RheasOfHope

one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

When you take an unintended break from writing October 3, 2016

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Hello, long time so see…or write…or post…or anything. I have always had this little blog in the back of my mind, and kept finding reason after reason (read: excuses) not to write. Perhaps my biggest distraction from writing is this little bundle of awesome.

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Leah Jane was born at 3:21 PM on September 11, 2015.                                 This is the photo I took of her celebrating her first birthday.

 

My little sister gave this world the smartest, funniest, cutest, and biggest troublemaking baby last September, and I’ve spent all my time in awe of this astounding little human. I want Leah Jane to know she can be herself. As part of my homework for the Body Project training (post forthcoming), wrote her a letter that I would like to share here–because it is my blog and I can do what I want:

 

Dear Leah,

Let me start off by saying this: YOU ARE WORTHY. People will attempt to convince you that you will not be worthy until you are a certain weight, until you wear designer clothing, until you can apply the perfect cat eye eyeliner, until you date the quarterback, until you get a 4.0…until, until, until. Worthiness does not have a prerequisite; though the world will do everything in its power in an endeavor to convince you otherwise. You must know, Leah, that the world is wrong.Worthiness is innate–not something you have to jostle and surrender yourself to obtain.

When the world seeks to mold you to fit their idea of worthiness–their narrow and impossible view of perfection–you sacrifice all the amazing  attributes that make you unique and loved. We do not gain worthiness by conforming to the ways of others–we lose it. Each time we strive to achieve the trivial and fleeting definition of worthiness, we give up a piece of what makes us extraordinary. Walt Disney once wrote, “The more you are like yourself–the less you are like anyone else–which makes you unique. The problem with most people is that they spend their lives trying to emulate others and so we have lots of copies but few originals.” My wish for you is to be unapologetically Leah. You will gain worthiness each time you stand up for who you really are, each time you’re your authentic self in the face of adversity, and each time you hold true to your values.

You may wonder, dear heart, what qualifies me to write this. After all, what would your aunt know about the worthiness inherent in being yourself? I have also face the pressures to conform to society’s narrow definition of worthy and beauty, and subsequently sacrificed many aspects of my life to achieve it. I want more for you, Leah. I want you to believe your worth, and to live your life in such a way that your genuine self radiates to all you meet. Know that I am here for you always, and will support you continually.

I love you to the ends of the earth and everywhere in between,

Auntie Rhea

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Another photo I took of my sweet girl for her birthday photoshoot

 

Romans 12:1-21

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

 

When you gather seashells April 7, 2014

“Here’s a good one!” my sister exclaims as she bends down into the gulf water and pulls out a glistening white shell with purple streaks.

 

“But it is broken. Throw it back. We don’t want that one” I reply.

 

“No, look at the swirl pattern on the top. It’s really cool looking. I’m keeping it so I can use that pattern in my ceramics glaze.” she retorts as she gingerly places the broken shell in my shoe (our make-shift shell carrier).

 

This exchange got me thinking…what makes a shell a “good” shell; a shell worthy of toting 1,000 miles back to Cincinnati? Does it need to be fully intact, or is broken still beautiful? Does it have to be all one color, or can it be multi-hued? Does it have to be smooth, or can it have ridges? As it turns out, there are a lot of snap judgments being made about each shell as I carefully bend over to examine its worthiness to be extracted from the ocean and placed in my Toms.  This immediately led me to think about my recovery; as that has been a major concern on my mind lately.  The question, “What makes a shell worthy” became, “What makes a person worthy”. Is it their fully intact-ness, or is it their brokenness that makes them worthy? Does perfection make them worthy, or can they show flaws? Again, snap judgments come into play as we deem worthiness in ourselves.

 

To our eating disorders, worthiness is very clearly spelled out: one can only be worthy if they listen to exactly what the eating disorder tells them to do; worthiness is completely hingent upon following ED’s made up and completely nonsensical rules. Neither binging nor purging, neither restricting nor over-exercising, neither self-harm nor addiction can make a person worthy…despite what our eating disorder will try to tell us. Worthiness is found in one’s character and actions, not in their ability to excel in an eating disorder or other addiction. Worthiness is found in the size of one’s heart, not in the size of their jeans. Worthiness is found in one’s ability to care for themselves as much as they care for others, not in caring for others over themselves.  Worthiness is found in one’s ability to love themselves so much that they choose to ignore ED’s constant berating remarks. Worthiness is found in recovery. Worthiness is found in living a life in which our actions, our character and our heart show that we believe that we are worthy of a life without ED.  At first ED will tell us that we are completely unworthy for not following her every whim. However, as we break away from her choke hold, we will see other qualities in ourselves that make us worthy of love, happiness and life. Because, let me tell you, we are ALL worthy of that no matter what ED tries to say.

 

What qualities and characteristics about yourself make you worthy? It can be anything from your ability to nurture others or nurturing yourself when you know you need it. Your worthiness can be something like being a very good scheduler to something like being a wonderful listener. Worthiness, however, can only be found in recovery; worthiness is never found in ED.

 

Some of my sister's numerous shells

Some of my sister’s numerous shells

Zephaniah 3:15 and 17

The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”