Just Eat

It’s Eating disorder Awareness Week… I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal to most people. “Just eat”… “I wish I had THAT problem” … Two of the most frustrating, rude, cavalier and insensitive phrases I hear whenever ED’s come up. Eating disorders are serious. Serious like addiction. And it’s not because “we” are selfish, vain or conceited. It’s because we have no self love, self worth and no grace. It’s because we feel out of control in life and take it out on our bodies. Because we feel guilt when we take care of ourselves. Eating disorders are not a joke.

(I rewrote the paragraph above a few times changing the “we” to “they” and the “our” to “their” because I’m struggling with whether or not I want to own my own struggles right now. #VigorousHonesty)

Eating disorders come in many forms, restricting, binging, purging, over exercising… these are the symptoms, the whiskey to the alcoholic, the meth to the addict, the abuser to the abused. If you’ve ever known or loved someone who struggled with addiction, you’ve probably thought, “Why can’t they see what their doing to themselves?”

“Why don’t they just stop?”

“Why doesn’t she leave him?”

“She doesn’t love me enough to quit.”

That’s pretty much the same thoughts you might have when you are close to someone with an eating disorder. It’s frustrating. Maybe a little more frustrating because it’s harder to understand. Harder to relate to. I grew up in a home where addiction was talked about often. My dad is over 30 years sober and has worked in treatment for my entire life. My sister has been in rehab a few times, my mom, too. Addiction, recovery, 12 Steps, meetings, amends…. This is all the norm to me. Addiction, we can handle. We have the tools. But about 12 years ago when I was diagnosed as “Anorexic with purging”, none of us had any idea how to deal. My dad was very proactive, he got me help immediately. A therapist, treatment… What I didn’t have was anyone in my life who understood. In a world where everyone was on the Atkin’s Diet, I didn’t fit in. It was really lonely. For me, going to a 12-Step meeting was not useful. I didn’t use. Not like them. For me, not eating served the same purpose, however, I was not offered the same grace. People rolled their eyes, because their addiction was “worse”. Because “all” I had to do was “just eat”. (I am rolling my eyes as I type this!)

I have forgiven everyone who’s ever belittled my disease because I understand that you DON’T understand. I would like to give a little insight though. So maybe you can have more grace with someone who is walking a road you’ve never walked.

I have a friend, a good friend who also has an eating disorder, and she is the only person besides my therapist who “gets it”. The irony is that she over eats and I under eat. (I’m actually in recovery… see here is where it’s hard to compare addiction and ED’s because when an alcoholic drinks, they’re no longer sober. If I have a bad eating day, I’m not off the wagon necessarily. It’s not THAT simple. Hence ED awareness week.) However, if you sit us both down and talk with us, or, hear us talk with each other, it’s the same words, it’s the same feelings. We just have literally opposite reactions. When I am sad, I lose 15 pounds. When she is sad, she gains 15 pounds. I’m not saying like I feel sad today and magically 15 pounds evaporate. I mean like, when I am going through depression, stress, anxiety, etc. I can’t eat. Like physically, I cannot swallow food. I will chew for ages and just can’t swallow. And I and not necessarily even upset about my body during these times. In fact, if I’m in that place, I am not even thinking about my body. I am too absorbed in my misery. Yes throughout my life I have acted out my ED because I have had a “fat” day (a word I avoid). I have also noticed that my “fat days” directly correlate to my emotions. The scale has not changed, but for some reason today I fucking HATE my body. Nothing looks right, nothing feels right. I want to rip off my skin. I literally want to take scissors to my thighs. I want to vacuum the fat from my belly. These are the images I get when I look in the mirror on a “fat day.” Meanwhile my brain is saying, “You’re worthless, you’re weak, you’re not lovable, nobody takes you seriously, you deserve to feel lonely, nobody needs you. You’re too outspoken, you’re too opinionated. You’re not smart enough or pretty enough. You’re just not enough. Oh- except your thighs, those are too much. Jeez, Justine, what’s wrong with you? You’re a shitty anorexic. You ate WAY too much yesterday and LOOK at your ass! You can’t even eat right. You’re so stupid. You need to control yourself. You are an embarrassment.” You see how it’s not actually about my body? My body is the scapegoat. Internally I feel like I can’t fix my uselessness, and all the things wrong with who I am, but, I CAN fix my thighs. So here I am desperately hating myself, and truly needing someone to love me, someone to affirm me. Not my body. ME. and I don’t know how to ask for that. And I sure as hell don’t believe I deserve it. So I am sad. So I can’t eat. And not eating serves a purpose. Not eating ,makes me feel successful subconsciously. Eating literally makes me nauseous, so NOT eating makes me feel better.

