I know I’ve talked about fighting my darkness before, but a few nights ago I faced it with a ferocity I haven’t felt in years. My inner voice was screaming lies at me and I was battling to block it out — and I felt like I was failing. Let me let you in on a piece of my past…
I was a dancer and gymnast growing up and by the time I hit high school, I was in the full throws of battling an eating disorder. I managed my image and weight through a very real war with anorexia. I would skip meals often and exercise for hours in my dance classes and teaching at the studio. Perceived body image dysmorphia is an intense thing, let me tell you. I fought back and thought I was overcoming the war my senior year of high school, with the help of a few of my closest friends. Then, I went to college and suddenly wasn’t in the dance studio for 4-6 hours a day, and the dreaded Freshman 15 (or 25) was looming. I plunged right back into my horrific head space of not wanting to eat, and added in the element of making myself sick to manage some of the fight.
My sophomore year, I met another girl who had been through the same fight, and together we started a study called “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore. I also started seeing a counselor that was offered through one of the departments at my university. Through therapy and that life-changing study, I finally conquered this strong-hold in my life and was walking in truth and health for the first time in years. And, while I had been tempted to return to this darkness in varying seasons in my life, I hadn’t ever plunged back into it — only by the grace of God.
Ultimately, my struggle with the eating disorder was a desire for me to control things in my life. I’m an 8 on the enneagram chart, and if you know anything about us 8’s it’s that we hate being out of control. When we are unhealthy, that’s the first thing we grapple for.
Well, if you could glimpse into my journey for the past few years, you would know that control is the very last thing happening here. My world was turned upside down and I have had to abandon the ideal that I can actually control anything. That, in and of itself, has been a healing journey for me, and it’s been stretching and GOOD. But a few nights ago, I found myself texting some of my inner circle in desperation as I stood in my bathroom trying to talk myself out of making myself sick.
The darkness felt intense. The lies of “look how ugly you are,” and “you’re not measuring up,” and “look at all you’ve lost” were oh so very loud. I literally had to walk out my front door into the cold to reset. And, thanks be to God truly… I didn’t make myself sick, but I was shattered by the weight I felt in that moment and the ease of the darkness and temptation that had crept back in.
But, as I reminded myself and was affirmed by several of my people, it’s okay to not be okay. And that’s evidence of growth in my life, too. The darkness can seep in during these moments, but you know what? The light will ALWAYS outshine the dark. Even the slimmest slivers of light pierce the storm and the dark, and it is impossible for the dark to prevail in the presence of light.
I was reminded of how this was illustrated beautifully on my drive home from work the day prior. It had been a truly disgusting day with dark skies, rain and wind, and cold temps draping the day. But, as I drove to pick up my children from their after-school program, the sky erupted in a blaze of orange and pink as the sun fought for its last positioning before setting for the evening. It went from darkness to light piercing the gray and I felt it to my core as I drove in the dreariness.
As I fought my own darkness a day later, I reflected on the sunbeams that burst through the rainstorm. It only took one burst of light to change an entire sky. So, in my dark moments, I’m going to keep leaning into the light in my life. My faith, my family, my friends… all the goodness and blessings I’ve been granted in this journey. Here’s to finding the sunbeam moments in the midst of the rainstorms.