This piece by Mercy Survivor Alicia was originally published on her blog “Beyond Silence: My Mercy Journey” and can be viewed here.
It was early November of 2010 that I arrived at Mercy Multiplied in St Louis. I was nervous and excited. I thought it would be a chance to see change that would really benefit my life. I wasn’t even at Mercy Multiplied a day, when I found myself wanting to run away. I’m sure many girls felt that way. I had a lot of red flags come up in my heart. I told friends about the red flags they told me that it was fear trying to take me away from something that was really going to help change my life.
The first month at Mercy Multiplied was very hard for me. I went to Mercy Multiplied for help with an eating disorder, some past abuse issues, and self injury. I was determined to change my life. I quickly felt like an outcast at Mercy Multiplied.
Chores made Mercy Multiplied rough for me. My medication made me tired all the time. I remember always wanting to go to bed or lay down. I had some cardiac issues that hit me hard at Mercy Multiplied. It was hard to hide the health issues but it was evident that the fear of being kicked out of the program drove me to be silent.
Mercy Multiplied made the application process hard. We had to read books, writer papers, and do a ton of medical testing. My doctors didn’t want me to go to Mercy Multiplied but it was encouraged by friends. They never really met anyone that had gone to Mercy Multiplied but they read a lot of success stories so they assumed it must have been a great program by reading testimonials off of the Mercy Multiplied site.
Side Note: I must say people can post anything on the internet even these days.
At Mercy Multiplied, I found I had trouble staying awake in the classes. I had to stand through some of the classes because my medication would make me fall asleep right around class time. I tried hard to stay awake. They tried having me drink tea and coffee thinking the caffeine boost would help me. My roommate often complained that she was losing sleep because I snored too loud and even her ear plugs weren’t good enough to let her sleep. I got poor sleep. My roommate couldn’t tell me anything to my face. I had been called into the house manager’s office several times for keeping my roommate awake at night. I couldn’t help that I either snored or my CPAP machine made too much noise. They never tried to change the roommate situation. I even tried to go to sleep later than my roommate so I wouldn’t risk keeping her awake. She was close to graduation, I didn’t really want to make her upset with me.
Some mornings at Mercy Multiplied was hard. It was awkward for all the girls in the house to randomly be called up early to get a weight on them. I remember for fitness we had to go to the local YMCA. The fitness/nutrition person had me go there. At the gym, they would pull me aside to get weighed in a public locker room. It felt humiliating, they said it was there best way to track my weight.
Going to the gym seemed like a privilege to get to work out with normal people. There were so many limits to our workout. They said everyone had their own fitness plan. I felt like mine was overly structured and very limiting. They had me do stuff that I look back and thank God didn’t mess me up any more than I am dealing with in my current life.
Everyone had so many fitness points they had to achieve throughout the week. My goals looked simple on paper but behind the closed door it was a different story. I had to walk outside and do laps around the parking lot while the other girls were having free time. Some days I just wanted a snack or a cup of water but walking outside and those laps were more important than anything else.
I chose to go to Mercy Multiplied. Everyone that I have tried to share my story with has said but you chose this experience. I know I chose to go to Mercy Multiplied. I never expected some of the shame and guilt that was given to me there. I lost the idea of who I was in Christ there and that was not God’s purpose for my life. Mercy left me thinking my BMI was my worth. It took several years to overcome that negativity spoken over my life.
My counselor and the nutrition coach/fitness person would have private meetings with me when no one was upstairs. The meetings would tell me where my weight was, what I had to do to lose the weight, added limits on food intake, the list goes on. It just made me feel even more insecure.
Going home for Christmas seemed exciting! I also dreaded it. I was scared that I would put on weight and come back to have it put in my face. So my journey home for Christmas made me confused. I didn’t want to eat. I looked different. Some friends said I looked pale. I couldn’t tell anyone about the secret meetings and the shame. I just kept it inside.
I want to leave off here because there’s room for another blog entry to be written another day. Only can put so much out there during specific time.