Journal #94

A brief update-

 

This is still hard! Big surprise, I’m sure. My mom keeps reminding me that this process is (always) harder before it’s easier, and I’m holding onto that hope today. Tuesday, I met with my dietician, after having increased my exchanges, and was sure my weight had increased. Well, it hadn’t. It had actually hit the magic number…and it wasn’t so magical. There were lots of tears on Tuesday (and Monday, and Wednesday, and yesterday, actually), but I promised I’d do anything I needed to in order to stay another week. My dietician agreed to two more days, and upped my exchanges again, while also putting me on exercise restriction. The last 48 have been grueling as a result. Yesterday, I went in for a weight check, and it was up. Only a little bit, but I was “in the clear” to keep working and moving forward. So, that’s where I am today. Still working, harder than ever it feels like — though I know it’s this hard every time I’ve gone through it — to get back to where I need to be. One step at a time. My dietician has been incredible supporting me through this, sending my mom and me emails each day encouraging me and making sure we all stay on the same page. It’s really, really helpful and I feel so blessed to have her on my team. I know my mom does, too.

Bridge

Journal #93

Hello, me again! This is really hard!

It’s hard to make yourself do the opposite of what your brain’s wired for. I know it’s right, and I knew it would be hard, but I woke up to the reality of it! I saw my thighs jiggle this morning when I was putting on some shorts.

I know. How self-obsessed, trivial, worldly, and egotistical do I sound when I say that? And to be honest, I hate even writing those words on this page. It definitely crossed my mind to skip that part. I hate admitting that that’s a thought that is so deeply engrained into my head, that a “little” thing like that bothers me so much, that that’s who I am, but I’ve made a commitment to be honest about living with an eating disorder on this blog, so I’m going to be transparent. Additionally, I’m reminding myself that that’s not who am. That’s the eating disorder. Not Bridgette, not God’s fearfully and wonderfully made creation.

Anyway, it’s rare that (in the moment) of having bad E.D. thoughts I’m able to pull myself out of them and counter it with a healthy truth, but it happened this morning, so I just HAD to share! Back to where I started. My jiggling thighs.

I saw it, and immediately cringed, and then did the same movement in front of the mirror again to see if what I really thought was happening, was. Sure enough, they did it again. Yes, this is a form of body checking for those of you wondering.

Right after my initial cringe though, the first thought that came to my head was, “You have enough body fat for your thighs to jiggle, but not enough for your body to have a period. So obviously, it’s not as much fat as a woman needs!”

That was actually SO helpful, and I was so proud of myself for going there instead of deeper into the E.D.’s twisted thoughts! Normally I would go down the rabbit trail of, “So, that means skipping lunch”, or “Guess you’ll be doubling up at the gym today”, or “Don’t plan on drinking that extra bottle of water. You can’t afford to put anything else in that body of yours right now!”

But I didn’t. My body’s not where it needs to be, and jiggling thighs or not, I need to keep doing what I need to do until I get my period back.

So, yeah. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s hard, but it’s good, too. It’s good walking in truth and honesty. It’s good having the roommates that I’m so fortunate to have and who care about me so much. It’s good being able to listen to a wonderful sermon at the gym while I’m lifting, and to be able to fully focus and meditate on the words that I’m hearing, instead of being so concerned with reaching the number on the elliptical that I want to that the message is being drowned out by my own thoughts. It’s good pulling my hair back and feeling the continually increasing thickness of it, instead of waking up to a pile of it on my pillow.

As hard as it is to see my thighs jiggle, I’m just going to learn to live with it. No one wants to sit on a grandma’s lap who’s got bony thighs, anyway. I want to be the comfy grandma!

 

🙂 Laughing (and praying I do well on this midterm I’m about to go take),

Bridge

Journal #92

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted a “Journal entry!” This is coming directly from my heart, without much filtering, so I’ve decided it fits better into that category.

