Two years ago, on the eve of my twenty-fifth birthday, I managed the fragile strength to stand up.
The toilet bowl, in its innocent sinfulness, stands before me as I am seated – full of shame, guilt, and self-hatred – on the bathroom floor. I catch a glimpse of myself in its porcelain body. Vacant, defeated eyes stare back and I am numb. My stomach is tender, my esophagus, burning, and my knuckles, red. I binged and purged…again. Emptiness and depression swallow me up in the tiny bathroom and I become conscious of a profound hatred for myself. I never wanted to binge and purge. There seemed to be a disconnect between who I was and who I had become. I felt powerless and out of control.
Last time was supposed to be the last time. Where is your strength?
In complete defeat, I struggle to recognize the girl on the bathroom floor. I weep instinctively, flush the toilet, and stand to confront the mirror. The tears blur the image slightly but there is no mistaking the pain, brokenness, and fear that reflects back. I fat shame. I spout blame and anger. I hold my breath. I close my eyes. It’s no use, though; the person in the mirror is just as flawed, weak, and hopeless when I open them again. I suppress a sob, twist my face in disgust, turn away, and sit back down on the floor.
It’s too much…you’re too much. What happened to you?
The silence in the bathroom resounds and there is defined stillness. The darkness, unrelenting and debilitating, dissipates for an instant and the reality of the dark, gritty, and wearisome three year struggle with bulimia manifests itself. Behind my piercing gaze, a fear builds and threatens to infinitely hold me prisoner to the cycle of that bathroom floor, as I am forced to acknowledge the heavy burden of a silent struggle. Alone, ashamed, and unrecognizable, I want it to end. Tears of pain mix with tears of defeat and my impending birthday stirs something soul deep.
You cannot survive this for another twenty-five years. Who will you be?
With doubt weighing heavily,
With darkness threatening to steal my light,
With recovery seeming elusive,
With shame and guilt diminishing my confidence,
With fragile hope, resilient strength, and sacred promise,
I stand up.
Being honest meant standing. Standing meant living. Living meant loving - and deciding to love - and it is the most radical thing I have ever stood for.
And it’s possible that this could be a lifelong struggle that may shrink but never fade completely in this life. I’m learning that waiting takes longer than I would like and that waiting for something is more difficult when you have no idea when or if it [healing] will arrive. But, I am choosing to open myself up to the reality of the struggle of the healing process, and be honest about where I am instead of hiding in isolation.
And, if shattering the façade means opening old wounds, hurting, relinquishing control, and feeling uncomfortable so that someone else is freed from their own silent struggle, then let it be so.
When you see someone remembering even when they want to forget,
When you see someone showing vulnerability even when they want to hide,
When you see someone learning who they are even when they bear a painful past,
When you see someone sharing their story even if it means sacrifice and grief.
When you see someone standing on two,
That will be me.
-Written by a beloved child of God who is a part of the RISE movement.