Meanwhile my friend who over eats has the SAME thoughts, only her coping skill is to make herself feel better by eating. Because when she is eating it FEELS GOOD. It smells good, and looks good and fills her. It literally fills the emptiness. So she will eat fast food, and thus PROVE to herself, all the things her brain has been chanting. That she isn’t strong enough to lose the weight, that she is worthless, that she’s fat. That she doesn’t “deserve” to be healthy, because if she did deserve it, she could eat like a “normal” person. She “proves” her worthlessness to herself every time she gets on a scale and hasn’t lost any weight. Every time her doctor is disappointed. Every time her nutritionist overwhelms her with lists of food she “can’t” have. It’s overwhelming. And what’s the point anyway, right? She feels like a failure. Maybe she is? Oh, is that a Mc Donald’s? French fries will help. And she’ll try again tomorrow.

I don’t know if my sharing this is helpful. I just thought, in the spirit of the week, maybe I can shine some light on a subject that you just can’t grasp at face value.

I want you all to know that I have been working my recovery, seeing my therapist, and learning to love myself. To change the way I talk to myself. To recognize the red flags and seek help when I start going down the rabbit hole. My recovery really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with food. Food is just the way I show the sickness. As a mom I have been good at maintaining a healthy weight… but masking the real issue. I am in a place where I want recovery, and I understand that just because I am not acting out my ED, does not mean I am cured. I understand that every single day I need to work to make the right choices. Because, magically, when I am doing what is right and healthy for me, I don’t hate myself so much. In fact, I start seeing the good. I have recognized that my decisions directly effect my self worth. And I am worth being happy. I am worth love. I am lovable. And so are you.

Started From The Bottom Now We’re Here

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

We were twins. OK maybe not “technically”, but I never knew life without her. I was 15 months old when she was born. Contrary to popular rumor, (that was probably started by a grandma somewhere who had severe empty nest syndrome) breastfeeding IS NOT birth control! She is proof!

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

As children we were attached, if one of us got time out, the other went to sit in time out as well. We were partners in crime, at ages 4 and 5 we conspired to steal and eat our grandmothers chocolate cake while our dad was in the shower… he figured it out, but I don’t think he got any cake. I may have tattled on her when she decided to cut her own hair, little did we know, she actually has a talent as a hair stylist. We played together at recess, and all of our friends were mutual.

Charcoal by ShonRochelle
Charcoal by ShonRochelle

 

We couldn’t have been more different, in fact we still are polar opposites, she is everything I am not, blond, tall, big blue eyes, big butt (If this is being read in a future where anorexia is back “in”, just bear in mind that big butts are all the rage right now), she’s a dancer, a singer AND an artist. She is has a big personality, as a Gemini she is nearly impossible to pin down, she’s always wherever the drama is, and will surprise the shit out of you when she is suddenly completely down to earth, understanding, and will bend over backwards to help you because most of the time she is blunt and tactless… although always truthful… whether you like it or not. (That last part may be a family trait, come to think of it.)

Abstract by ShonRochelle
Abstract by ShonRochelle

 

I am 5 feet (short) tall, I have brown eyes that I call hazel because sometimes they change, and it makes me feel like I have some individual, and defining characteristic that the rest of us brown eyed girls never get complemented on. I have brown hair, no rhythm, and I can draw stick figures, which is the extent of my artistic ability. My only claim to fame is that I am a writer. I am a Pisces. And growing up I was very sweet, quiet, overly emotional, and sensitive. Even though I was the older sister, I relied on her to be the things I wasn’t, SHE stood up for ME, when I was bullied, she came to my rescue when I got hurt or cried, she was basically my big sister. MY whole life I have gotten away with being… a princess, I guess. I managed to always find someone to do what needed to be done, my sister and my friends used to have homework pow wows where we would all do all of my math homework for the week (I was in independent studies, and I am terrible at math, if we wanted to hang out, we as a group would do my homework.) To this day I do not have a drivers license (long story), even in my jobs I have managed to get away with not doing things… or doing things that I shouldn’t. There have been times where I get so frustrated because it always seemed like it was easier for people to do things FOR me, instead of teach me how to do it. I have had to force people to teach me things, or I have become a master at Googling. It’s not that I am not smart, it’s that people seem to LIKE helping me. All of this started with my sister, who probably didn’t want to be the youngest, or maybe she noticed my weakness, and instead of exploiting them, she spent years helping me cover them up.

