The process of finding yourself

Is there a part of you that feels like you don’t really know who you are?

As I read through old journal entries dated from childhood to adolescence, there is a common theme to them.

“Who am I?”

“What is my identity?”

This confusing sense of identity has been a constant in my life.

I know myself but I just feel like I’m missing something… who am I really?

The moment I “lost myself” is not an incredibly clear one.

My best guess would be the transition into teenage years.

When you are struggling to fit in, you keep trying on different masks until you find one that people like.

I never found that mask but I did find alcohol, which always took the edge off of the excruciating feeling of living in my own skin.

Tired of failing at being accepted for who I was, I stopped trying completely and pursued the next best option- numbing.

When I was 13, I achieved the feeling of being completely numb for the first time.

Alcohol became my best friend.

When I was drinking, I just didn’t care.

I didn’t care that I was ugly.

I didn’t care that nobody liked me.

I didn’t care that life was racing in a blur around me when I was supposed to be growing into a decent young adult.

The negative choices I made in my adolescence are what robbed me of my identity.

I freaking gave up on myself, gave up on finding my mask.

I chose to hide behind the emptiness of covering up my pain with substance.

Now in my adult years feeling a void in establishing my personal foundation.

I missed all of that and so now, that I’m mature enough to go and try on masks again, I’m figuring it out one mistake at a time.

Life is crazy you guys.

I took a risk when I chose to find myself.

Self reflection isn’t the easiest when you have a battered past.

“I want to go back and relive my worst traumas!” Said no one ever.

But those traumas are literal chains that will keep us bound until we face them.

In the process of finding myself, parts of the old me had to die.

The haunting shadows of the scariest memories of my life felt like a reality again for quite some time as I sorted through it all.

I got a lot crazier before I got better.

I’ll never forget my very first session with my anxiety therapist.

I was two months pregnant with my second child and had already gained 20 pounds.

It was the first time I had eaten like a normal person after an Exercise anorexia 8 month spiral.

I had stopped taking 4mg of prescribed Xanax a day cold turkey because I didn’t want to hurt my baby.

Every day was one big panic attack.

She asked me to say aloud,

“I am beautiful.”

And I couldn’t.

Instead anger and tears erupted in defense of my self deprecation.

We spent three years poking and prying, in which time I became completely nuts.

The first phase of finding myself was filled with anger and blame on others.

In that time I irrationally pointed the finger and blew up on my mom multiple times.

I would call her and be freaking out, sometimes even yelling, about something that I was understanding for the first time.

These memories stemmed from my grieving mind fiercely and emotionally believing that I had been done wrong.

It was a long going, deep seeded outburst of emotions I was just coming to terms with for the first time.

I found out that my Mom has Borderline Personality Disorder.

Her symptoms of the mental illness distorted my perception of myself.

I wasn’t actually “the ugliest kid in the entire world”, and if we are being real, I can’t blame her for the fact that I never found myself.

The first part of finding myself required facing some heavy shit so that I could live a better life.

The second part of finding myself was a beautiful blossoming into who I was always supposed to be.

Like a butterfly spreading its wings for the very first time, I broke free from the hell that had been consuming me.

The process of finding yourself is a journey of understanding that you are the only one who can change your situation.

The moment you decide to own responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you become a butterfly. 🦋

It’s worth the process.

Check out Project Identity for more inspirational content and resources. ❣️

Who am I aside from “mom”?

Last week my Mother-in-law took both of my kiddos overnight.

As a stay at home mom for almost two years, it was a bittersweet feeling.

There was this ominous blaring of freedom along with an overbearing sense that I was missing a big piece of myself.

Waking up the next morning to a quiet house and calmly walking into the kitchen.

Greeted with a rush of confusing emotions.

How do I start my morning without my kids?!

The moment was surprisingly overwhelming, igniting a stream of tears down my cheek.

‘Who even am I besides Mom…?’

I’m not your average mom.

When I got pregnant the first time it wasn’t mapped out to happen according to my “picture perfect plan”.

I was 19 and a full blown alcoholic when I got my positive pregnancy test.

