Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
Y’all, this post has been a long time coming. It’s something I’ve written over and over in my head, and then put off writing. I’m putting myself out there in a completely different way with this post, and it’s scary. But it’s also necessary. I am sharing this with you because I want you to know that I get it. We all have things that we struggle with – maybe some of them are the same type of things, and maybe they’re different, but at the end of the day, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. We’re in this together. THIS is why I became a holistic nutrition consultant. I want to empower others to live their best, healthiest lives. So much of how we feel is tied to what we eat, but it’s more than just proper nutrition. It’s also our deepest (sometimes darkest) feelings – how we feel about ourselves, our bodies, our lives. It’s all tied together, and we have to work on all of it in order to live vibrant, healthy lives.
I’m going to just put it out there: I don’t like my body. It’s not so much how my body looks, although that is a factor. I mean, we all have things we don’t like about our appearance. For me, it’s that this body has been through a lot. It has been violated, and it has betrayed me, and I often don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I’m putting it out there because I know there are others who feel the same way. I’m putting it out there because I don’t want to carry it anymore. I’m shining some light on those dark places, so that I can find my own freedom. And maybe my story will help you find freedom in yours.
This may be a trigger for some, so continue reading at your own discretion.
There’s no real way to sugar coat this, so I’m just going to say it: I was raped when I was 19. This is not the appropriate place for sharing details, but know that if you are a friend or family member and have questions, I will answer them one-on-one with you. I spent many, many years not talking about this, but realized a few years ago that bringing it out into the light was the only way to not let shame consume me. No, I should not feel shame about something I couldn’t control, but it’s a common emotion for survivors. I’ve learned to talk about it (not often, but when appropriate) because I know it’s the only way for me to be free, and hopefully it can help someone else. My body was violated in an unspeakable 10 minute act. In an instant, my body was no longer mine. My feelings about my body have never been the same. This moment, while not always at the forefront of my consciousness, has colored the way I view myself and my body. When I couple that with various health issues over the years, I get the perfect storm of dislike for, and emotional detachment from, my body.
My body was violated, and I had no control. My body got sick, and I had no control. I see my body as weak and gross most of the time. The best word I can use to describe this is that all of these things were a betrayal. It feels as though my body has betrayed me. Because I can’t control my body, I’ve spent a lot of time in my life trying to control everything else. I plan (over-plan) everything, and don’t rest until I have all the details lined out. I have a wall up, and it takes me a long time to let people in. I can’t risk not being able to control my emotions, and opening up is risky. Trust is a hard thing to earn with me. When I feel really out of control, I go on strict detoxes and food plans because I can control what I eat. I don’t exercise very regularly because I feel like my body is weak, so why even bother. I am mentally strong until it comes to my body, and then it’s anyone’s guess depending on the day. I am very physically in tune with what’s going on with my body, but when it comes to the emotional side of loving, caring for, and appreciating my body, there’s a real disconnect. Sigh. I get that to some of you this sounds like crazy talk, and for others, you’re nodding your head in agreement because you know what I’m talking about.
A few months ago, everything reached a boiling a point. All of these strategies I’ve had in place for years to control my environment started to feel terribly unnatural. They ARE unnatural for the record. They are not healthy or normal. And those strict detoxes and food plans I mentioned? For me, right now, they are disordered eating – fueling an unhealthy need to control. Everything was (and still is) out of balance in my life, and I knew it.
I started this study of Deuteronomy back in October, and it ultimately became a turning point for me. This one verse was stuck in my head, and I’ve literally thought about this verse every day since October.
“You have stayed long enough at this mountain.” Deuteronomy 1:6.
To put this into context, the Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years at this point. They were waiting to get to move on into the Promised Land, and had set up their camp at Mount Horeb. The Israelites were just basically waiting around for the next thing. In verse 1:21, it says, “Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Now, there’s a lot more that happens before they go into the Promised Land, and they will have to fight for what they want, but they are being told that it’s time to move. They need to pack up, and take action in order to take possession of what God has for them. They can no longer just wait around and wander the desert. It says in verse 30, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you.” God is with them, and he’ll fight for them, but they have to fight for themselves, too. They have to take action for themselves, so God can take action on their behalf.
