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So Worth Loving

From Excess to XS

Editor’s Note: 

Before reading this story, I would like to tell you that these words of a lovely soul are quite raw and more than real. This is heavier than any other post we have done, and so we don’t want to take it as lightly as others. Thank you for reading, and now onto Andrew: 

-SWL team

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I was killing myself, and I didn’t know it.  I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, and a skeleton stared back at me, but all I saw was the fat boy.Then everything went black. I fell against the bathroom sink. My legs felt weak, my vision blurred, and the blackouts were becoming more prevalent. I knew that I needed to do something, but I didn’t know how to stop. I had just wanted to lose weight—to be happy. And I didn’t know how desperately, until two dark, detrimental years later,when my six foot frame carried a mere 119 pounds, and I found myself angled over a toilet to relieve myself of that day’s last meal.

My whole life, I struggled with my weight. I was the goofy fat kid, with quick sarcastic comments, who always tried to make people laugh. I was even the first to make fun of my “fat” self, so that others would laugh with me and not at me. Most people never knew that the very thing I hated most about myself was my weight. I never liked “fat Andrew” because fat was not beautiful or acceptable. I wanted to look like a “normal” person.  I didn’t want to be defined by my weight.  I wanted people to see beyond the fat—to see me, but we live in a world that is so absorbed with perfection and beauty that we no longer see people

  • We promote a false image of beauty that devalues the individual.

 

Ironically, my story begins on February 14th 2011, Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love. I had a very close friend on whom I had secretly had a crush for many years. This particular Valentine’s Day, she was not dating anyone, and I wanted to ask her out, but I didn’t. I knew she could never see past the “Fat Andrew” I constantly saw in the mirror, and that devastated me. I felt worthless. So after years of lying in bed, late at night, thinking, I’ll start dieting tomorrow or I’ll start exercising this weekend, I promised myself things were going to be different this time.

The next day I started my diet and began running. I signed up for a membership at the local gym and went every day after work, but commitment slowly turned to compulsion. Weekdays were never enough, so I added weekends. Then, I started working out longer and eating much less. Eventually, several hours a day at the gym became my norm. I would not stop my workout until I had burned at least 1000+ calories, while eating half that amount. I became obsessed with counting calories, and food became my enemy.

In four months, I had lost 80 pounds. I had started at 240 with a goal of 180.  Now 20 pounds under my goal weight, I could still not shake the reflection of “fat Andrew” every time I looked in the mirror. The gym became my obsession. I would constantly push myself harder and further than my body could handle, while eating next to nothing. I hated myself. I daily pondered why I continued this torture. Why wasn’t I happy?  I was slim.  Girls noticed me. I looked great, but it was never enough.  I was terrified that the moment I stopped going to the gym, I would inflate to my previous size.  So I kept running.

While some people complimented me on my new look, many questioned my methods.  Talk of anorexia and bulimia invaded the conversation.  I ignored it until, one night, a close friend and co-worker, who I greatly respected, paid me a backhanded compliment. He said, “Dude you look great, I can’t believe the commitment you’ve had toward this whole process, but I have to ask… are you just throwing up?”  I had been dealing with this question on a daily basis for the past couple of months, and it infuriated me every time it came up.  I had worked hard to lose the weight, and people tossed all my dedication out the window when they asked this question. Why were my choices everyone else’s business, and why did they automatically assume the worst of me?  I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Did I portion control? Yes. Was I throwing up? NO.  I had never willingly discarded a meal.  I may have starved myself, at times, but vomiting was never in my playbook, until that night.

I laid in bed that evening frustrated. Why do people see me in this degrading way? Why can’t they see that I am striving for a goal, not just taking the easy way out?  After tossing and turning, and wrestling with my thoughts for what seemed like hours, it suddenly hit me.  The thought was not a new one.  It had always been there … waiting.  And now, from a dark place in the back of my mind, it crept forward.  A vile twisted idea that had lingered, patiently, in my subconscious, for months, until it knew I was ready.  Rising above wisdom and reason, it presented itself like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  I can eat whatever—whenever—and as much as I want.  Then I can just rid myself of it. I tried not to think about it, because I knew it was wrong, but the pull was too strong.  I had unlocked the door and the creature had emerged. There was no going back.

