Brittany - 2012 Graduate
I was only two years old when my parents got divorced. Mom and I moved several hours away, but my dad still visited me—until the age of 6. That was the last time I saw him. Even though it was just my mom and me, I had a great childhood. I was very active as a kid, and took a special interest in track and field at 7 years old. I excelled in the sport quickly, and by 16 I was the youngest athlete to compete at the 2004 Olympic Trials, where I placed 9th in triple jump. I was even named Gatorade's "Athlete of the Year” for track and field. Track was my life, my future, and my dream. My entire identity was wrapped up in my success as an athlete. Along with that came an obsession to maintain a certain weight and size.
As an athlete, I depended a lot on my coaches, especially as male leaders in my life and father figures. In college, I felt my coach’s disapproval and pressure from him to lose weight, which only compounded the emotional stress I was under as a student athlete. Out of desperation and panic, I started bingeing and purging. That began my seven year battle with bulimia.
I transferred schools, but my emotional and physical problems only grew worse, trickling into my performance in track and in the classroom. When I was a junior, my issues caused my track scholarship to be revoked, and two weeks later I was expelled from school. I saw my dreams and my future gone—15 years of my life. All of the commitments, training, sacrifice, everything that I hoped for had gone down the drain. I felt like a failure and a disappointment.
Shortly after that, my mom was handed a devastating diagnosis—breast cancer. Dealing with my bulimia, the loss of my track career, and my mom’s cancer became too much. I coped by drinking, smoking, and eventually, doing drugs. I went from needing just a weekend fix to being high all the time. I was miserable and hated myself for who I had become.
Thankfully, my mom was cleared of cancer and when all my masks came down and I had nothing left, she was there to help me. She found Mercy Ministries, and I knew it was my last hope. I didn’t understand how God could fix me, but I was ready for a new life. After being at Mercy for less than a month, I accepted Christ as my Savior! My relationship with God deepened as I spent time with Him, and I began to learn who I am as His daughter. I was able to see myself for who He created me to be, and I now know my true value. I believe Him when He says He will never leave me nor forsake me.
What has changed me is the cross. When there are situations and seasons of pain and seemingly unbearable circumstances, I now know where to go. I don’t go to a bottle, or to drugs, or to bulimia… I go to the cross. The cross reminds me of all He has done for me and in me. I am now free from the bondage I was in, and I finally love myself and the life He’s blessed me with.
I am currently attending an amazing church, and I have plans to start my studies in acting, along with fitness and nutrition. God has given me a wonderful life to enjoy! Since graduating from Mercy, I’ve been spending a lot of time with family (making new memories to cherish), and having the courage to share my testimony with others. I love telling people how much He loves us—He is the answer for every situation we face.