I didn’t know how to take care of myself at the time… let alone the life of a tiny human.

There wasn’t a house or a husband… it was indeed, very backwards.

January 2012

I posted this photo to announce the news.

The caption stating, “joining the mommy club!”.

The things that people wrote in response to that post were terrible.

In their defense, the thought of that person as a mom was rightfully baffling…

“That baby is going to be so messed up!”

Only God knew what I was capable of.

The pregnancy was a process of growth and change.

August 2012

I was learning how to navigate life sober for the very first time while also juggling the chaos of preparing for a newborn.

For me, pregnancy was the perfect distraction from all of my “crap” though.

Nothing else mattered besides the precious little life that was growing inside of me.

After my sweetie pie arrived everything literally started anew.

No longer was I the broken young adult, searching recklessly for love at the bottom of a bottle.

It’s like that person died and a totally different me was born- equipped with a baby.

My name is Mommy.

And boy, I could go on and on about her.

Happy mom, sad mom, mad mom, rushed mom, stressed mom, excited mom… to name a few.

Alexis on the other hand?

Literally doesn’t know how to start a morning without her kids.

That’s honestly about all I know.

Motherhood has this beautiful way of changing us.

We take on this new role that nothing could ever prepare us for.

It’s the most fulfilling yet consuming title on earth.

In my case, motherhood literally took my old mess of a life and replaced it with a really good one.

Suddenly I had a reason to live…. my kids.

Motherhood gave me purpose in life so I established an identity around that role.

“Mom” was the new me, a foundation I’ve built from over the past 6 years.

But take away my kids for one morning and suddenly I’m completely lost.

There aren’t roles for “Alexis”, “wife”, “self“.

The problem lies in the fact that I can’t be my “best mom” if I don’t ever tend to my needs as an individual.

And what even are my needs?

I don’t know.

How do you even go about learning who you are…?

Baby steps.

Small observations while continuing on with everyday life.

A good starting place might be imagining my “perfect morning” if I lived alone and had nobody else to worry about.

Understanding how I’d prefer to spend my morning doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything, it’s simply establishing preference as an individual.

Personal identity is a vital part of life.

Our identity cannot rely solely on another person as our identity is what is true for us.

At the end of the day, I am the only person that I’m in control of.

Yes, “mom” is a piece of my identity…. a very important piece that I hold high in value.

But I’m more than just “mom”.

My name is Alexis.

I value God, balance, family, and routine.

I dislike chaos, drama, feeling rushed, and over scheduling.

I will do anything for the people that I love.

I thrive on taking care of others.

And someday, when my kids are grown and moved away, I will be okay with who I am as an individual.

Check out my blog PROJECT IDENTITY for more raw inspiration! 💕

When toxic relationships turn violent

“They give you heaven and they give you hell.”

After graduating high school I moved to Florida to experience life away from home.

A couple months into this experience I crossed paths with a guy I went to middle school with in Colorado.

Jumping into a relationship, the passion grew like fire.

Dysfunctional was an understatement.

It started as little battles with control.

We fell hard and we fell fast.

I drank myself stupid every single day.

I had a history of picking guys that became obsessive- The red flags disguised in familiarity.

His burning desire to sustain this dysfunctional relationship resulted in a tightened grip on me.

I worked at a kiosk in the mall and he would creep around upstairs, watching me.

Everyone else could see the madness, but I was blind.

The first time he got arrested was because I wanted to go tan.

He hated when I tanned because they wouldn’t let him go in the room with me.

He couldn’t watch me for 15 minutes of the day and it killed him inside.

“YOU ARE MEETING A GUY IN THERE AND CHEATING ON ME!!!”

He roared.

As the grip tightened, I repelled.

This first incident started with my attempt to to sneak out the door and tan.

He came racing after me, jumping in his car, without shoes or a shirt on.

At the stoplight he put his car in park and started banging on my car window screaming.

A bystander called it in.

“SHOOT ME! JUST SHOOT ME!!!”

He yelled at the police officers as they took him into custody.

After being released from jail he moved right back into my apartment.

Looking back I know I should have recognized the signs.

