I keep thinking back to last year, after the candlelight service at church, I was sitting downstairs watching some Christmas special with my family, writing a post reflecting on all of the growth that had taken place in my life that year. I wrote about being recovered, feeling valued and beautiful and loved and worthy. I wrote about being more than my past, about never being alone, about hope and healing. I wrote about my complete faith in an all-powerful, healing, restoring God.
And Christmas 2013 is no different.
Tonight, I sit alone in my room, thinking.
Thinking about how my life has changed in the past year and has put me in a position that I never once thought that I would be in. I dropped out of my first semester of my second year at college because I had a major relapse with my eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. I took medical withdrawals from all but one course, in which I’m taking an incomplete and hope to finish up soon. I’m taking the entire spring semester off from school. I’m spending at least four hours a day in different kinds of therapy groups, with different psychologists and psychiatrists and doctors and nutritionists, trying to learn how to completely accept and manage life with an eating disorder, with depression, and with anxiety, trying to learn how to manage my life with this illness.
I never once thought that my life would go back to this, not even all those days I spent in treatment in high school, when I was so excited to go to college so that I could fully engage in my disorder and no one would notice. I never once thought that things could get this bad again. I never once thought I would be in very intensive treatment again.
I never once thought that my life would do a complete 180 on me. But it has and that’s something that I’m just going to have to accept because even though I think that I've convinced myself that I've accepted this situation, I reach a moment where I get really pissed off about having been given these genes with this temperament and these personality traits and having been dealt this environment. And then I’m back at square one, trying to accept it all just one more time.
But it’s never just one more time.
Looking back on my post from last Christmas, I can’t help but be a bit judgmental about where I am now and thinking that I’m in a worse place now than I was then.
This Christmas Eve, I’m not thankful. I’m not filled with joy and hope and strength. I’m not feeling encouraged or blessed. This Christmas Eve, I am filled with anger and bitterness and resentment. I’m filled with depression and loneliness and insecurity. I’m filled with anxiety and distress and worry. I’m filled with shame and guilt and regret.
I’m filled with questions like “Why me?” and “Will this ever be over?” and “Will I ever feel and live a ‘normal’ life?” I’m questioning what my next steps are, where I stand with my relationships with everyone in my life, and how my faith fits into this. I’m filled with questions about what my life will look like next Christmas and the one after that.
And something that I've learned in the past five weeks of treatment is that all of this is okay. Having questions and doubts and emotions—it’s all okay. Even during Christmas, when the expectation is joy and peace and contentment. My emotions are real and I am allowed to feel them, even now. Even at Christmas.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that things change. People change. Lives change. And things don’t always go how you expect them to go. You don’t always end up where you want to in life. Sometimes the unexpected is exactly what happens and sometimes you take a giant leap backwards.
It’s life. And life doesn't stop for anyone.
Not even at Christmas.