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

 

What you are not expecting, is that my bombshell little sister was teased mercilessly from 5th grade to 8th grade. She had what you call “baby fat” she didn’t overeat, at least not initially, eventually she did use food as comfort, which only made the situation worse. I don’t even know if she was teased for being “fat”, or if there were other things… but I do know that this was the same age that my sister began to notice that she is not like other girls. While she had typical crushes on boys, she also had crushes on girls. It’s funny, we both had the same feelings, but again, the way things played out couldn’t be more opposite. Her defense mechanism was to be mean. She turned into a bully, a bully that was bullied. I remember people telling me how mean my sister was, and I didn’t get it. She wasn’t mean to me, and she always stood up for me. During that time I was too self absorbed to pay attention to what was going on with my little sister. She was having problems at church and school, and I wasn’t. I was never “popular” but I had a lot of friends, I have the ability to get along with just about anyone. (I think it was more my need to be liked and accepted though, because now, as an adult, I am very particular about my friendships, and I listen to my intuition about people.)

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

I was the squeaky wheel in the family. So while everyone was paying attention to me (I had depression, and an eating disorder) and taking me to therapy, and checking in on me… and grounding me (Ask my friends, I spent at least 2 full years grounded). No one paid attention to her. No one saw that she was sad, lonely and confused. I don’t think she even felt like she could say anything, about anything. I don’t know if she felt it would matter? My Sophomore year, her Freshman year was a turning point, I had switched to a new school (yes, I was the diva of the family who needed to change schools… I did this several times before Independent Studies became the obvious solution) and she started selling drugs, my moms medications, I think. She had already been doing other students homework for cash, for a few years. She must have felt gypped when she did my homework, anyway, from what I remember this was the year that she started using. The previous year we had dabbled in drinking and smoked pot, but it was really experimental, at least for me. It’s a trip to me that she managed to get loaded while we lived in our dad’s house. I mean, he was not only sober, but he worked in rehabs our whole lives! Maybe that’s why my vice became an eating disorder, instead? I have to confess I had no clue what was going on with her at this point. We lived in the same house, but we didn’t really talk. She really must have felt invisible then.

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

It wasn’t until the day she came stumbling home (and by home I mean our mom’s house, we had moved in full time with her at this point) after vanishing for 3 days, and she was a mess. She was obviously loaded, I don’t know what she was using, but it was obvious. She then proceeded to molest my boyfriend at the time. I was horrified, and more horrified, I think because I realized that not only had I not realized she’d been gone so long, no one else had either. This was the first time I called my dad and said that she needed help. This was the first time she went to rehab. Little did I know, she would go 5 more times.

 

Charcoal by ShonRpchelle
Charcoal by ShonRpchelle

I confess that I don’t know her current sobriety date, but I do know it’s been about 4 years, and the last time she went into Treatment it was thanks to a phone call from me to my dad… again. But this time was different than the other times to me, she’s changed. I feel like I have a friend again. The best part is, she is painting again. I mentioned earlier that my sister is an artist, well I feel like it’s an understatement. A lot of people claim artistic ability, her art, is unbelievable. There is something about the way she puts her soul on canvas, actually, she paints the way I write, she completely opens herself up, and puts it out there. There is a vulnerable honesty that I see when I look at her paintings. I am so happy she has found a healthy way to be noticed, and not just to be seen, but to be understood. Something she has needed for years. And as her big sister, I want to publically acknowledge my little sister, her talents, her accomplishments, and her strength.

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

She came out about 8 years ago, and I think that was one of the proudest moments of my life, I felt like she had finally began to find herself… my heart also broke knowing what a hard road she had in front of her. Some of our family members have completely written her off, she has been shamed, guilted and rebuked for her “choice”. I know, from personal experience that whom you love, is not a choice, yes there are decisions in love, but the heart you are drawn to has nothing to do with gender. I have been bisexual since I can remember, and for whatever reason I never felt like it was wrong. In fact, I felt like denying that part of myself was unnatural. I am happily married and madly in love with my husband, however, it would not have surprised me if my soul mate had been a woman. Even though her path is not easy, I think the one gift I have given my sister is my 100% support. I have fought for equality passionately, because I am fighting not only for what I believe to be “right”, not only for myself, and anyone else who deviates from the norm, I am fighting for my little sister.