But lust blinds us…

The next time the cops were called came after a dispute on rent money.

He couldn’t hold a job with his full schedule of stalking me and once again I was left to come up with all of it.

I was almost an entire bottle of Burnette’s in, but no amount of alcohol could erase what happened next from my mind.

Enraged and heated, substances amiss, he snapped.

He grabbed my throat and slammed me against the wall.

Using his grip as leverage he began to lift me up.

I went numb.

The next thing I remember is the way the carpet felt on my face.

He was gone, I was shaken and impulsively called the police.

In the minutes it took for the police to arrive though, I had changed my mind.

I wanted to erase the phone call for help and resubmit to this hell.

So I crawled underneath my bed trying to hide.

BOOM BOOM

“POLICE! OPEN UP!!”

It took close to 30 minutes and threats to break down my door before I surrendered.

I was hiding to protect someone who tried to kill me… like how twisted is that?!?!

I’m writing this because I know that someone reading it will resonate with domestic violence.

You guys, toxic relationships DON’T GIVE YOU HEAVEN!!!

It’s the devil distorting every ounce of sense from your mind.

If just days later my roommates wouldn’t have robbed every last thing I had, I possibly would have remained in the relationship.

I know for sure that at times when things got lonely, times before I fell in love again, that I would have gone back for sure.

That is so ridiculously messed up that it’s not even funny.

Thankfully, I made it out of the relationship before it was literally the death of me.

Don’t settle for toxicity in relationships!

Don’t be blind to red flags!

GET OUT BEFORE IT GETS BAD!

You may be in a toxic relationship if your partner is:

  • Overbearing
  • Abnormally controlling
  • Obsessive
  • Stalking
  • Manipulative
  • Verbally abusive
  • Physically abusive

You deserve someone who treats you like the worthy, incredible, person that you are.

And they ARE out there!!!

Not until you escape your prison, lock the door, and throw away the key… will you find them.

If you or somebody you know is in an abusive relationship, feel free to send me an email!

If love to assist you in getting through this! 💕❤️👇

Alexisvw.projectidentity@gmail.com

Or DM me on Instagram at:

alexisvw.projectidentity

Or drop me a comment below! ❤️👇

Check out my blog, Project Identity for more articles on overcoming adversity! 🌤

What I didn’t know about addiction

When I got sober it was a fairly unique situation.

The day I quit drinking was also the very first day I wanted to quit drinking.

A couple days of seizures on the bathroom floor was enough to start anew.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much my personal experience has clouded my opinion on addicts.

To me, alcohol was an escape from myself.

I hated myself.

I hated my life.

Numb was the only way that I could continue functioning.

Alcohol was that door to checking out from reality and entering a world where I just didn’t care.

With booze, life always seemed less real.

I didn’t annoy myself as much when I was drunk.

The bottle was my ticket to escaping the life I couldn’t bare anymore.

My brother had his own struggles with addiction.

It would be years after my new leaf of living that nightmare with him before things turned around.

The only thing more difficult than addiction itself is watching a loved one throw away their life for it.

Your life becomes a living hell while they are escaping this reality with substance.

“I promise you that life in sobriety is fun T!!! PLEASE just give it a try and find out!!!”

I pleaded, for years on end.

The best word to describe myself in this plea would be naive.

Naive to feeling that every addict is running from reality.

Naive to think that my brother just liked being drunk too much to quit.

A couple weekends ago we were visiting my now 20 MONTH SOBER brother for fall festivities!

It’s MY FAVORITE family tradition we’ve created!

Our life is so normal now.

We get together and do things as siblings and I swear those are some of the best memories of our lives.

Day one we went to the most badass park I’ve ever seen! 👇

Day two we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch!👇

And day three, during family breakfast, we talked about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

“Man T… I can’t believe you made it! I’m so proud of you!!!”

I professed.

“I had to stop or I was going to die. I’d wake up with ridiculous anxiety and start having panic attacks. It would feel like I was having a heart attack and the only way to make it stop was the booze. It was like a 24/7 never ending hangover.”

Tears started streaming down my face as I realized how much I hadn’t understood about his addiction.