As I mentioned recently, my therapist has told me that I need to reread Decoding Anorexia. She said in our appointment a couple days ago that she thinks I’ve become “lax” about my recovery, and have begun to view my own hesitancy towards gaining those few pounds back as the resistance that most women would to that suggestion. I’m not sure how she does it, but she somehow knows how to explain my thinking before I even understand it…(granted, minutes before, I’d just said, “I just think we’re making too big a deal out of this; if any normal person just lost a few pounds they’d be PRAISED, but I’m being hounded and punished until it comes back on…”). Subsequently, came the assignment to reread the book. And yes, okay, it was a good idea, Rachel! I sat down with it this afternoon on the couch and opened up to Chapter 10, the second to last chapter. It’s titled, Oops, I did it Again…, and I remembered that it was the one that talked about relapse.

By the time I finished the first page, I’d remembered how powerful this book was for me. I was reminded that Anorexia is an illness — not a mind game, or a diet gone wrong, or an obsession with weight, but an illness. If I don’t stay on track with my recovery, meaning that I am intentionally meeting my exchanges each day, as well as not exercising more than five days a week (for only 30 minutes at a time, and abstaining from cardio, for now), I WILL RELAPSE. Hard. As Rachel told me the other day, if I need to tell myself that I have Diabetes, or another medical illness that explains having to be rigid about food intake and exercise expenditure in order to strictly enforce my recovery behaviors, then that’s just what I need to do. Because skipping meals is not an option for me. Skipping snacks is not an option for me. Overdoing exercise, even one day, is not in the cards for me right nowOne year into recovery, studies show that the brain has begun to form new patterns and habits, and that more flexibility can begin to be integrated (in terms of not always having three meals and two snacks a day, or going over the typical exercise allowance for a particular event), but it has to remain intentional.

The new wallpaper for my phone, which I found on Pinterest (what can’t you find on there?!) says, “You’re either working on recovery or you’re working on a relapse”, and that’s my mantra for this next month. Really, it’ll probably be one of mine for the remainder of my life, but this next month especially. I know that this month, I need to get back to the top of that hill. Like I’ve quoted from Decoding Anorexia before, being just 2.2 pounds away from “the weight”, is proven to significantly affect the likelihood of relapsing. It’s the equivalent to being 20 feet away from the top of a big hill — so close, but far enough that as soon as you stop pedaling, you’re going to slide right back down to where you started. So, for right now, that’s my goal. Get to the weight. Whatever it takes. I’m gonna get to the top of that hill!

I’ve got a lot more to write about later, but for now I’m going to get back to studying for my anatomy midterm tomorrow.

In Him,

🙂 Bridge

Olympic Reflections

The Olympics have always been really special to me. As I’ve shared before, I used to be a swimmer. Swimming wasn’t just something I did for fun, it was my passion. My world. My identity. The highlights of my summers were camps taught by elite coaches and the end of the long-course season (Can I get an Amen?), with sleeping in a foreign concept. I had practically memorized Michael Phelps’ book Beneath the Surface, and Natalie Coughlin’s Golden Girl, reading one or the other at least once a month, and had posters of my idols donning my closet ceiling.

My most vivid positive memories are of swimming: swim practices, swim meets, swim camps, team banquets and State Awards Ceremonies… I don’t think I’ll ever get the feeing of standing behind those blocks, heart pounding, head racing, muscles pulsing, out of my head. As a young swimmer growing up, my dream was always to go to the Olympics. I was dead-set on competing; it wasn’t a question of “if”, but a question of what I’d have to do to get there. My email was “Beijingbound101@aol.com” in reference to the Beijing Olympics, but given that I would be not even 12 years old when those took place, I was planning on competing in London, in 2016. The greatest gift I’ve received to this day was traveling to Omaha, Nebraska with my mom to go watch the Olympic Trials. I’d already met Michael Phelps before, but at trials I met the young Missy Franklin, before she’d gained fame as an Olympian. Those trials just fueled my fire for the following games even more.

In the year following my “retirement” from swimming, any mention of the Olympics felt like a stabbing pain in my chest. I know I was only 14 at the time, and I know it’s not likely I would’ve been an Olympian had I been able to continue swimming. But it was that “What if?” that left my heart mourning.

The London Olympics seemed to go by in slow motion, and I can recall numerous nights spent crying in the shower and in bed while trying to fall asleep at night, asking God why He would’ve given me this passion and desire, not to mention talent and determination, for this sport my body wasn’t able to do.

