This is me.
I LOVE to have fun, I'm a little silly, and I have a thing for sparkles.
....like, I really love sparkles.
On September 7th, 2019, I walked down the aisle and married my best friend.
I'm showing you this, because on this day, in this dress, I walked into marriage completely free after 13 years of hardcore bulimia and a lifetime of food and body shame.
I stepped into the rest of my future knowing who I am, secure in my mind, body, and spirit.
Confident in my future.
Confident in my worth.
Confident in my body.
Eating every single thing I desire, with ease.
And then moving on, because LIFE.
But it wasn't always this way...
My entire life used to be about food.
.....and not in a good "chef" kind of way.
In a chubby kid always on diets because she ate so much to handle traumatic events and her parents thought losing weight would be good for her (ha), then gained and lost 130 pounds by the end of high school, but hating herself into weightless still didn't control the binging so then she began throwing up 1-4x a day for the next 13 years through counseling, inpatient, a canceled engagement, lying, stealing food to save money, and handing all her money and credit cards over in desperation...type of way.
Most years I was trying to stop. Some years I just didn't have the energy and learned to live with it.
But I never knew I could be completely free.
I dreamed of it, dreamed what it would be like to feel "normal", to go through a day without my mind, time, money, and energy being stolen.
To wonder what it would be like to be one of those girls who could eat what she wanted and move on....and be okay.
More than okay - to not even give it a second thought!
And yet, I am free.
Despite being told it's impossible.
Despite being told this is a life long disease I must accept and manage.
Despite already having 3 tooth implants.
I live in a world with NO trigger warnings. NO meal plans or set times. NO body beat up or dieting.
Why I Am Different Then What You've Tried Before:
I put it all together. Everything I have learned along the way. I put it together in a way that makes it so much easier and efficient for you to walk into freedom.
Because, listen: you are not destined to live this way forever.
But you have to be willing to see things differently.
I take you on a journey to explore your beliefs about life, yourself, and your own worth.
I teach you how the brain and body work, and how to align your beliefs so that you live in freedom KNOWING who you are and why you are here.
You not only get to be free of this heinous thing, you get to know you are enough.
You were created for freedom. You are destined to live your FULL LIFE.
Here's the thing:
I didn’t grow up with bulimia. I grew up with an identity crisis.
I didn’t grow up with a predisposition to binging and throwing up. I wasn’t born with a certain brain imbalance that would determine in the future I would struggle with binging, and then 13 years of bulimia after years of dieting. There was no predetermination in my chemical makeup that foretold the severity inside that would be labeled as an eating disorder. That I was destined to struggle in this way, that I would always struggle in this way, and that it's just the way it is for me.
I was born a joyful, outgoing, silly, loving, trusting, big hearted little girl, who grew up with mixed messages about who I am, why I’m here, what about me matters, and what makes me worthy. I grew up trying to survive some painful scenarios (as we all do), dealing with confusion of my little brain trying to make sense of the world, while desperately wanting to feel safe, loved, and adored.
I grew up desperate to feel accepted. Desperate to feel enough. Desperate to feel seen, heard, and NORMAL. Thinking everything about me was “too much”, and if I could just change myself then I would obtain what I’ve always wanted...peace, joy, acceptance, companionship.
And in these very real desires, I believed lies about myself that formed a toxic and confused identity. I began to believe I wasn’t worthy - so I better make myself worthy. That I wasn’t attractive or wanted, so I better make myself desirable. That I wasn’t enough to hold someone’s attention, so I better try harder, do more, earn my way to show up on their radar. I better manufacture myself in a way so that I could be worthy to live the life I wanted.
And in all this pain, all this striving, in all this internalization of what I thought I wasn’t - it’s the identity crisis that lead me to bulimia.
It’s the identity crisis that caused the severity of the fear, anxiety, rejection from others and ultimately self rejection. The identity crisis, that created such a deep hole in me that every attempt to stuff myself with food was just so that I could have a LITTLE bit of peace. A LITTLE moment of silence. A LITTLE numbing from the voices screaming “You’re not enough”, and me shaking my head in agreement.
Yet those same TINY moments of comfort in food, created even more proof to my growing identity crisis - I’m not enough - because now my body was even more out of control than before, and now I’m creating a reality for myself that put me even further outside the lines of “normal”.
Caught between I want to stop binging and I want to be smaller (worthy)- but I can’t survive the chaos inside...
So, I throw up. The throwing up began to simply manage the binging, which began to simply manage the crisis inside of believing I was never going to be okay. Believing there is something wrong with me.
But I got so lost in the binge and purge cycle, that it became the focus. It became the illness. It became the thing that I would never get out of and would always have to manage. A double edged sword - something I needed to survive, yet something keeping me from living. My brain being so intelligent, it kicked into overdrive my binge urges just to help me survive.
Because without it, who would I be?
Would my emotions kill me?
Would I be a loser who wouldn’t be able to function in society?
Would I lose all my friends, my family, every part of myself?
It was believing that I had to earn those things to begin with, that got me into this mess.
It was the same identity crisis.
Who am I without bulimia?
Thank God for the courage to find out that answer.
Because once I opened the door, each step came right on time. Each part of my heart being healed and restored. My brain being transformed and stabilized. My relationship to food and body being calmed and freed.
I am Marie Nicole Stanford, worthy and enough, just because I am.
Silly and joyful, just because I am.
Safe and accepted, just because I am.
Fully loved, fully free, fully me.
Learning how to stand strongly in the truth. Learning how to feel safe as my default. Learning how to welcome my empathy and emotions as something to celebrate and not fear.
The life long illness that tried to take root as a little girl, wasn’t bulimia - it was the identity crisis.
Bulimia - the binging, the neural pathways, the physical healing - can all be completely restored. That’s the physical part.
But what makes it FOREVER with no fear of going back? No fear of the so called “inevitable relapses”? The constant trigger warning awareness you must have?
Healing your identity.
You were never meant to question your worth, your validity, your enoughness. You were never meant to feel less than. You were never meant to feel overlooked, unseen, and uncared for.
You were meant to have the capacity to receive SO much love, that every good thing naturally reflects out of you. Self love, powerful choices, strong stances, and contagious joy.
You were meant to have a sound mind, full connected relationships, and ease with food.
Bulimia isn’t a death sentence you have to be a victim to forever. It isn’t a diagnosis you have no control over.
It is an invitation to put to death the lies you’ve been believing, and allow the real you to be resurrected.
Are you willing to see everything differently?