 

Art by ShonRochelle
Art by ShonRochelle

Feel free to check out her are pages, you can follow her on

Instagram, her name is Shonlieberman

and order her original art here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/darshonna?ref=search_shop_redirect

or order her prints here: http://twenty20.com/shonlieberman

 

So… I grew up in a cult…

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Being authentic is extremely important to me… now. This wasn’t always true, well maybe it has always been true, but I pushed the real part of me back and put on a front, a mask, with a big cheesy smile plastered right in the middle. This is how I survived, although I certainly wasn’t living. I have talked about the “church” *cough* cult *cough* I grew up in ( http://healthymama.net/?p=38 ) and how badly it screwed me up. Thinking back, I don’t know when I knew there was something wrong, but I think I was born questioning and pushing boundaries. Not every “Kingdom Kid” (that’s what they called us, the kids who grew up in The International Church of Christ “ICOC”) is as scarred as I am, and some were burned far deeply than I was. I am just the vocal one. A lot of the Kingdom Kids have let it go, they are “over it”, some still believe in god, some found other churches, and others completely turned away from any form of religion… and a few have been completely deluded and brainwashed and have been baptized, became “disciples” (basically a hoity toity way of saying you are a Christian, because that’s how Jesus refers to his followers, the term “Christian” was only used a few times in The Bible.) devoted their lives to “evangelizing” (recruiting) the “world” (everyone who is not already a disciple). Many of whom have also cut off their families, and friends unless they are part of ICOC or ICC ( International Christian Churches, the relatively new faction, an offshoot of the original church, led by Kip McKean , who was asked to step down from leadership, so he started a whole new church, and recruited a lot of the disciples from ICOC in a time where the church was very weak thanks to a lot of very shady going-ons.). I even know families who are divided between the two churches… and “The World”. The saddest thing for me is to see these adult Kingdom Kids, my would be, once upon a time brothers and sisters, and to experience their judgments and feel that complete disconnect. I wonder if they went back, or stayed because they need to feel a part of something. ICOC really was a huge family in it’s prime. I grew up in those rooms, in the bowels of The Shrine Auditorium every other week, and then sitting in those red cushioned chairs during huge church conferences. I was there the night we rented out The Rose Bowl, and the monumental night we filled The Staples Center (this was when the church had to come together to address Henry Kriete’s letter to the ICOC http://www.tolc.org/kriete.htm ) I went on “vacation” to “Shake n’ Bake” (an annual retreat to Palm Springs were we had marathon church services and classes) I went to summer camp Kingdom Kids from all over California, for as long as I can remember. These people were my family, some are still my best friends. I got married about 3 months ago, and I had 9 bridesmaids, 6 of them were Kingdom Kids, and all 6 of them have as little to do with ICOC/ICC as possible… this is difficult as 3 of them have family that are leaders or are just active in one or the other church. As you can see, I have maintained relationships from ICOC, and to be honest, I am thankful for the church for giving me such amazing friendships, and teaching me how to be a friend, how to forgive, and instilling an integrity in me I may have otherwise never found.

My wedding, all my beautiful bridesmaids, and my hubby
My wedding, all my beautiful bridesmaids, and my hubby

Unfortunately, this integrity, and ability to make deep lasting friendships came at a huge cost. For years I didn’t know myself because I was not allowed to be myself. I was taught to be a model Christian, and was brainwashed into following not The Bible, but my leaders to a fault. The problem with following people is they all have their own ideas on what you should say, think, feel and do. And they didn’t give you the option to make your own decision, they flat out told us. And they were wrong. I know many of them came into the church with their hearts in the right place, but over time things got really fucked up. We were not really allowed to be ourselves, and were forced to live a “Fake it til you make it” mentality. I knew that I had to put on a smiling face, and hug everyone I saw and met, even if I felt uncomfortable, even if I didn’t want to be touched, especially by strangers, my job was to make everyone around me comfortable, at the expense of my own comfort. This was the beginning of me ignoring my intuition, and second guessing myself… the beginning of me not being true to myself, when I began willingly putting myself in situations that were not healthy because I was TOLD to. I did not have the option to say “no” when I was asked by my “discipler” (kind of like a sponsor in AA, or a mentor) or a leader to do something, I was rebuked if I didn’t follow their directions or advice. We were not given the chance to think for ourselves, and if we did, and we spoke our thoughts, we were rebuked, belittled and shamed. There were really dumb rules, like, if a fellow kingdom kid asked you out on a date, you had to say yes, even if you didn’t want to. They said dating was about building friendships, but we all knew better, and certainly knew what a date was, and whether we wanted to date someone or not, and that did not help me as a young adult when it was time to say no…