The following day at lunch, the idea consumed me, and I finally gave in to it.  I ate more in that one sitting than I had eaten, per day, for the past couple of months. Everyone at the table looked at me as if I had finally gone off the deep end. After I had cleaned my plate, I excused myself from the table and headed toward the restroom. I entered the last stall, waited for those inside the room to leave, and for the first time in my life, I willingly forced up my meal.

That one act turned into a 13-month habit that took a toll on my health and well-being. It started with simply eating normal meals and then excusing myself to the restroom, but it turned into something much darker, the roots of which took hold and, literally, began to strangle the life from me. I started binge eating. I ate everything in sight, because I knew I could rid myself of it moments later.  Everyday was the same routine.  Eat. Vomit.  Repeat. I was ashamed, and I hated myself, but I couldn’t stop. Eventually a wave of self-loathing crashed over me, and I was engulfed in depression.  Day after day, I retreated to my apartment, and sat alone, wishing I had never started losing weight. I became a hollow version of myself.  Then I turned to drinking.

Every day, after work, I would pack up my things, keep my head down, and walk to my car.  No smiles. No waves. No good-byes. I would go home, open the fridge, and grab one beer after another, until I felt nothing.  I had hit rock bottom, and I lay there for months. I could not hide what was happening, and I didn’t want people to think badly about me or lose respect for me, so I hid myself away. I lost touch with friends and family. I declined every social outing. I completely shut everyone out of my life.  No longer did I care to be the center of attention or make people laugh.  Gone was the life-of-the-party guy, and in his place stood a 120-pound ghost of a human, barely clinging to life. I fixed my gaze on my image in the mirror and didn’t recognize the vacant-eyed person staring back at me.

My reckless and reclusive behavior only furthered my health issues.  I barely slept. I had trouble using the restroom. My heart rate slowed dangerously.  It was a waking nightmare.  Then came the final straw.  After months of declining health, and several thousand dollars in various doctors’ bills later, two of my dental fillings fell out.  Only then did I realize I was in way over my head.  I had started this weight-loss journey with a promise.  Now, I made another.  I promised I would never make myself throw up again.  Losing weight was supposed to make me happy, but I was miserable.  It was supposed to make me worth people’s attention (especially girls).  Instead, I was isolated and lonely. 

I was supposed to like skinny Andrew, but I hated the new me, and I could not bear to see this mangled version of myself any longer.  This was the first step in battling my eating disorder—admitting I had a problem. 

Once I admitted my problem, the bigger battle began—learning to eat again.  What most people do, with ease, on a daily basis, was TORTURE for me.  It took every ounce of my being to eat a meal and willingly let it settle.  My stomach was not used to being full. It begged me to purge.  For weeks I struggled to not run to the restroom after a meal.  Some days, I prevailed.  Some days, I didn’t.  Eight months later, however, I am back to a healthy weight, and I am finally keeping my food down.  But this battle is not over.  Everyday, I have to make a conscious effort to not retreat back into my old ways, and it is something I can only hope will fade with time. 

I share this painful story because I would not wish my destruction on anyone.  It was a living hell. For those who may consider this path, I say, “It is not worth it!!”  It WILL destroy your life, if it does not end it first.  It will consume any happiness you have left.  I am not saying that you should not eat healthier, or you should never exercise. I am simply saying LOVE YOURSELF. My eating disorder did not begin with throwing up.  It began when I believed the lie that my self-worth came from my looks.  It increased when I exercised to excess, while starving myself, and it finally led to purging. Don’t listen to the inner voices of anorexia and bulimia. They will whisper that you cannot be happy until you are thin.  It is a lie from the pit of hell, and it took me going through this long, drawn-out, painful, mess to realize that truth.   

