Haley’s Story

For at least a month or so, I had been up to my neck in loneliness, insecurity, hopelessness, and hatred of who I was. I didn’t believe in myself, that I could handle the day I was going through or the days down the road or whatever life would throw at me next. Comparing myself to others devolved into an addiction: she was prettier, she was more thoughtful, she was more helpful, she was better. Everything fueled the belief that I was not good enough, and my heartbreak deepened with every waking moment.

On the afternoon of December 3rd, my school had a Quidditch match. This sounds like a ridiculous turn in the story, but I have a penchant for taking things way too seriously. I, Harry Potter nerd that I am, obviously joined the Quidditch club, which pretty much consisted of two athletic people and a bunch of other nerds, at its founding earlier that year. We played another school that afternoon, who pretty much brought their entire track team in Quidditch uniforms.

Needless to say, it didn’t go well. We lost… badly. Like, so badly I’m laughing as I write this, even though it’s the memory of one of the most painful evenings of my life. In the final match, I was Seeker, which basically involved a lot of running after someone dressed as a Golden Snitch. In front of everyone - fans (if you can believe it), parents, teachers, friends, both teams - I sprinted, got so out of breath, was obviously nowhere near as good as the other high school’s track star, and did not catch the Snitch. The catching of the Snitch actually took place in the stands where all the “fans” were sitting, so it was maximum exposure of my failure. The bottom line: I wasn’t good enough. Not at Quidditch, and evidently, not at life.

I don’t know why this particular humiliation was what cracked me, but it did. There are a few other very specific memories I have of this time - messing up the drums as the praise band played “Pompeii” by Bastille, driving to school and pretending I didn’t exist to numb myself to the pain - but I don’t know if I’ll ever remember feeling broken as much as I did on December 3rd.

I cried. I’m a crier, so this probably surprises absolutely no one, but I cried: at the school, on the way home as I ignored any words of encouragement from my dad and sister, and once I got home.

I sat with my back against my bedroom wall and sobbed, asking one single question: Why can’t I just give up?

(This is the part of the story where my throat closes up and my fingers start shaking, btdubs.)

Somehow, giving up - on life, on myself, on the future, on something better - was never an option. No matter how much I hated myself and my life, how inferior I felt to everyone around me, how lifeless each day seemed… I knew I couldn’t just give up. In the back of my mind, shoved into a small, dusty corner, Hope sat. I’m not usually a fan of random capitalization of important, meaningful words, because you get Sentences that Look like This, but this Hope demands it. Even when I wanted to give up, something inside me wouldn’t. It wouldn’t let me go, no matter how much the darkness tried to take me. I believe that everyone has that Hope inside of them, regardless of any factor, any flaw, any fault. Two years ago on December 3rd, it was the voice of Hope that told me I wasn’t done yet.

This past December 3rd, I celebrated a whole lot. I packed for Young Life camp that weekend. I danced in victory. I walked (and am still walking) in the light because the darkness did not overcome me.

Two years ago, I kept going. I held on tightly even though at times, I didn’t know what I was holding on to. It was Hope that grabbed me and propelled me and finally pushed me into the light of freedom. I learned my value. I learned to believe in myself. I learned that I have worth that isn’t based on my words, actions, shortcomings, or successes. I learned that I am loved and worthy of it. You are loved and worthy of it, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. I’m enough. You’re enough. Hope is my anchor. I refuse to stop seeking, exploring, or adventuring. There are still days when I wonder: am I back where I was before? Was it all for nothing? Days when the lies penetrate my mind, when insecurity keeps me quiet, when stress overwhelms me. But I push through those days and find resilience in Hope. I have found something better than constantly comparing myself to others and crying my eyes out at night. (Or something better found me.)

Two years later, I am (to quote Jamie Tworkowski) “a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things.” If anyone is in the same spot as me on that December 3rd: Those better things are real. They’re there. They’re waiting.

Hold on. Hope. One day, you’ll look back on your own December 3rd and be so grateful you did.

Marion’s Story

For years, I believed things such as “You aren’t good enough” or “You aren’t pretty enough” or “You aren’t smart enough” or “You’re not skinny enough”. This basically all boiled down to the same concept…me feeling like I’m not enough. That I’m not worthy. That I’m not valuable. 

These thoughts spiraled into me being diagnosed with depression and struggling with anorexia. My eating disorder was a quest for perfection. It was a quest for me to be “enough”. I thought that if I had the perfect body, everything in my life would be perfect as well. However, that wasn’t true. Those thoughts only led to misery, sadness, loneliness, and more depression. For four years, I was in and out of treatment. In and out of doctors appointments, nutritionist appointments, and countless hours of therapy. I was stubborn and didn’t see anything changing. I didn’t want to change. I was miserable before my eating disorder started because of how self-degrading I was to myself, and I was still miserable at my lowest weight. So why not be miserable and be skinny too? That was my life. 

My eating disorder stole the majority of high school for me. Going out to dinner with people was out of the question. I stayed alone in my room all the time. My relationship with my parents was struggling. My brothers didn’t even know who their little sister was anymore. I was close to my life being fully taken due to the depression that my eating disorder caused. I was so depressed that I didn’t think life was worth living anymore. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was admitted to an inpatient program for four days at a mental hospital. As scary as that was, it was desperately needed. I never thought I would be someone who had to be admitted to a mental hospital, but it is a lot more common than people think. So many people struggle with mental illness, and it is extremely important to get help. 

While I was in the hospital, something clicked. I realized that I couldn’t keep doing that to myself anymore. I had to make the choice to take a chance, to see if things could change. Upon being discharged from the hospital, I finally realized that those thoughts I was thinking were actually lies and not truth. Each day after leaving the hospital, I got a little stronger. I decided I was going to continue to fight. I realized that my story was nowhere close to being over. I realized that I am enough, simply because I am ME. I realized that I am made to love others and be loved in return. I realized that my body, no matter what size, is also made to be loved simply because it was created perfectly, just the way it is. And most importantly, I realized that I was worthy of the love I received in return. I realized that I was enough. 

Walking in freedom and walking in the truth is such a great feeling. No matter what you’ve thought about yourself, what you’ve been through, what you are struggling with…YOU ARE SO WORTH LOVING.