I have been mentally debating the idea of writing this post for some time, and after chatting with a few other bloggers who have had similar hard times in their lives, I felt like I should. I wrote a little about my story almost 2 years ago, and at the time I had less than 100 followers. However I still received emails from people who appreciated what I had done in talking. I firmly believe that when we open up and talk about the skeletons in our closets, we connect with people who are possibly living in shame, trying to stuff all the bones back into the closet, slamming the door on them forever. In writing this story today, I am hoping that I will get through to at least one person, and let you know, you are NOT alone and you have nothing of which to be ashamed. If I get through to one person and make just one person aware that their life can be better, then I have made a difference and my story has been worth it.
I went to a small university, the type of place where if you didn’t know everyone’s name, you at least knew their faces. It was predominantly greek. I was not in a sorority, but I had my group of friends and was happy there. My sophomore year, I went out one night with some of those friends. We walked to an off campus party. One of my friends (who lived in the room next to me) and I decided we were ready to go home. The boyfriend of another friend (she was more of an acquaintance to me) volunteered to walk us back. The three of us decided to order a pizza, because that’s what you do after you go out in college. My friend retreated to her room and I expected “him” to leave as well. He did not. I do not want to go into the details of what happened next, but I was raped. I was a virgin at the time. When I woke in the morning, I was confused, and scared, and not really sure of what happened. There was blood on my underwear, and I couldn’t get into the shower fast enough. I showered, threw away the underwear, and dressed myself in some pj’s and crawled into bed, hating myself.
I blamed myself for what had happened, and because he had a girlfriend who was an acquaintance of mine, I kept it to myself. Finally, a month later, I opened up to a friend, and she said the word I couldn’t. She said “rape”. I kept trying to tell her that it couldn’t be true. Conveniently that month the campus was holding a “speak-out” for rape awareness. She dragged me to it, and we sat in the dark chapel, lit only by candlelight. We heard several anonymous testimonials of rape victims. There was a story that I could have written. It was almost an exact account of what happened to me. At that moment, I was finally able to wrap my head around what had happened. I accepted the truth.
My friend convinced me that I needed to tell his girlfriend… she planned to marry him and had been with him since high school. She needed to know the truth. It took all the courage I could muster to pick up the phone and tell her my story. But I did it. And what happened next still baffles my mind. She requested me to meet her and him on a campus corner and repeat the story in front of him. He was the last person I wanted to see, but because I thought she deserved the truth, I went. I told her the story again, with him there. I looked into her eyes and told her everything. He looked at me with disgust, shaking his head the entire time. And she did the same, and told me she didn’t believe me. Finally, I looked at her and said, “If you aren’t going to believe me, and you think I would lie about something like this, then fine. You two deserve each other.” And I walked away.
At this point in time I had already pushed away several friends, and started to lose weight. After everyone knew what happened, I lost more friends. People would not look me in the eye. I never felt more isolated and alone in my life. Even the friends who had stood by me just before, now backed away from me. I felt like I was Hester Prynne, branded a horrible person.
I was so angry. I was so angry that this had happened in the first place. I was so angry that I had allowed it to happen. (I do no believe this now, but at the time I did). I was so angry at everything and everyone, and eventually all that anger lead to a numbness. It was easier to be numb to emotion. And with this numbness came deprivation as a coping mechanism.
I began starving myself, living off of coffee and apples. By the time I graduated college I was under 110 pounds. Currently, I weigh around 130 (I do not weigh myself so I don’t actually know) and am healthy and normal. I am 5’7″, so you can imagine that under 110 did not look good on me.
Well if you have had an eating disorder you know many things I am about to tell you. You know that it most likely evolved due to dealing with some greater issue… your life was spinning out of control, and you needed something to control. You know that no matter what you see in the mirror, it’s never good enough, never thin enough. So you keep on going… the more bones you can see the better. You can feel your bones, see them protruding, and it’s proof of existence.
Eating disorders can also destroy relationships. I have not mentioned my family, and I do not want you to think they were not there for me. They were there for me as much as they could be, though they were 14 hours away. But I did not make it easy on them. I pushed them away, and when I did speak to my mom, it was usually not very nice. I had not told them about the rape because I wanted to protect them. I didn’t want them to know they sent their baby girl to a school where they thought she would be safe, and they were wrong. I didn’t want to let them down, so rather than allowing that to happen, I built a wall.
But my mother knows me too well. It took her some time, but over a break of my senior year when I was home, it dawned on her. I had snapped at her for something, and she just asked me why I was so angry al the time. Why wasn’t I the sweet girl I had been? I recall seeing the thought hit her… and then she asked me. “Oh my God, Cassie, you were raped, weren’t you?” I couldn’t answer her because I started to cry. I felt so much shame- so much that I had pushed them away, instead of letting them be there for me. (And if you have been following me for some time, you know that now my mom and I are very close and she has stood by me. She also reads my blog- Thanks, Mom!)
Around this time is also when I started dating Chris. From the start, he loved me for who I was. He never made me feel like an outsider or isolated. He brought out the best in me again, and I started to feel alive again, and I had a desire to live life. It did not happen overnight, though. It was a long process. But I knew I wanted to spend my life with him, and I knew I wanted to be alive long enough to see that. I knew I wanted to have kids and be a good mother and be a healthy role model to them. I knew those things, but it was still a process.
Eating disorders are an addiction… And anyone who has ever had any addiction knows that you can’t just “quit”. It takes time and it takes a true desire. Even in the beginning of our marriage I still struggled, and faltered. It took me some time to become pregnant with Sawyer because I was not ovulating. I was petrified that I had ruined my chances of being a mother. After 3 rounds of fertility pills, I became pregnant, and that was Sawyer.
I knew that I wanted to be a healthy and wonderful and energetic mother, and I could not do that with an eating disorder. I have been much healthier since that stick showed two lines on it. But I am not going to lie- addictions are a never ending battle.. For the most part I am healthy, but of course now and again I have days that are not so good and I find myself wishing I had the willpower to just not eat. Those days are rare, but they still come up now and again. And in talking with other bloggers who have faced similar struggles, I have found they also feel the same way. I will never 100 percent be over it, but it comes down to coping mechanisms. And knowing that we are not alone helps so much, knowing there is always someone out there who can completely understand me helps. My bad days are few and far between at this point in my life, but I wanted to share my story to let those who have those bad days, too, even if they are much more frequent, know YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.
I cannot say that I am glad for all that I have gone through. I am not. I wish with all my heart that I had never been raped and that the eating disorder hadn’t followed. I also wish that I had not pushed my family away. But all that has happened in my life, has made me who I am today. I stay open with my children, and I plan to tell them this story when they are old enough to understand. It won’t be easy, but I want them to know so that they never have to go through any of the darkness that I went through. I am hoping that me going through it was enough for all of us. I am hoping that my kids always see how wonderful and beautiful they are, and never walk in shame or darkness.
That is my wish for my children, but also my wish for any of you reading this who might be struggling. What I love most about blogging is the love, friendship, and support. I know you all accept me for who I am; and in turn, I accept you for who you are. And most importantly today, I not only accept me for me, but when I look in the mirror I am pretty happy with the woman looking back at me. It’s taken me time to get here, but I am here. And I plan to stay.