Love yourself for who you are. You are much, MUCH more valuable than you think.  Your gifts and talents have worth.  No one in this world can be you.  No one can do what you do.  No one will leave the footprint you will leave.  YOU matter.  Love yourself now, and avoid the greater pain that not loving you will inflict.  

I was lucky.  My heart didn’t stop, and my kidneys didn’t fail.  They could have.  They probably should have, but they didn’t.  Maybe that’s because I was supposed to be here to tell you my story—to tell you that you are so worth loving.

—Selah.

Written and loved on by Andrew Winchell 

We don’t want you to feel alone in this, because you aren’t alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out, and if you haven’t anyone to talk to, Andrew is willing to listen. Email him here: AndrewWinchell@me.com

P.S. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please, please, contact the National Eating Disorder help line: http://nedawareness.org/helpline or call: 1-800-931-2237

We love you. 

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EXCITING NEWS!

  

note from the founder:
[As you know our wonderful Micaela stepped down due to her roles in her new job. We were so sad to see her step down but so proud and excited for her and her future!! We will always be her cheerleaders!

After some time to think through things and see what was going to unfold for us, I am excited to introduce to you our newest family member + blog editor Karlye Hayes!]

note from our new blog editor:
Hello beautiful family! I’m Karlye. I am more than stoked about this new adventure with you guys!

So, I was told to give y’all a bit of a back story about my life. I have the physical capability of talking for hours so I’m just going to narrow down my stories to one specifically about So Worth Loving, and how it came into my life at the perfect time.

When I discovered So Worth Loving, I was going through a hardcore emotional healing process. While truly facing all of my struggles and overcoming them, hating myself was the hardest struggle to face.

I was very unhappy with my appearance and my distaste for myself grew into distaste for eating. Unfortunately my story isn’t very unique, but also that is more than fortunate! SWL helped me realize that.

It’s all about not only loving yourself, but also seeing that we are never alone. Knowing that we are not alone can help us relate to each other and produce true growth within ourselves and every path we walk through.

Since So Worth Loving came into my life, I bought more stuff than I probably should and went to any event I could go to. When I went to the Pre-Tour Party in Atlanta, that was when I knew that I wanted to do more than just watch other people make a difference with this amazing message. I wanted more than anything to be a part of this movement. It started with buying the merchandise, and now I’m talking to you via the SWL blog! Of course I still deal with this struggle, but each day, I am loving myself more and more.

Healing is a process, and I am so ecstatic to go through this process with all of you! Through this new journey we are taking, if you ever have questions about anything, don’t hesitate to ask! Just like talking to my grandmamma, we love talking to our family! Anyway, love you guys and can’t wait for the next post to bring us together again!!

You’re amazing,

Karlye


note from our team:
We wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. Our blog is so important. It’s why we exist; to bring community and empower others to know that they are NOT alone. You don’t have to be a pro at words and grammar to share your story. That is very important to us that you know that and don’t let it ever stop you from sharing yours with our community. You bring light to someone else tunnel. Can’t say it better. Interested in sharing your story? Email Karlye at : Submissions@SoWorthLoving.com

eryneddy:

