1. Title
mystepahead.com

Helping you stay one step ahead on your journey

  "You only have to be one step ahead to help the person behind you." 
 
My Next Step – My Story

All of us have a story, and it's what we do with that story that makes a difference. As I ponder what to share I have had to work through some things. In the course of that process I was continually brought back to the reason for this website: to help the person behind me on this recovery journey. I had to battle through shame and fear and some what ifs....not everyone in my family knows some of what I plan to share. What if.....you know how it goes. But I have to. More than that, I want to. I have nothing of which to be ashamed in my story and by putting it out there I am taking the next step on my journey, for each time I share it I own it a little more. It's my story and I want to own it so it doesn't own me anymore. Because that's what shame does – it lets our stories own us instead of us owning it. So right here, right now, that changes in my life. Two years ago I sat across from my counselor and said in a yearning and almost hopeless voice, “I just want to be authentic.” So that's what you're gonna get...me.

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My story does not define me. It explains me but it is not the sole descriptor of me, simply because my story is still being written. It has taken quite a while for me to start to embrace my story – my whole story, not just my ED story. I
have had to acknowledge and accept some hard parts of my story that I have always downplayed. As
I work through it all I can now look back and say the constant downplaying of traumatic events is part
of my ED. It's one way the ED stays hidden, and now that I know that part, it makes it a little easier to
make the decision to share my story because I know I'm fighting when I share it.

To start with, I am a childhood rape survivor. I was raped by a classmate when I was in first grade (age 7)
but didn't tell anyone until my senior year of college (age 22). I didn't even tell my parents until the last
10-15 years and I don't think some of my siblings know. It's just not something one readily shares.

For the longest time I let the rape define me. It's only been the last couple years I have called it what it was: rape. And it's only been that same time frame where I no longer blame myself. I remember my counselor giving me homework one week to look in the mirror 10x a day for a week and verbally tell myself 'The rape was not my fault.' I've been suicidal twice. I had a short dabbling with                                          cutting but even then I said I was 'making a mark' and not cutting. Yeah. Right. Mom and I were in a major auto                                        accident (70 mph force collision) that left her mildly disabled and I care for her. My brother was incarcerated for                                       18 months for a drunk driving accident for which he took responsibility. My dad and brother are both recovering                                       alcoholics. I was on my way to becoming one but got that turned around before it got out of hand. And I have an                                       eating disorder. Addiction runs in our family. For others it took the form of alcohol; for me it shows in avoiding                                         food. And...Mom and Dad divorced in 1992 after 34 years of marriage.

                                      That's the list of what has happened to me in my life. Any ONE of those things would be more than enough for a                                       person to deal with and for some reason the Lord has allowed all of that in my life, and more. For the longest                                             time I used to scratch my head and be angry that God would let all that crap (and more) come into my life. Now I                                       realize it's a huge responsibility. I am NOT saying I am responsible for what others have done to me. I AM saying                                       now I am responsible for what I do with it and how I let God use it. THAT is what makes a story powerful.

                                      My eating disorder started in college but I didn't recognize it that way. The paranoia in my mind convinced me that by sitting alone in the cafeteria from lack of friends that others were drawn to watch me, and even if I was hungry and wanted more to eat the paralyzing thought of others looking at me caused stress and panic to the point I quit eating and left. I learned how to shut off my hunger in college. And when I got hungry after the cafeteria I just snacked. I curbed the hunger. For years after college I just told people I was a picky eater or wasn't hungry. I lied. Eating Disorders do that to you. It has only been this past year (Spring 2016) where I started to call it for what it is: an eating disorder. For someone who has been in and out of counseling since college that probably sounds weird, but no one else ever focused on the eating part of things.

My story has started to come to life in the last 2 years, mostly thanks to God working
through a retreat program with an organization called Walking Stick retreats. There is
more on this on the Ragamuffin Central page but just briefly I will say the retreat program
has helped me let go of my emotional chains. All those things we hear in recovery about
letting go, making peace, and taking a step in the right direction have come to life through
the retreats. My life has changed (I rarely use that phrase) and I have found myself
propelled forward as a result. Eight months ago I was still battling my counselor in naming
my eating as an eating disorder and needing a dietician. Now I'm writing my first book to
share my story, and I'm sharing my story openly on a website I'm creating and running! I
joke that while I'm still trying to write a chapter about the past God is already writing my
life story's next chapter and I'm just trying to keep up!

                                                      I am not fully at peace with my story. I get impatient. I get angry. And I get tired. It's the same way with                                                         recovery. I've lately been trying to wrap my head around what the word 'recovery' means and what it                                                           looks like. I don't have all those answers yet. I know it's not a destination as much as it is a way of life                                                           but I can't envision what it would look like. I'm far from having that figured out, but as my website says,                                                       I only need to be one step ahead to help the person behind me. So that's all I want to do. My goal in                                                               sharing all this is that you will hopefully get a sense that I 'get it' and understand the struggle is VERY                                                           real. I also want you to see hope. No matter WHAT has happened in your life THERE IS HOPE! That is the                                                       single most important thing I want to share through my story. I have gone through a lot. And I'm still                                                             here, and I 'get it' because I'm still fighting, too. My hope is that through this site we can get to know                                                             each other a bit more so we can help each other and the person behind us take their 'next step.' I                                                                   welcome your comments. Email me at mystepahead1@gmail.com . I look forward to hearing from you.
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