Here I am, preaching to my brother about how cool life is when you aren’t confused all the time, and he wasn’t even confused…. he was sick.

He confessed the fine line of “sipping and driving”.

In other words he wasn’t drinking just to drink.

At just 29 years old, his body was beginning to show signs of long term alcohol abuse.

His body was reliant on alcohol and was literally shutting down without it.

Longer drives required greater focus and when he was “under-medicated” the withdrawal symptoms were so intense that he would end up pulling over for hours at a time in attempt to stop his heart from bursting out of his chest.

He wasn’t drinking to be drunk- he was drinking to stay alive.

He had punched the ticket but he no longer wanted to ride the ride.

“I was embarrassed with myself for how bad it had gotten. I would have died trying to detox on my own. There was a lot of shame in what it had become and the reality of those choices. It was like drowning and waiting for somebody to save you.”

The day his second niece was born was the day my brother amounted the courage to chase his lion.

“I need this to stop and I don’t know how.”

He admitted to a buddy of trust.

Thank you for hearing him, Carl.

It took ten days in detox before being medically cleared for inpatient rehab.

Detox from alcohol is a serious thing!

My brother put in some insanely hard work as he fought for his life.

**Did you know- detoxing from heroin isn’t deadly (though it feels like it), but detoxing from alcohol can be?!**

20 months later my brother is still prioritizing his recovery as an AA sponsor.

God gave me my brother back and I am beyond grateful for this.

I’m thankful that I have a sibling to enjoy life with.

I’m thankful I’m not living in a nightmare anymore.

I’m thankful for his journey, and the new understanding it has given me about addicts.

We are all different so it makes sense that no addiction is the same.

Every addict is running- our differences lie in what is chasing us.

Thank you for using your story to help others T.

I love you.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

Revisiting the memories I would rather have forgotten

“Maybe you should just stop doing the blog if you aren’t able to make any income from it. It’s just so negative….ha. You are always talking about about weird stuff. People must think that you’re nuts!”

This blog has been an absolute rollercoaster.

Some days I ride the high of feeling like I’m helping people while in turn freeing myself of my “baggage”.

Other days I feel like an idiot and wonder why I’m wasting all this time for nothing, until it spirals so far out of control that I about quit.

“Should I really post that?”

“How are people going to react to this?”

Will anyone react to this…?”

The truth is that it would be SO much easier to just go about my life and pretend like all the years of chaos never even happened.

Easier to pretend that I’ve been this “normal” person my whole life…

Easier to bury my skeletons than to go searching for them in attempt to resolve the trauma that they’ve branded me with.

My blog is called Project Identity because I hope to uncover what I feel are “missing pieces” of my identity through the process of this project.

In terms of adversity, I’ve had a very wide range of it.

Mental health, eating disorders, sexual abuse, dysfunctional families…. YOU NAME IT!

By revisiting these traumas, my goal is to sort through my life and figure out who I really am.

This is NOT in any way an attempt to glorify or normalize the things that I’ve done.

Im not sharing my deepest, darkest secrets with YOU to win sympathy or to place blame on others for things that have happened in my life.

My intention IS to help others by saying,

“this is where I was and look where I am now.”

An attempt to find the answers for survival after adversity– answers that I don’t necessarily believe that I have, yet somehow…. I made it.

And the story isn’t over.

People don’t just overcome something and live happily ever after.

With time, the book you just closed will start revealing itself in your next book.

Growing up in a home with a parent who has Borderline Personality Disorder left me runningself medicating with drugs and alcohol.

The consequences that I received for such behavior opened the door for a newfound battle of control with food (read Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself).

All of the above rooting me in distorted self worth and eventually leading to rape and suicide attempts.

Recovery from both addictions simultaneously greeted me with crippling anxiety and PTSD- symptoms I now have to face head on, without a crutch.

I don’t believe that God dealt me these cards by mistake though.

Why?

Because I shouldn’t even be here right now.

The moment my life turned around was also the lowest, darkest place I’ve ever been.

My desire to live was gone, but God had other plans.