[post from the archives]
I read these daily thoughts in a little book that is a compilation of women writers. Above is a quote from September 2. I found this “ironic” because it is exactly what I am going through. Learning to forgive.
While I am in the process of facing these things called insecurities, I am trying to forgive myself and those who have caused these annoying little guys to hang around. Some of the things I am working through are issues that have accumulated over 9 years. I have allowed them to settle in and make a home, though I didn’t even realize they were settling in until I started addressing my issues with fear & anxiety.
I thought I had handled all the sadness, bitterness, and self-consciousness that evolved from an unhealthy relationship. And while there is something with-in me that would love to just word vomit ALL OVER the person that has caused pain and let them know what they did was wrong and unjust, I know it wouldn’t do any good. When someone is set in there ways of not wanting to grow or to not take personal responsibility- it’s like talking to a wall. My words would go in one ear and out the other.
There are going to be people in your life that you will never satisfy. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO they will have their opinion and a quick tongue on who you are and what you are doing with your life. I’ve said this before and I will say it again because it’s something that is incredibly hard for me to live by, “I can’t change their perspective or response but I can control how I respond to it”. Forgiveness is not an emotion but an act of will.
I will not allow all the jabs, manipulation, and hurtful words control my emotions. It’s ok for me to be sad, and hurt but it’s not ok for it to settle and make a home. So I tell myself “I will not respond out of anger to those that have caused pain but out of grace.” THAT IS SO HARD but I know that if “I don’t master my emotions my emotions are going to master me.”  I dont want to sit around and let bitterness settle. That will affect other relationships that are so dear to me.
Who are you trying to forgive and what have you learned about yourself along the way?
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eryneddy:

[post from the archives]

I read these daily thoughts in a little book that is a compilation of women writers. Above is a quote from September 2. I found this “ironic” because it is exactly what I am going through. Learning to forgive.

While I am in the process of facing these things called insecurities, I am trying to forgive myself and those who have caused these annoying little guys to hang around. Some of the things I am working through are issues that have accumulated over 9 years. I have allowed them to settle in and make a home, though I didn’t even realize they were settling in until I started addressing my issues with fear & anxiety.

I thought I had handled all the sadness, bitterness, and self-consciousness that evolved from an unhealthy relationship. And while there is something with-in me that would love to just word vomit ALL OVER the person that has caused pain and let them know what they did was wrong and unjust, I know it wouldn’t do any good. When someone is set in there ways of not wanting to grow or to not take personal responsibility- it’s like talking to a wall. My words would go in one ear and out the other.

There are going to be people in your life that you will never satisfy. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO they will have their opinion and a quick tongue on who you are and what you are doing with your life. I’ve said this before and I will say it again because it’s something that is incredibly hard for me to live by, “I can’t change their perspective or response but I can control how I respond to it”. Forgiveness is not an emotion but an act of will.

I will not allow all the jabs, manipulation, and hurtful words control my emotions. It’s ok for me to be sad, and hurt but it’s not ok for it to settle and make a home. So I tell myself “I will not respond out of anger to those that have caused pain but out of grace.” THAT IS SO HARD but I know that if “I don’t master my emotions my emotions are going to master me.”  I dont want to sit around and let bitterness settle. That will affect other relationships that are so dear to me.

Who are you trying to forgive and what have you learned about yourself along the way?

Shout out to our lovely Kory for making this pretty wallpaper for our desktop and phone for the month of JANUARY!!!! CLICK HERE to download! (will download as a zip however if you want it right away double click on calendar and save it to your phone as image)

Quote by Michelle Plett in her latest blog post with us.

Dark Moments



"It’s still snowing? Ok, I’m gonna get the shoveling started because it looks like it’s ending soon." I said. Mar just looked at me and gave me a small smile that said "Thank you." 

It’s amazing to me how even the faintest light reflects off of snow, making it very easy to see at night. I grabbed the shovel and began slowly and methodically cleaning the first part of the driveway, closest to the garage. As I fell into rhythm, the thoughts of the past few days slipped into the back of my mind for the first time. 

The past two weeks have been hard. I guess losing someone you love dearly is not supposed to be easy. It was an unexpected. An unexpected moment in life. When these moments have happened in my life, I typically react in one of two ways. Either, I find myself paralyzed, unable to act, or I begin to fill my minutes with activity, running full steam until I’m out of breath. Here in the evening, in the rhythm of my shoveling, I did something different. I slowed down and I took a breath.

As I paused, I sat down on the newly fallen snow, breathing in and out. It was then the person I had lost came to me and was a whisper in the falling snow. Four simple words, “Take care of her.” For the first time in days, I began to cry. Really cry. I held it together for my children and wife in hope of providing strength where they had none. Now it was my turn.

