Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Life With An Eating Disorder: Beautiful For Me

If you're playing catch up this week click here and here

Today I am honored to have Alexis Kennedy share with us. Alexis and her family actually lived in my same city and attended church with us, before moving several years ago. I haven't talked to her in quite some time, and then God crossed our path again through the blogsphere. I love how blogging reconnects people. And I love how cool God is. Have I said that before?

Grab a tissue. You will need one, or several, to make it through this post and the video at the end. 

. . .

“For so long now, I have put on a happy face, pretending that things aren’t falling apart on the inside. I walk around with a smile on my face so that others don’t know how I really feel. I don’t want to worry anybody, and I definitely don’t want anyone to think I’m a head case. But I’m tired. Tired of pretending.  Tired of trying to be something I’m not…happy.”

This was taken from my sister’s blog where, for a while, she would blog about her experiences and struggles with her eating disorder. I had known for a long time that something was consuming my sister, but it wasn’t until our Dad died in 1999 that I got a glimpse into her struggles. I vividly remember the day of my Dad’s funeral. I had walked by the bathroom in my parent’s house and heard my sister throwing up. I asked her if she was okay, but she denied throwing up and stated that she was “fine”. I didn’t really think much of it until she had her tonsils removed soon after. She had to be admitted back into the hospital due to unexpected bleeding, because she refused to drink the protein shakes they wanted her to in order to heal properly. It was that day in the hospital that my sister told us that she was bulimic.

Bulimia. I hate that word. Hate it so much that it makes me sick to my stomach and want to scream at the top of my lungs. Hate it because it has taken so much from my sister’s life…her identity and her zest for life…for so many years. There is nothing worse than watching someone you love struggle to love themselves.

Fast forward a few years…my sister had become pretty sick, and decided to check herself into an eating disorder treatment center. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her to do that, but, for the first time, I felt relieved. I felt like I could stop holding my breath and relax because I knew she was being taken care of by people who understood this terrible disease. My mom and I attended weekly group sessions while she was in treatment, and I’m pretty sure this was the hardest thing I have ever had to do! You see, my family never liked to talk about our feelings or the “bad” things going on in our lives…we just kept it all inside, and put a smile on our faces as if nothing was wrong. Therapy brought out all of the struggles, resentments, and fears that we had all held deep inside for so long. It was mentally draining…but healing at the same time. It was during these sessions that I saw, for the first time, just how destructive bulimia had been to my sister…both physically and mentally.
Therapy ended and my sister looked the best she had in years! She was genuinely happy and looked healthy. However, I think this was the hardest time for me. I didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how to act, and didn’t know how to not “cross the line”. It was as if I was walking on egg shells every day.  They told us in therapy what things we ought to say and what we shouldn’t say. I was so afraid of messing up and causing her to slip back into her old ways…

However, about a year ago, I started to see my sister slowing fading away again. In therapy they also told us that this would happen…that people with eating disorders will have relapses and that we need to support them the best way we can. This is so hard for me to do! I feel so helpless and scared. I look at her and I see how sad and “distant” she is, and I don’t know how to “fix” it. I feel angry inside. Angry that her eating disorder is winning again…and angry at her for letting it win. I want to fix her problems and take them away…but I know I can’t; only God can heal her.
My hope is that one day my sister will see how beautiful she is, both inside and out. That she will wake up every day and think “I love my life” and “I love the person I am”. I hope there comes a day when I don’t worry that this disease will take her life. I pray every day that she will look to God for answers…that she will know she is never alone in this long, hard battle. I love her so much.

I will leave you with the lyrics to a song, by Nichole Nordeman, called “Beautiful For Me”. The first time I heard this song, I immediately thought of my sister. I hope the song will touch your heart like it did mine…

Every girl young and old has to face her own reflection
Twirl around, stare it down
What's the mirror gonna say
With some luck, you'll measure up
But you might not hold a candle to the rest
"Is that your best?" says the mirror to the mess
But there's a whisper in the noise
Can you hear a little voice
and he says

Has anybody told you you're beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
'Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me
If it's true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder
What my life and what's inside to give him something to behold
I want a heart that's captivating
I wanna hear my Father say

Has anybody told you you're beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
'Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me
Close your eyes
Look inside
Let me see the you that you've been trying to hide
Long ago, I made you so very beautiful
So I ought to know you're beautiful

Has anybody told you you're beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
'Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful
You're so beautiful
Beautiful for me
So beautiful for me
Has anybody told you?


  1. I am reading this with tears rolling down my cheeks.. Thank you for writing this. It is beautiful and profound. And the song is amazing.

  2. Another great story and such powerful words in that song. I definitely am crying now after reading that.

  3. Great posts, life with an eating disorder is extremely hard. Those of us in recovery find out that many parents and family members of addicts ( bulimia is an addiction I believe) die before the addict does from stress and worry. Celebrate Recovery is a great Christ centered 12 step group that is around the world. It is for everyone with a hurt, habit or hang-up. Many of us in CR came to help our family and realized that we needed to stay for our own issues. Some of the best support you can give your sister is to go with her to recovery programs. And Pray for her. It is a battle that she will have to fight, but with God she can win!

    1. I agree, Teresa. CR is an amazing program. We have one at our church and while I have never been, I have heard wonderful stories of hope and healing!


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