Just weeks after multiple failed suicide attempts and hospitalizations, my polar opposite walked into my life and we ended up pregnant.

I wasn’t living for me anymore.

A tiny human who would love me forever was too good of an offer to pass up.

God took the life I couldn’t handle anymore and replaced it with one that I could.

He wanted me here because He knows my heart.

My adversity is God’s opportunity.

His opportunity to change more lives.

This is why I do what I do.

I write about my rawest moments because frankly, life is raw.

The world needs more raw people, too.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

The moment that made me SO distraught I ALMOST put my hands on a child… 💔

*This blog does not condone violence against children or violence period. The following is the raw emotional story being told as a reminder that we are all susceptible to reaching our breaking point.*

The playground- a child’s wonderland.

Of course my five year old was thrilled when our campsite backed up to one this year.

Less than 50 feet away without an obstructed view.

At last, I could relax while simultaneously keeping my child entertained! 😍

Or so I thought…

Karissa is the tiny, little, perfect human who changed my entire world.

Read My untraditional fairy tale for more on my introduction to motherhood.

💕👶🏻👧🏼👱🏽‍♀️🧔🏽💕

My baby will be SIX years old in just over a month!!! 😳

Where has the time gone?!?!

I feel like with my first child I was trying so desperately hard to just keep her ALIVE that I was unable to really ENJOY every minute of it.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I was a 20 year old alcoholic.

After eight years of recklessness, my sobriety didn’t come without a price tag.

I’d been branded by the trauma of my past…. now without anything to numb it.

But this baby was ‘the one thing that would never leave me’

She was SO worthy of my sobriety.

I’ll never forget that confusing moment when we closed our car doors to leave the hospital with our firstborn.

We shared the, “Are they really just giving us a human and saying, “Here you go! Good luck!‘?!” face…. ha.

When my Sassy little one year old, Havynn (pronounced Hay-ven) was born, it was the same insanely beautiful moment but one that I was definitely more prepared for.

This time, I’d have the tools…

The experience… to not lock us up in an apartment for almost a year- attempting to ensure that nothing would ever happen to her.

My anxiety and depression became redundant after the delivery of my first.

Not only was I a new Mom, I was also in my first year of sobriety.

My image of the world was that of the life I submitted myself to at my worst.

Sunlight…fresh air…both were contributors to deafening panic attacks.

Some days even opening the blinds would seem like “reckless behavior” to my crazy mind.

If we never went outside then nothing bad could happen…

Hiding so that “the evil in the world” wouldn’t break in and hurt us…as it once had.

Havynn has had a much different upbringing.

I learned a lot in the process of doing it once.

Through trial and error, “navigating the ropes” of motherhood.

It’s a process of constant learning.

Learning which rules are worth the battle and which ones are just plain stupid.

Using that knowledge as you start again with your second.

You trust yourself more…

You know that you’ve done this before and that YOU CAN do it again.

It’s a comforting feeling of success that helped me in seeing life more realistically the second time around.

Proceeding with confidence now.. my kids are experiencing a lot of things for the first time together.

I can make plans, but only God can make them happen.

Back to the camping trip. ⛺️

Havynn didn’t go camping with us this year.

Karissa was playing her heart out at the playground as I began chopping veggies for foil packets on night two.

It was Friday so kids to play with were finally arriving!

Peeking over my shoulder every couple of seconds to check in on her when I overheard the boys at the playground yelling,

“YOU ARE DIRTY!”

Said one of the boys, as he threw a handful of dirt and rocks in another child’s face.

The boys, who appeared to be around ages 5 and 7, were playing distastefully rough for my liking….

I didn’t have a good feeling about them and didn’t really want my child over there.

Taking measure to avoid overreacting, I ran it by my husband.

“Babe I don’t think those boys are playing very nicely….”

And contrary to my assumption he brushed it off… 😳

‘Okay I must be overreacting.’

…right?

As the sun began to set we welcomed our friends who had just arrived.

I excused myself of “security keeping” for a minute to greet them when my mom’s frantic voice struck down on me like lightning.

HEY STOP IT!! THEY ARE HITTING HER!!!”

