NO. I don’t want to be, Am I growing? Yes. And that’s all we as humans can strive for, right?

One of the major things I have learned through this process is how to surrender. Why do I have the thought that I need to CONTROL everything in order for things to turn out ok? It’s not true! When I accept that something greater than me is at work in my life (and that His plan has ALWAYS proved to be more awesome than whatever I thought I needed/had planned for myself) things are so much easier! I don’t know about you but I like easy…

So anyway, this is getting lengthy and is really just a glimpse of the past few years. I can get really down on myself and feel like a terrible person for the struggles I’ve had but I know that EVERYONE has their strengths and weaknesses and we all go through tough stuff. Tough stuff builds character. Some things I really value though are honesty and living with an open heart, so by sharing this with you I feel that I am living out those values and not hiding it with shame and embarrassment (although I definitely have those, too.)

It’s always hard for me to publish this kind of personal information because even though I’m working on not caring what people think, I still do… a little bit. So here it goes 3. 2. 1. enter.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sheila richey January 1, 2013 at 10:41 am

Elizabeth,

I am so pleased to see you posting the tough part of your life journey thus far. God is preparring you for mighty big things. I hate to tell you this because it will freak you out…. You ready? Life gets even harder….

I am so very happy you went thru this and have come out on the other side. While you were in that personal hell God was making your roots stronger and your branches even more unbreakable. That’s what that storm was all about. He was preparring you to be a amazingly strong mother, wife, sister, friend, employee and niece when you would find the ones you love weak.

Thats what life really comes down to is growth and love. Without those two important ingedients we would be doa…..

Watching your tree blow over and at times almost bent half way over with the rough weather you were going thru, reminds this Aunt LaLa how blessed I am to witness the ones I love GROW.
You are not the only one, but ONE of us that is thriving, striving and growing in God’s grace. I am so proud to see your roots planting more solid in the soil. Thats very exciting stuff.

I love you…..

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2 Elizabeth January 1, 2013 at 10:47 am

I have had very good examples that supported me through it. I wouldn’t have made it otherwise :-) Love you too.

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3 Cristina Schulman January 1, 2013 at 10:43 am

I admire your stregnth! Id actually like to talk to u more about this. Love u.

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4 Elizabeth January 1, 2013 at 10:48 am

Yes please! I miss our walks!

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5 Mary Barnhart January 1, 2013 at 10:56 am

From Nana – what a beautiful letter and words to start 2013. I love you and my Joseph and Noah. I am proud of you. Love, Nana

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6 Mary Barnhart January 1, 2013 at 11:08 am

Happy new year Elizabeth! What honest and yet difficult words you have written. This was the first holiday in many years that I was sober and present in my children’s and family’s celebrations. It is but by the grace of God that we are given second chances and have the love and support of a beautiful family and awesome God. We are not perfect and it is through our brokenness and surrender that we allow God to put us back together in His way (which you are right – it is always better). You have helped me a lot in what you wrote – know you are not alone or the only one that struggles to find their true inner self and purpose for their life. Just for today, I am allowing God to do this for me! I love you, Aunt Patty

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7 sheila richey January 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

This made me cry…. I love it, Patty!!! I’m rooting for you too. I love all this strength and growth coming out of this blog and FAMILY :-)))))

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8 Elizabeth January 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I am SO SO proud of you and very inspired by your progress Aunt Patty! Your kids are lucky to have such a dedicated mom who never gives up.

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9 torontorunner January 1, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Happy New Year love :)

I just wanted you to know I read every single word, and you are very very inspiring. I can imagine it is not easy in the slightest to be so honest and bare yourself like this. I hope for continued health, success and lots of love in the new year for you and your family!

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10 Shana Clancy January 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I love your honesty, yet upbeat attitude about all of it, it’s a tough journey back, God know I know what that’s like. You are very inspirational, have a great way with words and will be a great example to anyone that something to overcome, which is just about everyone :-)
Love ya
Shana

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11 Elizabeth January 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Love you too Shana! I can’t wait until we can chat about how we are on the other side of this :-)

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12 Joe Sauvageau January 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm

First of all I am proud of your bravery and honesty. Hopefully all of the people reading this blog will keep our family in their prayers. The more prayers the better! I know your friends and family will always support you any way they can.

While you were in Denver the song “Blessings” by Laura Story brought me to tears in my truck some nights coming home from work. Life seemed unfair and helpless, and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. In those lonely moments of dispair, God always seemed to speak to my heart through those lyrics just when I needed them most. “What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.” This process has certainly brought some trials, but God’s mercy heals our wounded hearts.

You have made so much progress in your recovery, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Noah and I are blessed to have you in our lives, Elizabeth. I love being married to you, and Noah tells me he couldn’t have chosen a better mother :)

Together, we will work through the trials and wipe away the tears. “Let it bring us to our knees” as we pray for God’s mercy. We will continue to strengthen our marriage and our relationship with God through your recovery process. For that, I am thankful.

I love you until forever ends, Elizabeth.

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13 sheila richey January 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

“I love you until forever ends….”

