Set Free From a Box

Once upon a time there was a mom of 12 who lost 100 pounds. She did it over a period of 18 months with exercise, eating smaller portions and focus. The weight stayed off for years, as she was vigilant with exercise and eating. Then one day, the mom tripped over a humidifier in her closet. Her foot stayed swollen and bruised for weeks and she figured she had jammed her toes. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

After four months, the mom finally went to the doctor. X-rays showed that nothing was broken so an orthopedic boot was prescribed. The boot helped the pain for a couple of weeks but then it returned, except worse. Fast forward through four months of non-weight bearing on a scooter, then surgery to fuse bones in the top of the foot, followed by a broken heel, the fusion of two discs in her spine due to the scooter accelerating disc deterioration, and another surgery on her ankle to repair scar tissue and a tendon. During this whole journey, she and her husband lost all four of their parents. Pain upon pain, grief upon grief.

During all the months of non-weight bearing, long painful recoveries from three surgeries and no exercise–the mom gained weight and several sizes. Feeling like a disappointment to a lot of people, she began to feel shame. Never mind the awful two-year journey of brokenness. The shame crept in and built a box around her so she began to shrink to fit.

Shame: Less Than, Not Enough

Of course the mom is me. And it took me a long time to figure out why I had gradually fallen into feeling less than, not enough, with nothing to share, and better off hiding from blogging and Social Media. My weight and size became the full measure of my worth on those platforms. To deepen the shame, I run a huge, successful business in a health and wellness company. The supplements helped tremendously with my health throughout the journey and it’s not their fault I gained weight. But still…I felt it hurt my credibility so….more hiding.

Now here we are. I’m just now recovering enough physically and emotionally to work on losing weight. But I had to be vulnerable and tell the story NOW, to break the power of the lies and to encourage those of you feeling shame and embarrassment and less than and the need to hide for whatever reason. 

Sneaky Beliefs

Beliefs can sneak up on you. Even if you thought you dealt with that stuff long ago, thoughts can come creeping back in a little at a time, until they’re deeply embedded as a belief and they feel real and familiar. Thoughts lead to emotions, and emotions lead to actions, so those secret beliefs do show up in what we do and don’t do. They squeeze us into a box so we stay small and they torment us with their lies.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Theodore Roosevelt

This is one of my favorite quotes. We almost always come up short when we constantly compare ourselves with others. We make assumptions about the expectations of others, too. We’re so busy shrinking and hiding and assuming, we don’t realize that the people who matter love us and see all the good things we have to offer the world with no weight restrictions.

The internet and Social Media are amazing tools to connect with the world and influence for good. But the dark side is that those same tools create insecurity and shame as we compare our rough draft with everyone else’s carefully edited presentation.

Shining the Light on Shame

A life-changing conversation with a good friend woke me up. Bingo! It was like turning on the light in a dark room. The scary monster in the corner turned out to be a robe slung over a chair. My current size and decidedly non-Instagrammable 58 years don’t diminish my worth or the value of what I share to help and encourage women.

What does this mean for the blog and Social Media? I’m pretty darn excited to be set free from the cardboard box that I didn’t realize I was sitting in. This begins a new season of bringing joy and creativity and fun to you through some new topics, with new-to-the-blog tools like video. We’ll walk through some hard things, too, but always with hope and encouragement.

Thanks for walking this journey with me. I’m guessing that you have your own box. Let’s turn on the light and expose the lies that keep you shrink-wrapped in there. Climb out of there and let’s be free together. It sure beats a stuffy old cardboard box.

Tips From a Mom of 12

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You'll love this free guide with simple secrets from a Mom of 12. You won't feel "less than" with these tips, you'll be encouraged!

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37 thoughts on “Set Free From a Box”

  1. Miss Charlotte, thank you for sharing this today! You blessed my heart and helped me feel like I’m not only not alone, but that I can climb out of my own box. “The shame crept in and built a box around her so she began to shrink to fit.” Oh, what a wonderful description! I hadn’t even realized I was shrinking to fit my box until I read your words. Bless you for your courage!

  2. Hello, Charlotte, from a fellow mother of 12! Thanks so much for sharing your journey. I appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and pray that your recovery from all these surgeries (and from the forced inactivity that accompanied them) will be steady and complete. I imagine lots and lots of your subscribers would love to send you words of support and encouragement. If this comment section doesn’t reflect that fact, it’s probably because the “comment here” link in your newsletter sadly led us to a 404 page. Sorry about that! I had to dig a little to find this blog post on my own.

