Our ‘She Believed She Could series shares stories of others who have believed in themselves and then succeed to grow. Here is one amazing story:
On the night of my 18th birthday, I made the decision to medically discharge from college before I even started, in order to focus solely on conquering my demons.
At that specific point in time, I had been in treatment for an eating disorder and accompanying addictions full-time for 2 months. I didn’t want to forgo another opportunity due to my health but I knew that if I gave up treatment to go to college right then, I might not make it to second semester.
I fielded calls from friends on move-in day, and dodged questions about where I was and how I was spending my time.
I remember looking around the main room in the facility thinking ‘this is what my life has come to”.
And wasn’t college and moving out with friends or meeting cute boys; it was waking up every morning to breakfast with 10 other girls, hours of group therapy, music therapy, DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), and staring at pizza, begging it not to hurt me.
The main reasoning behind putting off college was simple: even when I didn’t feel like fighting, I still showed up for my therapy sessions, doctor appointments, and all of the meals, day after day. As rough as it was, and as much as I swore I wanted to give up, the smallest part of me wanted to fight and get to the other side. And sometimes all you need is the smallest flame to burn bright enough to keep you from giving up.
Believing in Myself
Once I decided to discharge myself from college, I knew I needed to really put the work in and believe in myself. Each and every day after that I worked my butt off in treatment. I finished my meals (sometimes taking 90 minutes to get through them), spoke up when I have having difficulties, and even enrolled in an online certification course (we had three hours of schooling a day and, since I had graduated high school, I needed something to fill my time “other than coloring and writing songs”). You don’t see sitting all day and speaking as strenuous, but shedding light on the demons and slowly taking away their power was the most exhausted I had ever been.
I held on to the good days to get through the rough days, and learned to stop keeping secrets from those closest to me. Addiction feeds on secrecy, and taking away that power was the first step in finding freedom.
On October 24th, 2011, I celebrated my last day in treatment. Something I didn’t think was even possible, let alone possible for ME!
I spent the week after treatment traveling to Arizona State, the school I originally planned to attend before I entered treatment. However, after falling in love with the campus, I made another decision to remain in Minnesota and attend community college there. It gave me the opportunity to still go to my doctor appointments and be around my family, who had become massive anchors in my recovery.
It was three years before I finally graduated with my Associate’s degree. I went from barely graduating high school (pretty sure they were just sick of me skipping class) to graduating college and securing a full-time big girl job.
The feeling of successfully completing treatment and coming out stronger on the other side is unbelievable. They say no one can make you recovery, and they’re right. If you are in recovery, YOU did that; YOU fought the war and you won, because some part of you, at all times, believed that you could.
I graduated with my Associate’s degree three years ago and, whenever I look back and start to regret not having a normal college experience, I remind myself that I had the experience I needed to get to where I am today. If I would have gone away to college, I may not have the connection with my family I do, I may not have my husband and, worst of all, I may not have my health and state of mind that I am so blessed to have.
You don’t need to take the path everyone expects you to take. How boring would that be anyway? No one wants to sit around and talk about the same life story. It is about finding your self-love journey and owning it.
Your path is yours, and you’ve made it this far, which means you’re capable of making it through every rough day that will come your way.
I believed in myself a different way back then than I do now. Back then, it was about believing that I could survive.
Now, it’s about believing that I can live, and live beautifully and positively.
It’s about believing that everything happens for a reason, and you are always and forever exactly where you are meant to be.