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I had a particularly rough time because my dad is not only sober, but he has worked in rehabs my entire life! So I had the strictness of church, AND the strictness of “The Program” (in Alcoholics Anonymous there is a book they call The Big Book, not to be confused with The Bible, but equally as important when you are an addict, and it has a 12 Step Program that you follow to help you to stay clean.) I think the fact that my dad had already been in the Program, when he found the church, a church that prided itself on many of the same things that AA does, you see, ICOC may not have  12 Steps, but we did have The First Principles, which were mandatory studies that you had to go through in order to get baptized into ICOC, some of them were really intense, like “Light and Darkness” where you confess all of your sins. Even if you are only 12 and you have yet to sin for real. You literally catalog your sins, as many as you remember, (focusing specifically on sexual “sins” because the church seemed to have an obsession with sex, although they preached purity, they had people share during communion, and more often then not they chose people with a history of promiscuity and they would tell the entire congregation, and cry, and feel totally “ashamed”.) don’t worry, they give you guidelines, so you don’t miss anything, and then you apologize to whomever requires an apology. In AA there is a step where you basically do the same, and make amends to anyone you have hurt. There are a lot of similarities between the two, but a few of the main similarities is having a sponsor (discipler), a fallible, human who is there to keep you accountable, and help you when you struggle with anything that can lead you to “sinning” or in AA’s case, using. Another is the importance of fellowship, in AA you are encouraged to go to as many meetings as you can make it to, and surround yourself with other people who are in Program, ICOC encouraged us to go to church, midweek, or Bible study several days a week, and discourages maintaining relationships with people who are not part of the church, unless you are converting them, of course. So, as you can see, this environment made perfect sense for my dad. But if you are not in Program then the church was probably a little extreme. I grew up kind of meshing the 2 groups into one, kind of like some kids have the confusion between Santa Clause and God, well that was me, I thought that drinking alcohol was a sin, and was confused when I saw my friend’s parents drink a glass of wine at dinner. No one ever really explained anything reasonably to me, all I was ever told were absolutes, I lived in a world that was black and white. It was either, be good, or go to Hell. We were not Catholic, but the guilt trips were laid on thick! To further my confusion, my dad and step mom were perfect examples of what a Christian should be, they held Bible Studies in our home, never swore, or used god’s name in vain, they were never late to church, or missed a service, they were consistent and very strict, they “Shared their faith” (invited strangers to church). All things that you might expect in a Christian home. My friend’s from school, had parents who were very lenient, and although they went to youth groups, my church told me those other churches were not “real” churches, so all my friends were going to Hell, even though they were not “bad”, but, you know, I saw their dad drink a beer, so….

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I still have a really hard time when I talk to people who claim Christianity, but don’t follow The Bible, you have to understand, I was brain washed, I grew up believing that you lived your religion, and you put it before anything else. So, forgive me if I roll my eyes when you tell me that you only go to church on Christmas eve and Easter… when I grew up, we went to church unless we were vomiting, and we went 3 days a week! I had to go door to door inviting people to church (humiliating), I was not allowed to wear spaghetti straps, and my family prayed before every meal. I talk to people who are “Christians” but they live with their boyfriend… and these same people hate homosexuals for no other reason than they think The Bible says homosexuality is wrong. I knew people who were basically forced to get a divorce because their spouse didn’t go to the church, and “You can’t be yolked to an unbeliever”. This church was a mess, a hypocritical mess! But I still don’t think you’re a Christian if you don’t follow the rules in The Bible. Yeah, I’m still confused my my strong feelings.