What I realized as I lay there in the snow was that in these unexpected moments, in these darkest of days I am never alone. The whisper proved that to me. As I let this sink in, I began to think about how many of our friends came and supported us, and how many friends reached out to us just to let us know that they are here if we need them. 

This life brings so much joy and so much pain. If you find yourself in an unexpected moment, please know that you are not alone. WE are always here to share in your pain and provide strength and encouragement in the quiet moments.


Post by Andy Ryan

Why Not?!

We are doing a special giveaway this month! 

A book kit. Complete with a book, gummy worms, tinsel, and a handwritten note form our team!

TO WIN::

Follow us on Instagram and comment below with your email and we will pick randomly!

About The Book: Safe People

"Too many of us have invested ourselves into relationships that left us deeply wounded. We’ve been abandoned or taken advantage of, and left with little to show for what we’ve given. We’ve lost our sense of security and personal value in the process. And what’s worse, we tend to either repeat the same mistakes of judgment over and over … Or else lock the doors of our hearts entirely and throw away the key. Why do we choose the wrong people to get involved with? Is it possible to change? And if so, where does one begin? Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer solid guidance for making safe choices in relationships, from friendships to romance. They help identify the nurturing people we all need in our lives, as well as ones we need to learn to avoid. Safe People will help you to recognize 20 traits of relationally untrustworthy people. Discover what makes some people relationally safe, and how to avoid unhealthy entanglements. You’ll learn about things within yourself that jeopardize your relational security. And you’ll find out what to do and what not to do to develop a balanced, healthy approach to relationships."


A Year End | A New Year

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For once in many years I did not begin this year with an expectation. I did not plan, I did not set goals. 

After 2012, a year I wanted to leave behind, I decided, quietly, that this year I would give it all up and just live. For me, 2013 was a year that I would live without expectation. 

This was a major step.

This would be a year I would give myself the gift to just be okay with whatever life sent my way. This was a year I would give myself freedom. 
It’s difficult, even for a writer like me, to put into words what this meant; for it means so much more than not planning what I would wear the next day, or what job I would go back to in a year. For me, it would be a year which would allow me to love myself completely. It would be a year that daily I would make choices and be 100% okay with the outcome. It would be a year that I would live without regret. 

If I ate something that wasn’t so great for my fitness goals, then, that’s okay. I’ll take it in stride. If I let myself fall for the boy that didn’t like me back, that was okay. It was a year of forgiveness, of freedom. 

2013 was a year that I would live, to the best of my ability, that no matter what, I was worth loving.

For me, being so worth loving does not excuse bad behavior, it does not excuse lack of self-improvement. Know this, understanding that you and those around you are so worth loving is not a self-righteous attitude. 

Knowing your worth means that we value who we are as human beings and value others. This is true freedom.

This is freedom from your relationship status. 
This is freedom from a job title. 
This is freedom from the label on your jeans. 
This is freedom from the past choices you have made. 
This is freedom from those circumstances that have happened to you. 

So with this freedom, with the knowledge that I am worth loving, as a created individual with a purpose on this earth, I began 2013. 

And now…with the year coming to a close I sit back and look at the end of the beginning. Living a year without expectation has given me the room to grow. It has allowed me to see where I want to improve and what can stay the same. It has shown me facets of my future that scare me and yet I know it will all work out. 2013 has shown me, again, who I do not need in my life and those I want to draw closer to, maybe even for the rest of my life. Who knows? 

This year has allowed me to have a trust like no other. I challenge you, give yourself a bit of slack in 2014. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes, to overcome the past, to do or stop doing whatever it is that is holding you back. 

So, goodbye to the beginning…and hello to whatever the future holds. 


Post by Michelle Plett

Michelle Plett is sensitive, creative, intelligent, passionate, blonde and easily bored. Purveyor of all things beautiful, passionate for the fight against injustice in the world and the lack of value put on humanity.