Topic Tuesday: Faith

“Some Thoughts About Reaching Out” (By: Maddy Hinchliffe)

It took five years of having an all-out war with mom till we were finally able to sit comfortably alongside each other and discuss the damage my eating disorder had done to me and to the people who had to watch me fall so far away from myself during those years. I knew it amid my ED just how self this problem was, how completely and utterly entwined in myself I had become, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized how much I had missed happening around me. I was so busy hating myself and assuming everyone around me hated me that much too that I didn’t see how much love the people in my life were giving me.

My parents have been divorced for most of my life and my dad couldn’t begin to even think about what was going wrong and why his child just couldn’t eat anymore. My mom was emotionally in this alone, trying to navigate the right way to fix all the broken parts of me. I hated the idea of her confiding in a friend what was happening to me because of the shame we all know too well. Because of that, I never knew she had told a close friend about me being admitted into a psych hospital and what exactly had been taking place over the many months before this. Both my mom and this friend are very religious women. My mom is absolutely lovely – she is my ultimate confidant in this world. If I have no one else, I know I have her. But I have always felt there was an undeniable light about this friend of hers. They are both beautiful, honorable women of God, but I truly mean it when I say you can feel the love of God in this woman. This friend, Rhonda, has a passion for mission work and has traveled to Africa multiple times and grown close to the women she’s met there and has found real friends in these ladies. On one of her trips, around the time I was 16, at the peak of my chaos, she went to Africa. There was a time the women were in a group together praying as they did usually, and Rhonda mentioned her friend at home and her daughter who was in a great deal of pain. What next? They held hands and they prayed for me, for my heart, for me to find my way out. Women who had the odds stacked against them, living in a place nowhere near as privileged as my home here, who’ve seen things no one should see, were praying for me. I never knew this till my mom told me a few months ago – 3 years after the fact.

I didn’t wake up all better after that prayer, I wasn’t healed yet. There were years of things to undue before I found my peace. But there was a day that a switch flipped – it suddenly wasn’t the most important thing to be thin. I had done it all before this point. Therapy, meds, groups, hospitals, psych wards, dieticians, DBT, everything but a residential facility which we weren’t able to do. So when I say I was feeling desperate, I don’t say that lightly. I was desperate. And, perhaps literally by the grace of God, I started to see things as they are for the first time in a long time. I had hit my bottom and it was time to go up.

My message to you today is this: 1. There is strength in numbers. Don’t ever be ashamed to ask for a little help. It was beautiful that those women cared about me. I think as women we have a hard time loving our fellow sister and seeing her as a sister rather than a competitor. We always need more of that. And 2. When life knocks you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray. No faith is perfect, it doesn’t always make sense, you may have never felt like there was something beyond us working here, but there’s always something more. Even if it’s just karma and energy and the recycling of this form of energy to another, there is something higher than us that we must remember we can fall back on.

Disclaimer: I am not here in the name of any one God or another. Your journey towards finding a higher power is yours and yours alone. This is simply a part of my story that I wish to share with all of you.

About the Author

Madelaine H. is a year and a half sober of her eating disorder. She enjoys writing, reading, taking care of her animals, and spending time with her loved ones. She will be starting college in the fall of 2017 for a B.A. in Psychology with a focus in substance abuse. She is 19 years of age and resides in Nashville, TN.