My baby is in danger

The world went red as reality washed away around me.

My heart shattering like never before as I chased my daughters cries…

How was this happening?!?!!

I peeled my screaming daughter off the ground….

It’s a feeling that no one prepares you for

The pain in her eyes igniting an uncontainable RAGE in me💔

The boys were attempting to flee as I forced them into a halt.

“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT RUNNING!!!!”

I demanded, in a tone capable of setting off car alarms.

They paused and gazed up at me with sheer terror painted across their faces.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!?!?!”

I was sweating… screaming….shaking.

There was nothing I wanted more in that moment than to make those boys experience the same pain that they had put my child through.

It was a foreign, overbearing outburst of pain that could have ended completely catastrophically.

I thank God for giving me control that I didn’t have in me at that moment.

Control to not KILL two children- something I never dreamed of ever needing control for.

“Take me to your parents, NOW!”

I hissed.

My husband caught up with us as I hysterically caught him up to pace with what was going on.

We were headed for parents who were nowhere in sight, even with all of the commotion going on.

Were these parents even going to care…?!

Their physical lack of presence and the fact that their children are beating other children up didn’t give me a favorable first impression.

Everything about this situation made me angry.

Fifteen seconds into our mission we were intervened upon by a bystander who defended that they were “probably just playing”.

Karissa was too shaken up to verify what I had not seen with my own eyes.

Taking a deep breath as I whispered a prayer.

“I didn’t see what happened so I’m not going to waste any more time on this…

Violence is absolutely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.

Remember that someone is always watching.”

I declared, as we turned to go back to camp.

Advice I needed to hear myself as well.

Per Karissa’s request, we would wait to discuss the incident until we got home.

If the boys were at the playground, we would go to the river or animal farm instead.

When the time came to have that heart to heart, she confirmed that the boys had punched her multiple timesnot playing but in an effort to hurt her.

That admittance made me break into a million pieces all over again.

Tears poured down my cheeks as I held her tightly, apologizing repeatedly for failing to keep her safe.

Karissa is thankfully doing just fine.❤️

She remains the little “angel in my ear”,

Lord…what do you want me to learn from this?

This was an experience that required some self reflection after.

Inflicting the same pain on those boys would have accomplished nothing aside from creating an even bigger monster inside of them.

I saw a side of myself that I didn’t know was in there.

A side angry enough to almost put my hands on someone’s child.

Please remember that it’s not fair to judge how someone reacts in a situation until you’ve been in that situation yourself.

I’m telling you this because THIS COULD BE ANYONE!

I’ve never really imagined how I would react if this type of thing happened but even if I had, my prediction wouldn’t have been accurate.

Planning lacks emotion.

There is literally no pain worse than when your child is in pain.

When I agreed to bring a life into this world I also agreed to do absolutely everything in my power to keep them safe.

I’ve learned that no matter how hard we try to keep our kids safe, their safety is never guaranteed.

We can make plans, but only God can make those plans happen.

It’s not worth wasting your life trying to avoid all risk…

Your story has already been written and your future is inevitable.

Instead of hiding from your fears, pray about them.

Exercise caution as appropriate but live life FEARLESSLY.

That is something that you ARE in control of.

Amen🙏

Check out my blog Project Identity for more❤️

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Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

It was my senior year of high school and I was in rehab.

My mom had finally reached her limit of sleepless nights trying to find me.

Give me a curfew? I wouldn’t come home at all.

Ground me? I’d leave anyway.

Age 17 was a rough year to say the least.

I was an absolute mess.

“No you are NOT putting her in a foster home!”

My brother shouted as he barged into my room, hanging up the phone, telling me to hurry and pack my stuff.

I didn’t know what was in store for me but I sure as heck didn’t imagine it would be almost five months until I returned home.

I spent a week at my brothers house while we waited for the news on my fate.

He was instructed to deliver and watch me swallow my Antabuse- as my mom typically did.

Antabuse is a prescription medication for alcoholics.

If you consume any alcohol while taking Antabuse you will get violently ill.