I don’t believe time heals all wounds, as I don’t think I have or ever will get over my loss of swimming, but the degree of pain has definitely subsided. I do not feel a gaping hole in my heart from the hole that swimming left simply by waking up in the morning, but I definitely still feel it when I walk past a swim meet going on at Dixon, see a girl running around with wet, chlorine-saturated hair, wearing an iron-printed meet sweatshirt with her name starred on the back, or, yes, am reminded of the Olympics.

My identity is (obviously) no longer found in swimming. Ideally, I’d find it completely in Jesus; that’s a lot harder than it sounds. In these past years, through my parents’ divorce, transitioning schools, and my eating disorder (just to name a few), I’ve grown significantly closer to Him. It’s still hard to accept that I don’t have any one “accomplishment” I can claim, though. I don’t think that desire will ever fully go away. And I think that as long as I don’t use that desire to fuel the eating disorder, that’s okay. I’ve definitely noticed that the E.D. is significantly more attractive, even if just to my subconscious, when I’m dwelling on my swimming days and reminiscing on those moments of success.

I don’t really know why I’m writing this, mostly to process, I guess. I spent an hour last night watching swimming videos, and did my entire anatomy reading while listening to the playlist of songs I listened to repeatedly for over a year after I quit. It brought back up the sadness again, but I also think it was needed. It’s a reminder that I’m not going to get those days back, whether I weigh twenty pounds less, or not.

Success is a tough thing. I think it can be awesome when used for God’s glory, but I also think we, as humans (at least I am), are often attracted to it for the wrong reasons. When I’m pitying myself in moments of reminiscence, I’m not sad because I think my lack of swimming accomplishments won’t bring as many people to Jesus as I wish it would. I’m sad that I won’t get that satisfaction of being a champion, of blazing new trails, of making a name for myself. When I refocus myself and realize who it is I’m supposed to be living my life for, the whole thing seems a little silly, to be honest. I think there will be a way for me to bring just as much glory to God, whether I’m an Olympic swimmer or not 🙂

-Bridge

Walking the Tightrope

To be completely honest, I’ve had a pretty hard week.

I don’t think my roommates would guess that. To an outsider, I think I look like I’m doing pretty well. My mom knows, though. Moms always know.

I wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge that I was struggling as much as I am, largely because I’ve been able to tell myself I’m doing fine since my weight’s not dropping. Per usual though, my treatment team beat me to it. I saw both my psychiatrist and therapist upon returning home this weekend, and they spoke firmly with me. My therapist threatened to stop seeing me if I don’t make changes. Hearing that kind of woke me up. I hadn’t even been thinking that was a possibility given where I’m at. I’m still medically stable. I’m still eating three meals and my snacks each day. I’m not overdoing the exercise. But I’m not where they want me to be. I’m at a standstill. And as they put it, there’s no point in seeing all of them each week if I’m not making progress.

My mom put it interestingly this morning when she said, “Bridge, you don’t accept ‘average’ in any other areas of your life, not your grades, not your athletic ability..not your performance on anything. When it comes to your recovery, though, you’re perfectly happy staying just where it’s ‘good enough.'”

What she’s referring to, and what my team’s getting on me about, is my weight (big surprise). While I am eating just enough and not over-exercising, I’m eating just enough. The bare minimum. My weight’s not at the point where I’m being pulled out of school, but it’s close. Like, one pound away close. Close enough that Dr. Rock’s convinced if I came in to get weighed before lunch instead of after, I’d be at that “magic number.” My weight’s been below where it’s needed to be for over a month now, and I’ve been out of my weight range for a little over three weeks. I’ve consistently been told, and agreed, that it needs to come back up. Not a lot, but where it was at when I discharged from treatment.

That’s a lot easier said than done.

You know what’s frustrating about all of that? I feel great right here-right where I am, right now.

I’m comfortable in my body. I’m comfortable with what I’m eating. I love where I’m living in Corvallis, my friends, my family, my work, and I’ve gotten into a rhythm with school. I’m not at the point (yet) where those things are being taken away from me. I know that if I challenge the eating disorder, just for those last couple pounds, it’s going to bring up the thoughts and feelings that I’m finally feeling free of. So, I’m very comfortable staying right where I am.

