A Speaker

I’m not really sure where to go with this post, but it does have some type of a purpose. It may be scattered but bear with me, or just stop reading… it’s up to you!

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I sat through a speaker today in school. Hilda, a holocaust survivor. She told her story of losing her home and family, being sent to Germany and her life in Auschwitz. The story was one of the most humbling experiences I have had to date. She talked about her experience and what happened as she witnessed it. She talked about being in the same camp as Ann Frank before a transfer and how she survived through the events. Here is a highlight of some of the things she talked about:

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1. She talked about being beaten and forced to wear a yellow star.
2. Hiding in a secret attic in hopes that the Nazis wouldn’t find her.
3. Being terrified to hear knocks at doors and the sight of German Shepard dogs tearing apart humans.
4. Being sent to the ghettos – a building where a dozen families may be able to live, but she was there with 14,000 other Jews. Sharing one room with 6 other families and no furniture.
5. Being moved from the ghettos onto a cattle car where she stood for 3 days and 3 nights. Where people screamed and lost air and the dehumanization process started.
6. Arriving at Auschwitz and being filed left and right – the left heading straight to the gas chamber and the right going into the life of slavery.
7. A Doctor decided who lived and died based on a quick look as to whether or not you could work hard. Some were filed into a line for medical experiments.
8. The process of losing her clothing and getting her head shaved was the next dehumanizing stage. Everything taken was kept – even the hair shaved from their head – they were used to make pillows, mattresses and used for warmth in the boots of the Nazi soldiers.
9. She described how the prisoners in the camp would rather die from ally bombs than at the hands of the Nazis. The nearby bombings felt like hope to them.
10. Going from dreaming about your family and parents to then thinking about nothing but food from the starvation.

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She talked a lot about what she experienced and mentioned that she had to speak out about it happening in order to speak out against those who killed and about what had happened. She mentioned that being silent stated that the Nazi’s are still in control. It was from that point that she decided to tell her story.

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Throughout her talk she mentioned how strong her faith had become. She talked about how often she talked to God and how he was with her and helped her remain alive. She said that the only way she could hand it and continue on is through the strength of God within her. One important thing she mentioned was that when events happen, you can become bitter or closer to God – the choice is yours to make.

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As I was listening to her speak I began to think about the journey through an eating disorder. I thought about how this can happen to me, and I think it is so big, while hearing what she went through. Once I got past that I thought about what I could learn from Hilda. I realized that I could learn a lot, and so much of what she said pertains to recovery (she is still recovering to this day). I realized that speaking out is a choice to make, finding attitude, and choosing faith is important.

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This disorder builds walls around us. The walls are in the form of secrets and lies. Speaking out against the eating disorder is the only way to push through. It will continue to control us until we are able to speak out and make our voices heard. Speaking out can be in a different form for everyone. For me, I’ve found that if I admit what is happening aloud, Ed has less power. When I am struggling with a choice in my head about to restrict or purge, if I speak out, it changes the outcome and Ed loses the power. My form of speaking out is admitting the thoughts that are there, and holding myself accountable for them. For example, I can’t help if I feel strongly about wanting to restrict dinner, but what I can do is give my rational mind a voice by sending an email to my dietitian from my phone (right away) that says, “I’m sending this email so I do not skip dinner. I will eat dinner. By sending this email, I will eat and hold myself accountable.” It seems so simple, but it’s not. It’s not simple because I have to stick to what I say. I will not let this disorder make a liar out of me. Sometimes the dinner is less than what’s called for on the meal plan, but it’s still dinner. The more I give “rational Rachel” the freedom to speak out, the stronger I become and the weaker the disorder becomes.

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Finding attitude in this is vital. I have found that you can choose to give in, or you can choose to fight for your life. Hilda didn’t have a choice, but in some manner, she did. She chose to do what she had to do to stay alive. It was incredibly difficult for her, but she chose the attitude of a fighter. She admitted there were times when it’s hard, just like in our recovery, but in those moments of pausing, you just can’t quit. I’m learning that about myself. For the first time I’m not turning and running at this point in recovery. This is the hard part – the scary part, and as hard as it is, I’m standing firm in this spot.

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Choosing faith is becoming key to my recovery. Whatever faith you choose – whether it be in a higher power, or just faith in those around you. Finding some sort of faith is what I believe has to be done. I have found that my faith in God is slowly growing stronger and stronger. My faith in my treatment team is as well. This is hard to do because we are essentially jumping without looking. The good thing that comes out of this is that I know things can and will get better. Hilda made a strong point, situations can either make you bitter, or closer to God. A bitter life is something that nobody wants – including me! Becoming closer to God allows me to feel like I can make it through this. I believe I will learn something from this journey and that it will serve a purpose in my life. What that is, I’m not sure, but I do know that it won’t be for nothing.

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There is no great way to end this, so all I’ll end on is “keep fighting because it does get better.

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