Neither of them knew that I’d swapped the real pills with a lookalike I had found in my Mom’s closet when she forgot to lock her door one day.

Inpatient rehab would eventually be the verdict.

Before I knew it I was stripped of my belongings and sitting in a treatment center.

Everything was out of my control.

Something inside me was burning to act out and the options in doing so were limited.

At mealtimes I would sit at the table in a daze with only a glass of water.

Some days I would feel guilty for drinking the water and purge it back up.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

I was 13 years old when I first purged.

My best friend left me… my boyfriend broke up with me.

Life got hard and something in my head told me to go to the bathroom and throw up my food.

The rush it gave me became a staple stress reliever.

Prior to checking into rehab I was already underweight.

In my head writing it off as “not being hungry” or “forgetting to eat”.

Whenever I did consume food, the stressful situation at home would almost always result in purging.

It didn’t really get out of control until everything got out of control.

Subconsciously I was becoming addicted to this relationship with food.

The feeling of my skin tightening around my bones was like a high.

(*actual photo of myself three months after treatment*)

I was alone in rehab while my peers were working on their senior projects and letting out for Christmas break.

That Christmas was hard.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I just felt so unwanted, abandoned, and alone.

I was the only kid in the center that was there without a court order.

“What is going on???” filling the pages of my daily journal.

Life felt like a never ending nightmare.

At the time my brain could never understand that it was my actions that landed me here.

Instead, I spent over a month saturating myself in feelings of worthless shame.

It was a dark time….

Five weeks into rehab and I’d lost a significant amount of weight.

Every day looking more like a skeleton and less like a human.

Tightly fastening my size 0 jeans with a belt so they wouldn’t slide right off of me.

On New Years Eve we were offered a slice of pizza.

This was a real treat and I wanted to participate so badly.

Eventually accepting a piece and racing off to the bathroom immediately after.

This time one of the counselors had followed me.

I’d been caught.

There I sat in the office as the counselor called my mom.

Thankfully it appeared I’d be discharged early and finally able to go home.

Or so I thought…

Instead of my driveway we parked at an office building in the heart of Denver.

“Where are we?!?!”

I asked perplexed.

“You need to talk to someone about this food thing.”

The Eating Recovery Center would be my new home.

At intake the feelings of abandonment began to drown me.

“I don’t have an eating disorder!!!”

I pleaded.

“My mom just doesn’t want me so she’s trying to put me places!! Please!!”

It was time for my “moment of truth” on the scale.

My 5’11” frame weighed in at a whopping 102 pounds.

Considering how tall I am this put me at a BMI (body mass index) of 14.2.

If you are unfamiliar with BMI, 18.4 or lower is considered underweight.

In diagnosing anorexia nervosa they follow this chart:

Mild: A BMI of >17

Moderate: A BMI of 16-16.99

Severe: A BMI of 15-15.99

Extreme: A BMI >15

Nothing I could say or do could get me out of this situation with a BMI of 14.2.

Extreme like everything in my life seemed to be by that point.

At my height, I’d have to weigh in at a minimum of 133 pounds to make the lowest possible “healthy weight”.

That meant I’d have to gain at least 31 pounds before going home.

Suddenly out of every sense of control.

Mealtimes were spent with hands above the table.

The food was fairly good but there was A LOT of it.

Three massive meals AND three snacks a day.

If you didn’t finish every piece of your meal (including butter) in the time allotted then you had to drink a Boost nutritional drink.

Bathrooms remained locked and you needed to be accompanied by a staff member to use them.

On the bright side though, this center was a huge upgrade from the last.

We were able to keep the majority of our belongings.

Meals were prepared by chefs and served on silver platters.

We got to go outside for fresh air multiple times a day.

We could even turn off the lights at night.

I knew that if I didn’t cooperate, I was never going home.

The gig was up (at least for the time being).

Three and a half months later I completed treatment.

Today marks just over nine years since checking out of recovery.

In this time I’ve had more slip ups than I could possibly count, including an excessive exercise phase that deceived me for months.

(Exercise anorexia post coming soon❤️).

BUT I’ve had way more successes than failures and that is something that I’m extremely proud of.