And my therapist told me yesterday that that’s okay. If I want to keep doing what I’m doing, and be (as she said) “almost anorexic,” that’s fine. I won’t continue to see providers and I won’t have a team breathing down my neck about getting back to where I need to be.

I also know that if that happens, it’s only a matter of time before I do start to slide down the slippery slope again, and hit that magic number that I know triggers the landslide into a deep and dark relapse.

I feel like I’m walking a tightrope. I’m very comfortable right now, but if I stay here, I know it’s only a matter of time before I fall. Or, as my mom said (don’t moms always know everything?), it’s like an alcoholic who’s doing “okay” just having one drink a night because they don’t want to endure the pain that would come with giving it up completely. That’s not a very secure future. If it’s a temptation, with the end result potentially being incredibly destructive, why even mess around with it? Especially in the case of alcoholism or anorexia, where it’s biologically based. I should, as the Bible would say, “flee from temptation.”

I know that the consequences of my staying at my current weight is relapse, because I won’t stay there. Almost Anorexic Bridgette will slowly but surely succumb more and more to the eating disorder, developing weaker and weaker bones, completely lose her period and ability to have children, likely die early from heart failure, and most importantly, not experience the true freedom and joy that comes with living. As comfortable as I am right now, I know it’s not the life Jesus wants for me. Heck, that’s not the life want for me. Almost Anorexic is not the Bridgette that’s going to be able to study abroad, to intern in Colombia, to be a nurse who impacts the lives of children, who is able to jump for joy when the Beavs beat the Ducks in the Civil War.

So, as I write this blog post (which, yes, is also serving as a way for me to process all of this!), I am ready to proclaim that I need to gain that last bit of weight. I need to do it not only for me, but for Jesus.

Goin’ for the #gainz

 

In Him,

Bridgette

Reflections on Colombia 2016

This is a post from my friend Opher, who spent the past two weeks in Colombia. We met on his second (my first) trip there last summer, with Young Life Expeditions. The trip was one of the most incredible and God-filled experiences I’ve ever had. The plan, as of last fall, was to return to Colombia this year an intern with the Young Life organization there. Once I went back into treatment, it became clear that this year was not the time, but I cannot wait until I’m able to experience the love and community Jesus has and is cultivating in Bogota.

To Be an Opher

Bogota, Colombia.  My second home.  I say that with my full heart.

I just returned from my third trip to Bogota in the last four years with Young Life Expeditions.  Each time I have journeyed there, I have fallen a little more in love.  And this year was no different.

First of all, I want to encourage my friends and readers to seriously consider embarking on a Young Life Expedition.  Young Life is Young Life no matter what language or culture you are in.  That is because Jesus is Jesus no matter the langauge or culture.  The emphasis YL puts on relational ministry here in the States holds true internationally.  The YL leaders across the world are no different than those in the States.  Teenagers are teenagers.  Take the risk and the bold step to get out of your comfort zone and witness this beautiful truth with YLX, I would…

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Count It All Joy

I wish I could put into words how wonderful these past three weeks in Corvallis have been, but I can’t.

That’s not to say that everything’s been easy, because it hasn’t. My anatomy class is moving very fast (as is the nature of summer courses), and I got a (insert gasp here) “D” on one of my midterms, despite the significant amount of studying I’d done for it. I’m not one to get D’s — in fact, I’m a 4.0 student. But if anything, I think that this one was a great learning experience for me. The grade is redeemable (by doing better on the final), and I also learned that I’m lacking a significant portion of the biology material that is the foundation for this course. Since making that discovery, I’ve begun to study more of the basics of biology in conjunction with the anatomy content, and everything is making MUCH more sense.

Despite the D, I still maintain that these past three weeks have been inexplicably great. That is a huge turning point for me, and I think what it all comes down to, is manipulation.

These recent weeks have made me realize what a significant portion of my life, namely the last few years, I’ve spent playing the manipulation game.

And it makes sense, really. When my therapist and I started to uncover this last week, she looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Bridgette. Look at your life. Look at your childhood. Look at everything that got ripped out from under you. It makes complete sense that after going through what you did, you’d want to control absolutely everything you could.