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Some of the kids may have had it harder, as they were not born into the ICOC, their lives were flipped upside down when their parents took the (baptismal) plunge. Some of these kids flat our refused to have anything to do with ICOC, and were dragged to events sometimes because parents were considered to be in sin if their whole families were not part of the church. This was a particular issue when us Kingdom Kids were in middle school and high school, we may have been the perfect kids before, and as such we helped our parents climb the spiritual ladder to leadership status, but once we began rebelling, it was our parents who had to take responsibility, and eventually, lost their status, and in some cases their jobs if they were part of the ministry. But don’t worry, the church was really good at “fixing” problems. When a minister’s daughter ran off with some guy she met on the internet, the church kept it really hush-hush and moved the entire family to another region to continue leading. Another time, an Elder’s son confessed to basically pretending to be a disciple (as we all did on some level or another) and from my understanding wanted out of the church, he was given a secret baptism so his family could maintain their status, and so his discipler, the leader of the Teen Ministry didn’t look bad. When I was 15, not long after I was baptized, I broke down and tried to “Fall Away” (leave the church), I was really close with our regions minister’s daughter, so her mom took me out for coffee and bribed me to stay, and when I agreed it was never spoken of again. What did that teach us?  That secrecy is OK as long as it was the church’s idea? That the church will cover for you if you’re valuable enough? That the church really only cares about their numbers, and how much were were tithing.

 

I don’t think I ever really believed in god, I think I was told what to believe, and told not to think, and for a while I just went with it. But when I was 11 I started questioning, and I never stopped. I was told over and over that the I was not good enough, that my personality was too flirty, but if I turned off, and shut down, I was told that I was being selfish and having a pity party, and needed to be “out of myself”. I left the church when I was 16, (my family was actually black listed) and was struggling badly with an eating disorder. I went to rehab, which is where I started to discover myself (fitting, as the company was called Center For Discovery). this was the first safe place I had ever been, I was allowed to tell the truth, say what I felt and thought and I wasn’t told I was wrong, in fact, the opposite, I was totally nurtured for the first time in my life, my lack of faith in god was not ignored, it was validated.

The years following rehab were growing and learning years, they were some of the hardest years, but during that time, little by little, I started to shake off the fake me, even if people didn’t like it. I started standing up for what I believed, even if it completely contradicted what you believe. I finally found my voice, the voice that said, “Don’t touch me.” When he put his hands on me, the voice that stood behind my sister when she came out, and has not stopped fighting for equality. The voice that told the truth when I was miserable and pregnant and hated life, and has continued telling women that pregnancy and motherhood is not all rainbows and unicorns. This voice speaks up when something is not right, and sometimes blows up when I am angry… If I had not found my voice, I would still be stuck in a miserable, lonely relationship, far away from everyone I love, not living, surviving.

I am thankful for my upbringing in The ICOC because I feel that it opened my eyes to how fallible people really are, that right and wrong is not black and white, that there is a gray area, and it’s something inside you that tells you if it’s OK. We have a conscience for a reason and I don’t need a book or a person to tell me how to live. I am so comfortable with doing what feels right to me, and saying no when I need to, validating myself when no one else will, because that’s a life lesson we all need to learn… if we are unhappy we are giving someone else control, someone else is calling the shots, maybe it’s not your church, maybe it’s your mom? Whomever it is, it’s not their life, and I am giving you my blessing to stand up for yourself, and follow your heart and TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE.

*I am not encouraging you to tell everyone in your life to fuck off, I am encouraging you to find yourself and follow your heart, not someone else’s plan for your life.*

****If you are reading this because you have had a similar experience, have history with the ICOC/ICC, or you need help leaving, I am going to post some resources here for you. Free to email me at isahealthymama@yahoo.com or find my “recovery page” on facebook www.facebook.com/icocrecovery Here are a few blogs and websites from people who have left the ICOC/ICC and have shared their experiences and knowledge:

http://www.reveal.org/ <— This page has the truth about the ICOC.
http://www.spiritualpornography.com/ <— Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate, she named it Spiritual Pornography because that’s what Kip McKean called it when you read anything negative about the church. They post information it might be harder to find, such as Kip’s (supposed) resignation, and letters written to the church.

http://henrykriete.com/ <— Here you can read what REALLY happened with Henry Kriete and his family.
http://ministeriolatino.blogspot.com/ <—- Here you can read a blog from a former member of Kip’s current church (City of Angels International Church of Christ). He has written actually experiences between himself and Kip, AND other “leaders”. A very interesting read. He came across my blog and actually recognized someone I had written about (I kept it confidential).
http://www.tolc.org/ <—- Here you can read Henry Kriete’s letter and other letters written to the church. You can also click “debate” and you will be transferred to http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/main.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&nav=start&prettyurl=%2FICCdiscussion%2Fstart where you can interact with current and former members.