CONTROL played a major role in my eating disorder.

Which is actually sort of crazy to think about because when I’m active in my eating disorder I am not in controlmy eating disorder is.

It’s so easy to forget this.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a lifelong process that requires daily maintenance.

It’s a process that I’m willing to work at!

My life is worth so much more than a number on a scale.❤️

If you are battling an eating disorder I encourage you to read this post ➡️ Meet Nikki, my eating disorder ❤️

Understanding Bulimia sheds a unique light on the complicated illness.

For more on addiction read Running 😊

Check out my blog for much, much more!❤️

⬇️😊⬇️

Project Identity

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Running

Burnette’s pink lemonade vodka was my drug of choice.

My painkiller.

Escaping is exhilarating…

So we run.

We escape.

The first time I got drunk I experienced feeling accepted for the first time in a long time.

Things got really hard when I started middle school.

Everybody hated me and I could never figure out why.

Constantly seeking out “imperfections” to correct so people would just be nice to me.

Alcohol and drugs filled that void when I couldn’t fill it myself.

So I chased it.

Associating my behavior with “just being a teenager”.

Normal teenagers don’t get DUI’s or spend months of their senior year in treatment though…

The emotional freedom I experienced while under the influence quickly developed into a need.

I needed to be accepted.

I couldn’t take another day, another minute, of this life in full strength.

It was miserable.

Draining.

Impossible.

“Running” became an obsession.

The deep seeded need to feel loved and accepted would eventually lead me to drugs and just about anything I could get my hands on.

Marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy.

All were used regularly by the age of 16.

I always told myself that meth and heroin were where I’d draw the line because they were “crackhead drugs”.

While I never tried either of them, I’m sure if the opportunity would have ever presented itself, I would have snagged it in an instant.

The escape was worth any consequence at that time.

I remember an instance when I couldn’t get anything but was so desperate to be numb that I attempted getting high by smoking oregano.

In case you were wondering, it didn’t work.

Today I’m happily clean and sober!

Read more on how I got here by clicking the link below ⬇️❤️😊❤️⬇️

My untraditional fairy tale❤️

Today I’m left only with the debris of my bad choices.

My PTSD is through the roof.

Traumatized by the person that I used to be.

What could I have done differently to avoid all of this?

Operating properly today because of preference.

I prefer calm.

I prefer safe.

But I can’t say that the “safety net” I have today applied to my 14 year old self.

I didn’t feel safe then.

Middle and high school were a living hell for me.

Every day waking up with a pit in my stomach knowing I’d have to deal with people and the evil that they threw at me.

That pain was only temporary and I am safe now.

While it may have seemed like too long to hang on at times… I survived.

I don’t think I would enjoy life the way I do today if I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through.

If you’re running on empty right now because of bullying or addiction,

Please take the following letter to heart.

…This could be you too.❤️

Dear 14 year old self-

Things will be okay.

Eventually.

They are going to get worse before they get better.

A lot worse.

Hang on.

Remember that you control how this story ends.

Never rely on other people for happiness.

Learn to love yourself and one day you will have the world in your hands.

A beautiful family.

A husband who loves you.

Invaluable knowledge and strength.

A story that could potentially change lives.

❤️

This situation is temporary.

Don’t fight it!

Embrace it to the best of your ability.

Know that it’s worth the wait.

The ones who are ripping you to shreds will go through their own loneliness while you prosper.

Forgive them.

Pray for them.

One day you may even help them.

Two wrongs never make a right.

Be the energy you would like to attract even in the times you aren’t seeing results.

God won’t ever give you more than you can handle.

These years are a “boot camp” for the path you will lead someday.

As terrible as this very moment feels right now, it will all be worth it.

Your adversity is God’s opportunity 🌪🌪🌪🌈

The harder the training, the greater the “role” in God’s plan.

Unfortunately for now, you’ll have to wait it out.

Don’t give up.

There is a Man upstairs watching over you.

I love you.

Hang in there❤️

What is God training YOU for?!

Channel your adversity❤️

Follow my blog for more! 😊❤️😊

Project Identity

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