So, it makes sense. It’s “human nature,” you could probably say. And I will say that. I will accept that, that this response that I had was natural, that it’s all a part of who I am in being human.

But that doesn’t mean it’s right, that doesn’t mean it’s Godly, and that certainly does not mean it’s not a sin.

I think it’s this surrendering of the manipulation that’s allowed me to experience this newfound, true joy, these past weeks, despite any circumstances. The type of peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

There are many things in life that I can (and have) tried to manipulate. My body, is obviously one. When I’m holding myself to a restrictive diet and an unhealthily obsessive exercise regimen that takes over all other aspects of my life, that’s me trying to manipulate it. That’s me not accepting that I have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), not accepting that I have been made “in God’s image” (Genesis 1:27).

Essentially, that’s saying to Jesus — “Look, God, I get it that you think I’m wonderful. I get it that I’m made perfectly and completely, just the way you wanted me to be. But it’s not good enough for me! It’s not the way I like it. So I’m going to change it. P.S., thanks for dying on the cross and forgiving my sins and loving me unconditionally and all that other stuff.”

What a way to praise our creator, the Lord of the Universe!

It sounds silly (at least, I hope it does!) when I put it like that, but really, I think that’s how it actually must feel to Jesus! We’re denying Him when we do these things! We’re saying that we don’t trust Him, that His way is not good enough for us. 

That’s not the way I want to live my life. And I’m absolutely POSITIVE that’s not the way Christ wants us to live.

My body’s not the only thing I’ve tried to manipulate, though it may be the most obvious thing, given the E.D.

Other things have been: my time (and what I spend it on, using it for selfish reasons and not to glorify or know Jesus more intimately), my finances (giving only enough to the point where I’m “comfortable” that I’ll be able to sustain the life and spending that I want to have, not trusting that He will provide), and I’m sure there are many, many other things.

The greatest difference I’ve seen in my life these past three weeks, has been a lack of manipulating. A lack of trying to control the things that Jesus wants me to hand over to Him. Each morning, when I’ve risen, I’ve spent time in the Word of God. I’ve fought the urge to stay in bed just a few minutes longer, and opened up my Bible. Each time I’ve gone to the gym, I’ve only stayed for 30 minutes. I’ve ignored the voice in my head that says “Just do ten more minutes, Bridge…it won’t hurt a thing. Don’t you want those abs? You know you guys are going to Burgerville tonight…,” and I’ve followed my treatment team’s plan. When I was handed a snack at work by one of the coaches on Wednesday (some new product we’d received) and told to try it, my gut reaction was to make up some excuse as to why I “couldn’t” have it, knowing I’d go home just an hour later and have my snack. The snack I’d planned on having, the one I’d eaten each of the previous afternoons for the past week. As I sat there with the snack on my desk, plotting what I was going to say if he came back and asked how I liked it, I realized what I was doing. Was it really worth going to all this trouble just so I could have “my snack”? No, it wasn’t. In that moment, I opened up the package, and popped the first piece into my mouth. Pleasantly enough, I actually liked it. As insignificant as that one incident may seem, it was symbolic. Because it was me choosing recovery over the eating disorder, choosing freedom over manipulation, choosing Jesus over me.

And what it’s resulted in, has been an inexplicable, unjustifiable, peace, and a deep, deep, joy that I have not felt in quite some time.

Let Freedom Ring

Happy Fourth of July!

 

I won’t be spending this 4th celebrating with fireworks or a barbecue, instead studying for my anatomy midterm tomorrow morning, but that doesn’t really bother me. I love my country every day-and honestly, I feel like Thanksgiving’s more of the holiday that eclipses “The United States” more than the 4th does.

I am choosing to spend this day being intentional about one word, though: Freedom.

The definition of freedom, at least according to google dictionary, is “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”

I am thankful that, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m celebrating the Fourth of July actually feeling free.

I’ve never felt more free than I did last night, sitting at American Dream Pizza at a rooftop table, eating a slice of cheese pizza with my friend Kyle. It seemed like pretty perfect timing, given it being the eve of the day we celebrate our country’s freedom.

