I had been attending EDA meetings for a few months and while the support of a group was nice, it just wasn’t cutting it. I knew I desperately wanted to stop the shame cycle of binging and purging. I felt alone, hopeless and wanted to die. I had a spiritually irresponsible person in my life who told me over and over that “I wasn’t praying hard enough. If I really wanted Jesus to heal me, he would heal me instantly. I just needed to have faith in his healing powers.”

As a teen, my eating disorder started out as a way of controlling my weight, but it soon crossed over into the area of an unhealthy coping mechanism. Food became my go-to drug for dealing with all of my problems. With the purge, I confirmed the worst things I had ever thought of myself—I was in fact disgusting and unlovable.

My mom started looking online for a faith-based recovery program and I agreed to travel from Phoenix to Wickenburg to take a tour of The Meadows Ranch facility.

After seeing the grounds of the adult campus, we sat down at the table and I was told how much a 45-day stay at the ranch would cost. The figure seemed astronomical to a single, 27 year old, self employed hair stylist.

All my hopes of recovery went out the window. I guess this is just how I was going to be for the rest of my life. Then I was told they offered a scholarship program and I might be able to qualify. There was a glimmer of hope for me yet. A few days later, The Meadows Ranch called and told me what my final calculated number would be.

As it turned out during that same time frame, my parents got a notice they could refinance their home and could take out the exact amount for my stay, plus a bit extra for any financial obligations I would need help with during my stay.

When I checked in on December 26th, 2007, I remember being all over the board emotionally.

Maybe I didn’t really need to be here? Maybe I wasn’t as bad as I made out to be?

But the one who knew my heart and saw me when no one was around knew better. He knew he got me there at the exact time in my life when I needed. And the other women he put there, were not there accidentally either. Our lives had been on a collision course and those relationships helped me get through my darkest days.

As I approach my 9 year anniversary, I reflect on my road to remain in recovery. There have definitely been slips and disappointments. But I look at those and tell myself I am loved. Those mistakes do not define me. I have come so far from the person I was before The Meadows Ranch.

Now I am a wife, a mother and a stepmother. I wake up feeling like I have a responsibility, to live in recovery, for my family.

Recovery is a choice that I have to choose every day. I can finally say and also believe, I am loved and I am lovable. I am so very blessed to be alive. The heavy darkness I used to live in is a thing of the past.

What’s Your Story?

We want to give you a chance to share your story of learning to celebrate the beauty of your own unique body and soul.

Was there a major turning point in your eating disorder recovery where you finally accepted and appreciated your body? At what point did it happen, and what led you there? In what ways did it change your life?

Send a 500- 1000 word essay to [email protected] The first ten essays to be chosen for The Meadows Ranch blog will receive a free The Meadows Ranch blanket as a special gift!

Submit your essay by Jan. 15, 2017. We look forward to reading your incredible stories!