Faith and Smiles

Recovery is not just a battle of getting better, it is a battle with myself to see myself as worth taking up space and the world being safe enough for me to take up space.

I do not talk much about my faith because it is a private thing. I am liberal; by that, I mean I respect all human rights, not just those of the conservative white upper class. I have had my fair share of being marginalized and that my story doesn’t matter and being told that I am an abomination. I smile and nod. A lot.

I do not like going to church because of the stigma attached to my diseases. Nothing beats hope out of a person like a church member telling you that you don’t believe in God and He is punishing you with Bipolar for your unbelief. Or that you are ungrateful for what you have because you have anorexia. My favorite was that my ovaries are malfunctioning and need to be operated on because God is punishing my lack of love for Him by prohibiting my having children, because I am really too selfish to have them anyway.

I believe in God. I wanted to be a minister or a missionary until I was sexually abused at 13. I prayed and thought God had abandoned me. I know He did not, but with my questions and my lack of adaptability to the Christian status quo, I abandoned my desire to aid others with the aid of a church. My goal has always been to help others and to shine the light of love into the world, especially when I have not felt it.

Lately, I have been an angry person and can barely stand myself. I have been depressed and my only solace comes in the books I read. I do not read my Bible every day, but I do pray every day. Yes, I cuss. I cuss like a British sailor. I am not demure; I am not perfect; I am not acquiescent. God gave me a sharp mind. He gave me an inquisitive mind. While I recognize the importance of blind faith, I don’t think that means that we need to marginalize others to make ourselves feel better.


I have tried really hard in my life to be nice. Lately, it has left me standing still. I have been honest about my life and my needs and I am getting bashed for them. I am more than my disease. I have bad days. Sometimes, like lately, I have really bad days. Lately, I hate men for their ability to make women feel like objects to be owned, or rescued. Both situations leave me feeling dirty.

So many people tell me that I am beautiful, that I have a great body, that I dress nice… Thanks. I like hearing those things. I like to hear that I have good qualities. When I am told that my current weight will attract a man and that being skinny turns men off… I am somewhat at a loss of what to say. In all honesty, it disgusts me.

Anorexia has nothing to do with pleasing a man. It is a matter of control and safety. I did not develop anorexia to be better looking. While that may be the case for some, that was not the case for me. I developed it because I wanted to be invisible. I wanted to be able to fit in my locker and not have to be seen by the pedophile that sought me out at school. The more people talk about how men love my body makes me think that is all that I am and that I will never be safe.

The bulimia got out of hand when I was in college after I was nearly raped in my dorm room. I was asked not to report it until the following fall when it would be counted in the early semester statistics. More money and awareness for the campus. My story was only important in what it would help others achieve. I marched for “Take back the night,” but never told my story because it was unimportant. I was unimportant.

I stopped caring for myself and seeing myself as worthwhile because others saw me as not worthy. Recovery is not just a battle of getting better, it is a battle with myself to see myself as worth taking up space and the world being safe enough for me to take up space.

So, when I see someone struggling with a sense of self and I know that I face that same struggle every day, I smile at them in love and show them graciousness. I may not be a religious person, but I know God loves us all and each of us is worthwhile. Each of us has a right to live in our own way, free of the judgements and ridicule of others, free of the desires that others have of us.

Author: Darlene Milam

So, a little bit about me. I am a coffee lover, animal lover, and book reader extraordinaire. Not really the extraordinaire part. I want to be the next great American novelist, or memoirist. I am recovering from anorexia and engaging in daily battles with managing mental illness and other physical health problems. I believe in the power of healing through writing and want to share my story so others know they are not alone. Please comment, ask questions, like, and enjoy reading.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s