Kyle and I had been planning on going out to dinner for a while. Actually, it was a make-up for our “lunch” that was supposed t0 happen back in March, when I was commuting to school. We met up but…I didn’t eat. So, we decided that some redemption needed to be had! And dinner it was.

I had a place in mind for where we’d go, so I did my meal plan for the day accordingly. Something that’s really hard for me, eating disorder-wise is dairy. It’s also hard on my stomach, and I take a lactaid pill whenever I have it, but as long as I take the pill I’m usually fine. It’s more of my eating disorder that prevents me from having it often (more than once a day). Which, is rather inconvenient, given that it’s specifically on my meal plan to have twice a day!

Anyway, I had my meal plan all figured out, and knew exactly what I’d be eating the rest of the day. This helped eliminate a lot of my anxiety, though I was still pretty anxious about the prospect of eating out, especially with someone who’s not in my immediate support network. Using coping skills and reminding myself of my goals, I got myself to eat everything I needed to, including my turkey sandwich with cheese at lunch. It was “okay” because I wasn’t going to be having cheese at dinner. Or so I thought.

The time came to head out and go pick Kyle up, and we ventured downtown to go have our meal. I was having a good time, but I’d be lying if I said that what we were going to be eating wasn’t preoccupying some of my thoughts. As we passed numerous restaurants, and I pointed out the one I’d been thinking we’d go to, Kyle said, “OH, look-American Dream!! Let’s go get pizza!”

There must’ve been some look on my face, because he immediately followed with, “Do you like pizza? Wait, you’re not like, vegan, are you?”

I could tell he was somewhat joking, and I knew he really would be okay with going wherever I was most comfortable. But I could also tell that he really wanted pizza. And we were right across from American Dream, and the smell of fresh pizza was wafting right to the spot on the sidewalk where we stood.

So, taking a deep breath, I said, “Sure! Yeah, no, pizza’s great! Let’s do it!”

And we did it.

I had so much fun.

We each ordered a slice of pizza (actually, Kyle ended up getting a second, which did make me feel better!), and sat on the rooftop, laughing and talking and enjoying the fresh, cheesy pizza, sliding off the crust. The sun was sinking down into the sky and it was a perfect 75 degrees out-I couldn’t have asked for a better evening. By the time I’d finished, I realized that I’d just had a slice of pizza. After having already had cheese at lunch.

Pizza, and cheese, that hadn’t been on my meal plan.

And I was okay.

In fact, I was better than okay. I was living. I was enjoying time with a friend, and was calling the shots rather than the eating disorder dictating them for me.

I called Brad and told him everything that had just happened. I literally gave him a play-by-play, when I probably could’ve just said, “I just had pizza and it wasn’t on my meal plan!!!!!” and he would’ve been just as proud. But I couldn’t keep it in, I was just SO excited and in shock! I genuinely cannot remember the last time I ate something spontaneously like that. It’s been YEARS.

On the evening of the Fourth of July, I finally felt free.

-Bridge

Man, I Feel Like a Woman

I can recall blasting that song in the backseat of my god-mom’s GMC at the tender age of six, sitting with my god-sisters, thinking Shania Twain was just about the coolest person on earth. To feel like a woman – what a cool thing! It seemed so empowering at the time…being a woman meant being independent, having privileges and responsibilities. There would be no rules to follow as a woman…being a woman meant no longer being a child. No authority to listen to, no rules to follow (apparently I didn’t realize that there were these things called “laws” that apply, even as an adult). Putting on lipstick, something I’ve talked about in my blog before (if you missed that post, you can read it here) was a sign of maturity, something that only the cool kids could do. Even to be a teenager…wow. It seemed so many years beyond me then, but it sure snuck up fast. Belting “MAN! I FEEL LIKE A WOMAN!” in the back of the Yukon, my dreams of being a grown-up developed, only to fade away as I actually grew into the role.

Last night I wore lipstick. As insignificant as that may sound, putting on that lipstick reminded me what it feels like to feel like a woman.

