This post was originally published on my initial blog on February 9, 2015. I am in the process of migrating my content from Blogger and appreciate the patience as I do so!
Yikes. I just took an emotional trip down memory lane. Like a “pack your bags and bring your camera” kind of vacay. Just 30 minutes ago, I was nominated for the #20beautifulwomen challenge on Instagram. Now, I’d been wondering if this might happen, but like many social media trends, I figured it might not come my way before fizzling out. This time, I was wrong and I got a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach.
A photo where I felt the most beautiful. Umm…how about never.
While that is a slight exaggeration, it’s no lie to say that I’ve never felt beyond average. And while I didn’t have particular disdain for my body before my battle with anorexia, I didn’t love it then and I don’t love it now. So what’s a girl to do when faced with such a question: What’s a picture that makes you feel beautiful? (RELATED: Beauty is Distinct
My body-image is akin to a game of Chutes and Ladders
: It can go from good to hopelessly-awful in a roll of the dice or a matter of seconds. Sure, I avoid mirrors but it’s impossible to avoid the thoughts swirling around in my head and the images and people that my eyes take in daily. It’s a constant battle to not give up right now and retreat back to the hellish habits of the past four years. (RELATED: Small Tweaks for a Big Slap to E.D
So I started looking through old photos of myself in Facebook. I cringed through the recent ones, ones I’ve cried over and wanted to erase from existence. Then, I braced myself for the ones that came before those, the pictures taken in the brief period where I was at a healthy weight. Those are the ones that have haunted me as of late. That’s the body I’m moving towards and to be frank: I’ve though it is absolutely ugly. It’s the end result that I’ve been working toward but trying to ignore at the same time. This time: it was a little different.
I scrolled through the pictures of my trip to Colorado, graduation, prom. I remember the feelings associated with most of them: “chubby,” “fat,” “ugly” and “average” – at best. I don’t know if the memories behind those photos will ever be erased but I do know that there is less self-hatred than there was a few months ago. As I looked at the pictures, there were a select few that I could deal with and, maybe, like. And I saw the pictures of cross country and track and a smile that also took up my whole face. I saw a joyful exuberance that I want back. I saw a girl who didn’t give a crap about how her stomach looked or how her appearance compared to the world around her. I saw a runner who was more concerned with her times than her competitors’ body size.
And I cried.
I cried for all the memories that have been tainted with anorexia, all the moments I’ve hated myself and given up on my future, all the dreams that I’ve put on hold to get my life back. It’s no easy journey and sometimes I sink into the pit of despair, wondering if I’ll ever really feel free again. Yet, I’m knocking down my walls brick by brick and tonight is no exception. (RELATED: Let’s Talk About Eating Disorders)
I’ve shed tears over all that anorexia has taken from me but I also shed tears of joy, tonight, as I saw a short period in my past that I can magnify into my future. There is a Hannah who is strong and capable. She is fast and determined. She is compassionate and joyful and creative. Seeing beauty on the outside is going to take a long time, and while scientists estimate that time to be about two years, I’m holding out for breakthroughs like this that make the journey bearable. They remind me that there is a girl inside of me who is boundlessly hopeful and radiant with joy. (RELATED: It is Well With My Soul)
This post goes out to that girl. By God’s grace alone: She’s coming back.