There I was, a sobbing mess thrown across my bed. My head was in my hands, and my fingernails were all different shades of pink; they blended in well with my splotchy wet face as I questioned if I even mattered at all. My hands were shaking as I moved the small pieces of hair around my face that had fallen out of a ponytail. Whimpers were jumbled up with the thought of how numb my last four months had been. My mind had been on a never-ending loop of thoughts no human should have to think about themselves, over and over, again and again.
“Are you really going to eat that, Madeline?”… “If you take a bite, you have to count to 30 before you take another one.”…“You are so unbelievably ugly, just don’t even try to tell yourself that you are or ever will be anything else.”
I brought myself to sit up, then out of the corner of my tear- soaked eye, I saw my Bible sitting on my bed. I did not remember why it was there in the first place, but I knew I needed to pick it up. My heavy hands touched the cloth cover that was blanketed with vines of blue leaves. The vines were tangled together, overlapping each other to create a solace pattern. As I lifted the book and placed it in my lap, an unfamiliar feeling covered me, a feeling of comfort, warmth, and help. I did not know what I was doing, or why I was doing it, but I opened the vine-covered book. I flipped to a random page of coincidence, and there it was. Staring right at my broken soul. I could feel my heart, soul, and mind being mended back together by the warmth that covered me, slowly, as I read the words on the stray page my heart had flipped to.
“…Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body is more than clothing.” (Luke 12: 22- 23)
Wow. As I was staring at the page, my tears instantly turned from sad and confused to happy and understood. All the days that felt like years. All the sleepless nights. All the stuffy nosed school days. All the times I lied,
“Yes, I’m fine.”
All my silent screams for help were recognized. Finally.
“Mom! Come here fast!”
My voice was shaky with a confused reassurance. I was wiping my tears, still flowing down my face, as she ran in my room. The vines that were hung up on my wall blew in the wind that her throwing the door open created.
“What is it?”
I could barely form the words, I mumbled the only ones that could escape my lips that were apple red and two times bigger than usual. That happens every time I cry, good cheap girl lip fillers I guess.
She rushed over to my bed. She was wearing black yoga pants and one of her favorite shirts. It is red and has a picture of Poe that reads, “I put the Lit in Literature”. She thinks it’s funny… Her dark brown hair was pulled up into a low bun, her caramel highlights barely visible under the low light of my room. She reached her hand out as I set the vine book in her perfectly manicured fingers.
My mom: she is my safe place. Out of everyone in the world, she is the only person I told about my fear of eating and self hatred. She knew it all, and as she read the words on the magic page, her bright green eyes lit up with a mixture of excitement and relief. I could see colossal tears forming in her eyes. Her soft face looked into my ocean eyes as she swiftly embraced me. I crumbled into her arms, my tears staining her shirt, leaving a puddle of brokenness, making her shoulder a darker shade of red. Her hands that had held my heart together for so long were brushing through my hair, still tangled from going on a run earlier that day.
“He is here, Madeline. He has always been here.”
Mom was not the only one I could feel holding me that night. I felt a soft warm hug as my brokenness was carefully put back together like a puzzle. Mom moved from my hair to my cheeks, holding my face in her hands. Her eyes looked into mine,
“I am so proud of how strong you are.”
She hugged me again then left the room, leaving me alone with all my tangled thoughts. Even though there wasn’t anyone else in my room with me, I felt like there was. There was. My mind shifted to all the things I love, making a mental list: sunsets, flowers, books, plants, pasta, shoes, rings, Jesus.
My face was nearly dry now; my cheeks were slowly becoming a lighter shade of pink. Everything suddenly made sense. Sunsets and flowers are both beautiful, yet they look nothing alike. I love shoes, but if they don’t fit, I don’t hate my feet for it. Why was my opinion of myself solely dependent on others opinion of me?
I walked to the bathroom and started the bath. The faucet hissed as the water started to come out. The mirror was right in front of me, and as I slowly lifted my heavy head I prepared myself for the thoughts to come. In my mind the mirror was my enemy. The mirror reminded me of how I did not measure up to what I wanted to be. It had also been a part of an unhealthy routine. Right when I woke up, I would take a video of myself in the mirror. I would turn, exposing all angles of my body that I hated the most, and I would save it until I took another one before my shower at the end of the day. I would lay down in bed and compare myself to myself. I would compare morning Madeline to bedtime Madeline. I hated bedtime Madeline the most.
My eyes met my stomach first: one of my least favorite parts about all of me. But this time, my train of thought took a nice detour. My stomach, that holds all my organs, keeps me healthy. My legs allow me to dance, to cheer, and to run. My arms let me hug my favorite people. My eyes will watch my dreams come true. My mind allows me to dream. My body. My body holds me up and lets me sit at my favorite rock and watch the sunset. My body gives me enough air in my lungs to sing my favorite songs in the car with all the windows down. My smile, my ears, my toes, my nose. My body.
I am at school right now. I am wearing a yellow shirt and jeans with butterflies on them. On my left hand, there is a ring that weighs my pointer finger down a little more than the others. The ring reads
On my left hand there is a constant reminder of how far I have come since that night. I still get tangled up sometimes, but I am at school right now, looking at my victory ring, and the only thing I am is proud of myself.