I haven’t put on lipstick in about two years, since the time I really got into the E.D. for the second time. A friend of mine, my Young Life co-leader (when I was leading), was getting married, and I knew I’d be seeing a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time. And I wanted to look good. I’d had a good week, despite having to deal with more issues with my car, and upon leaving to go back to school in the evening, wanted to surprise my mom with how well I was doing. So, after I’d gotten all ready – which included putting on jewelry (something I’m not particularly fond of, and had to go into my mom’s room to find) and a dress and a pair of wedges – I found some of my mom’s lipstick, and with trepidation, applied it First to my upper lip, then to my lower. I felt silly not even knowing how to put it on, at almost 20, but hey, you live and you learn, right? Finally satisfied with the way it looked, I continued doing whatever I’d been doing before, knowing my mom would come in any minute to see how I looked. When she walked in, she gasped.

“You’re wearing LIPSTICK!!!!?????!!! It looks so good, Bridgey!! Oh my goodness, you look so beautiful!!!”

And while I don’t like to admit that I’m a person who likes compliments (and when I’m deep into the E.D., I absolutely detest them and don’t believe them in the slightest), hearing her say that felt really, really good. I actually FELT beautiful. In that moment, I didn’t really care that I may ingest an additional five calories that day due to the extra bit of fat sitting on my lips. I felt like a woman, and for the first time, that felt like a good thing.

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Here’s an awkward selfie I took in the car because my mom insisted I document that I was wearing lipstick.

The wedding was really hard for me to be at. I was expecting that to be the case, as a good majority of the guests were Young Lifers, many of whom I hadn’t seen since I left school to go to residential. I knew it would be hard, awkward, and uncomfortable, but I also knew I needed to go. I felt I owed it to Megan, who had been such a great friend to me during and after the time I was leading with her. It was also the first time I got to see three of my girls, the ones that I had led, and taken to camp, and whom I had felt so awful about leaving and, as I felt it, abandoning, when I had to leave Corvallis for treatment. I prayed the entire drive to Salem for the interactions I would have, and that I would feel Jesus’ presence with me throughout the evening. Though it was really, really hard, I do believe that prayer was answered. I don’t believe any of our prayers go unanswered, actually, just that we don’t always like the answer, but in this case, I did feel that Jesus blessed me with the feeling of His presence throughout the night. Driving into the vineyard, where the wedding was being held, the view got more and more beautiful the more my anxiety grew. It was perfect, in a way, like the two were countering each other. As I knew the time was getting closer to when I’d have to endure what I was so nervous about, I was being greeted with the Lord’s incredible creation – the sun overhead, sinking deeper into the sky ever so slowly, the fields of gold glowing, a perfect contrast with the dark green trees and beautiful white wooden fences. And, as if on cue, right when I opened my car door, taking a deep breath and making my final preparations to see everyone, my Young Life girls were walking up.

“BRIDGETTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, they shouted, as they ran toward me and wrapped their arms around me so hard I lost my balance and had to grab onto their shoulders to avoid face-planting into the gravel. It was one of the best greetings I’ve ever received. Almost immediately, I felt the anxiety melt away, as I realized these girls loved me no matter what.

Granted, the other greetings I received were not quite so overwhelmingly loving, but I was so thankful to have my girls by my side throughout the night and to be able to celebrate with Megan. I ate dinner there, which was another challenge in itself (as if just being there wasn’t enough of one!), and though I knew I could get away with eating before and leaving after the ceremony, I also knew that that wouldn’t look very good in terms of my recovery and how I’m doing. So, I told myself that I would stay through dinner and do my best to enjoy it. To my surprise, my favorite food, salmon, was served, so that was really nice. I ate with my girls, and at around 8:30, started to say my goodbyes and head and then headed off to Corvallis. I called my mom and told her alllllll about my time, and then she affirmed how great it was that I did what I did, and how much progress I’m making. That was really good to hear. I went to bed, forgetting all about my lipstick.

This morning, I woke up to another beautiful day in Corvallis, and then enjoyed a nice, long walk, listening to my pastor (Pastor Ryan)’s sermon from last week that I missed since I wasn’t at home. It was a great message, and was a great way to start my day, refreshed.

And guess what? My clothes still fit the same, even though I wore (and possibly consumed some) lipstick yesterday. Who knows, maybe I’ll start wearing it more often.

-Bridge