So back to just a couple months ago when everything started feeling out of balance for me. This holistic approach I take in helping my clients was sorely lacking in my own life. I knew this to be true, but kept just plugging along. Then just a few weekends ago, I had this new health issue pop up, and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I sat in tears for a whole day – not from the physical pain I was in, but because it all just became too much. It felt like my body was giving me the finger, and I hit my limit. Then once again these verses came to my mind. I’ve been here long enough. I have been sitting at this mountain of hating my body and health issues and feeling sorry for myself and trying to control everything for far too long. There is so much more waiting for me in my own Promised Land, and it’s time for me to get up, get moving and take possession of it. There are all these emotions that have to be dealt with, and I have to find balance and acceptance with my body. No more letting one moment define how I feel about my body. No more waiting around for the next bad health shoe to fall, and no more negative self-talk. Until I find that peace for myself, everything is going to stay out of balance, and I’m just not willing to wander around in my own mental desert anymore. The Israelites had to take action for themselves, and I know that I do, too. I have to take some major steps for myself, so that God can work, too.
Since you know that I like to put everything out there (um, not so much), I’m going to share some of the things that I’m going to be working on. Some of these are specific actions and some of these are just truths I need to start telling myself. It’s time to reframe the conversation I have with myself. I’m sharing because it will be harder to slip back into old habits because it’s all out in the open, and maybe this can be a starting point for someone else.
- My assault and illnesses do NOT translate to my body being weak. Illness is a sign that things are out of balance, not a weakness in any way. In fact, my body has gotten me through a lot. I am a survivor on multiple levels, and that tells me my body is strong.
- My body is strong, and I can make it stronger by exercising regularly. I’m going to find a routine that works for me, and will try to get moving every hour during the work day, take some long walks, do some hiking and dance around the house more often.
- Accept that health issues happen, and it’s a sign that my body needs proper nutrition, and better care in general. Every time I eat is an opportunity to nourish my body or deplete it, and I’m going to choose to nourish it. I may get frustrated at having to avoid certain foods, but in the end, it’s worth it to feel better and get my body in balance. Also, those strict food plans and detoxes aren’t working for me, so it’s time to give those up. There’s a time and a place for them, but they are too imbalanced for my body right now, and it’s not a healthy form of control for me personally. (read: I’m not knocking detoxes and food plans. They can absolutely be a healthy approach, and bring healing to the body. I just personally have to be extra careful right now, and make sure I’m doing things for the right reasons.)
- I’m going to stop the negative talk about my body. Instead of focusing on all the things I’m not happy about, I will focus on the things I do like. Top of the list: my body has survived thus far, and I’m so grateful for that. Side note: If you catch me complaining, call me out on it.
- Accept my body where it’s at right now. It is what it is today. Hopefully, these positive actions lead to better days with each tomorrow. I also don’t want to waste time wishing for something different or waiting to feel better. I want to take each day for what it is, and make the most of it.
- Relinquish control. I know that it’s time to let go a bit (a lot) – to stop trying to make everything around me fit into my plan. I need to be willing to be uncomfortable for the sake of my own mental health, and for the sake of those around me.
- Be vulnerable. This is something I honestly don’t know how to do very well. I don’t like it, and it doesn’t happen often, but I will work on opening myself up to others and the world around me. My guess is that I’m probably missing out on some pretty great people and experiences while I hide out behind this wall of mine.
- Give myself some grace. Remember that not every day will be perfect, and that’s okay.
I’m not expecting everything to be easy, and I don’t think any of this is a quick fix. I have to retrain my mind to love my body. I’m trusting that God is leading me to a better mental place, and by taking action, I can finally say goodbye to this particular mountain. I know, without a doubt, I’ve been here long enough.
If you’ve seen yourself in this post, then I want you to know that my heart goes out to you. It is a heartbreaking, miserable place to be. You are not alone. You don’t have to stay at this mountain, and there is a healthier, happier, fuller existence waiting for you. If you are facing issues of your own, and need some health and wellness guidance, I would love to work with you. Just shoot me an email or fill out the contact form. If you have questions about my faith and beliefs, or want to know more about having a personal relationship with God, I would be happy to talk to you, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Tell me: Is there a mountain you’re ready to leave behind?