Ok, wipping the tears now! I do not believe the love stops at forever though. My love is still complete for your Uncle Richey – it has just transended for me to a new space and place. It’s still there though. If I could have packed it up and removed it – I certainly would have but thats not the reality of true love. While death comes for one mate the other is left holding it all. It’s a truly overwhelming experience that I was not prepared for, by the total grace of Jesus I am learning to live in the lessons I’ve learned and the new life I have. It’s really quite extraordinary….. and I am FINALLY at peace :-))))

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14 fromicecreamtomarathonk January 2, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Thank you so much for sharing that, Elizabeth. I know that wasn’t easy for you. I can’t even imagine all you’ve been through! I just pray this will be the best year ever for you and your family, that you keep getting stronger and healthier. You can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens you!!
(What an amazing husband you have, I started bawling when I read his comment!)
fromicecreamtomarathonk recently posted…VIrtual Half Marathon PR while juice fasting!My Profile

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15 Elizabeth January 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Thank you for the encouragement! He is wonderful, I don’t know what I’d do without him :-)

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16 Brooke January 2, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I don’t even know where to start… All I know is I’m SUPER proud of you for many reasons! One being to have the courage to put this out there… I know it was hard for you but as you can see everyone is glad you did and here to support you all the way… Especially me! :-) And like we have always said… No one is perfect…perfect is boring anyways! :-) I am also so proud of you for going to Colorado I know you hated every second of it! I remember being so worried for you and just wanting you to be home and happy but you hung in there and I am so proud of that! And I know Noah is even more proud of you! He has a wonderful mom and he wants you to be happy too! This battle is going to be a long one but I know you are ready to show it who is boss! You already have and I am also proud of that! Love you!

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17 Elizabeth January 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Thanks B! What would I do without you? :-) Look how far we’ve come…

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18 Alex @ the run within January 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. Like you, I went inpatient my junior year in college. It saved me, I was blessed to have the opportunity to finally find out why I wanted and needed to recover. I can see all the hard work you have done for your family. It is something to really be proud of .
Alex @ the run within recently posted…Jam on Your WednesdayMy Profile

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19 Elizabeth January 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm

It takes HUGE strength to not only go inpatient but then to be able to talk about it openly. It’s definitely not easy when the whole world knows what your struggles are . Thanks for sharing with me Alex, it helps me remember I’m never alone :-)

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20 Mallory @ ifgravityhappens January 3, 2013 at 7:42 am

I just found your blog but this post touched me in so many ways! As I struggle to get pregnant and battle infertility because of my disordered eating/weight loss/running habits, I often feel cursed but your outlook made me look at the other side. If I wouldn’t be going through what I am, I would be struggling as a pregnant mom-to-be…either way, there’s struggle and it’s good to know other people have overcome it :) Proud of you for getting over your mountain! You are the greatest mom ever because of it!!!!
Mallory @ ifgravityhappens recently posted…Getting my fitness back onMy Profile

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21 Elizabeth January 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

Mallory! Thanks so much for your comment. I can tell you are a strong person, it takes strength to even be able to admit you are struggling! You CAN do it! One thing that always helps me is remembering… 10 years from now it won’t matter if I weighed x or looked a certain way. It WILL matter if I regret what I did and have no children and feel really sad about that. I hope maybe a different perspective helps. Sending you lots of love and hope today!

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22 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast January 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I am in awe of your courage and story, thank you so much for sharing! It’s so beautifully written, and with such wisdom and perspective. You are so right that we all have our challenges, whatever they may be, and I always appreciate honest posts like this where we can learn from and support each other.
And yay for a fellow Houston-ite! Maybe I’ll bump into you sometime?
Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…New Year’s WIAW + Avocado Tuna SaladMy Profile

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23 Elizabeth January 3, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Thank you. I would love that! We could meet up for lunch or a run sometime?

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24 Sarah January 4, 2013 at 11:51 am

I am obviously a few days behind :) but I just want to applaud Elizabeth! You are such an amazing women, mother, sister and friend! Hopefully your honesty and journey will continue to help others because it always helps to know you are not alone. I love that you will never give up and continue to grow and prosper each day. You and Joe have such a special bond it is apparent that you both have a huge love for one another. I love that you have shared your story and keep up the great work!

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25 Jennifer January 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

Elizabeth, I too am obviously a few days late, but I wanted to say thank you *SO MUCH* for this post (and all of your posts, but especially this one!). Girl, you are so brave and courageous and you give so many of us strength! Thank you so much for sharing your story, and I hope this note finds you well! You rock!

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26 Elizabeth January 8, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Thanks for the comment Jennifer! It really means a lot to me! I think we as women need to stick together and help each other out… and not take society’s crap haha!

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27 Whitney January 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I am a new reader to your blog and I just thought I would say hello. Your journey is incrediable and I think you are such a strong woman. I value your ability to change and to do so for your child, yourself, and your family. Although I don’t know you and haven’t been reading long, I really respect your stregnth and passion for life. God bless you and congratulations on your journey. I know that you will continue to live abundantly in your life! :)

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28 Elizabeth January 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Whitney I’m so happy to have you!!! Thanks for taking the time to leave me your thoughts! God bless you too :-)

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29 Rachel Rinderknecht February 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Thank you for this post! It is so comforting to know that we as human beings are not alone in the struggles that we go through. :)

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30 Keels March 11, 2013 at 6:41 pm

You are very brave, and I am sure you are giving others strength. I hope one day my sis can truly open up to me again and share more of herself (if and when she is ready). Thanks your your insightful blog!

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31 Elizabeth @ livingrunningcooking.com March 20, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Stopping by your blog for the first time. Thank you so much for the honestly. I can’t imagine the strength it takes to share your story.

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32 Jenylyn March 25, 2013 at 7:28 am

Hey girl it has been a long time since we’ve talked. I am just now reading this and I have been following you on your blog, you inspire me and give me hope that one day I to can have what you have and recovery is what I want. I am so proud of you and love seeing and hearing from you, keep on with having faith and sharing, love you and miss you!

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33 Tayler August 4, 2013 at 2:15 am

This is quite a remarkable post. Thank you for your honesty and the motivation it inspires. You’re true to your values, and that’s refreshing.

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34 Amy December 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm

New reader here – this is the first post I’ve read and I am hooked. You’re raw honesty is incredibly inspiring and you should be incredibly proud of yourself. I will definitely continue reading and can’t wait to see what the new year brings. Happy running!

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