    1. Jennifer! Another mom of 12! Thanks for letting me know, I fixed the link and re-sent the newsletter. Sorry about that!

  3. You spoke to my heart in more ways than you will ever know. Thank you so much for opening up and being vulnerable. I look forward to walking with you in the upcoming struggles as I am right there with you. Thank you!

    1. Sometimes it’s hard to click “Publish”! But I’m glad I did if it helped you! We have a good journey ahead.

  4. What a courageous post! Thank you. Congratulations on your anniversary! May your journey towards healing be steady.

  5. Your message brought tears to my eyes and, yes, I want out of this box too! Thank you!
    God is with us and God bless you!

  6. Thank you for your beautiful vulnerability, Charlotte! IT’s so hard to lose those we love and then learn how to navigate through that grief journey. You just had difficulty upon difficulty heaped upon you. It seems like the perfect opportunity to show your self grace. But oh, how I understand finding yourself in that box of shame instead. I’ve been there too many times in my life and have found myself there again this year. We are not defined by our size or appearance or even our abilities to deal with our size or appearance. You have opened up a beautiful space for women to find freedom from this shame and see the truth that our worth is not dependent on how we look. Thank you for the reminder to hang on to the truth!!!

    1. You’re right, our worth doesn’t fluctuate with our weight! Good reminder for us all! I think I was shocked at how those thoughts had taken hold and I’m so grateful for how God brought it to my attention. <3

  7. Thanks for this–it is lovely. Every single person goes through something like this, at least to some extent. No one’s journey is completely smooth and without mishap. I have been doing a class on the Boundaries book, and just last night was explaining how falling, redirection, and restarting is part of the process. Not an enjoyable part, of course, but even in failure there is so much growth. We can never expect to learn a new thing without some mis-ka-bobbles! The difficulties teach us more about ourselves and about life. They show us again how helpless we are on our own, and how much we need to rely on God. Thanks for your honest testimony and for getting back UP. That’s what matters! <3 Much love to you!

    1. Ronda. Great perspective! I have definitely learned about myself and the thoughts to be vigilant about. Haha love that word mis-ka-bobbles! 🙂

  8. Thanks for your transparency, Charlotte. It is truly the story of many women, me included. Shame because of weight, and dealing with grief have both been a part of my life over many years. Thank you for sharing. Just so you’ll know, you are still my hero. No pressure, though! Lol Love you!

  9. Thank you, Charlotte, for your vulnerability and transparency. I too have struggled. I spent 7 excruciating weeks 18 months ago, caring for my newly born grandchild, her sister, our son and daughter-in-law who suffered severely with postpartum anxiety and depression which lead to her being readmitted to the hospital. During this time there was no time for anything…sure not exercise. When I returned home, I was exhausted mentally, physically, and spiritually. I found myself limping through my exercise routine. I stopped caring about holding my tummy in and my posture suffered. I gained a relatively minor amount of weight to most, but I’m not very tall and to me it felt BIG. My cholesterol jumped up at my last physical and I just felt YUCK.

    I am back! This summer I began walking. Yesterday was my first t-tapp day back. I’m holding myself tight when I sit and stand and boy am I sore! LOL It amazes me that after all these years it still kicks my booty! LOL

    We have seasons in our lives that require all we have every moment of every day. At those times we need to extend ourselves as much grace as we eagerly extend others.

    If it helps, I have never equated your value with your size. You are an amazing woman in every sense and I, for one, and glad and thankful that you are out of hiding!

    I love you,
    Janie

    1. Wow, Janie, that was a demanding season for you and your family, and I’m sure there was a season of recovery afterwards. Soooo true we need to extend ourselves grace! I would have counseled another woman to do so, yet I wasn’t doing it for myself. So grateful to be aware and taking thoughts captive now! Thank you for your faithful friendship and grace for so many years!!

  10. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. Certainly resonated with me. As we journey through life’s trials and tribulations it is easy to allow what happens to us begin to define us. But sharing in community we can help one another recognize the beauty that lies within. You have always done that for your followers, so we hope, now, you can see your own beauty and the value you bring to us with your words. Welcome back! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!

    1. Okay, getting this far down in the comments is starting to really touch my heart. As in, choked up. Thank you, Diane. Means so much.

  11. Wow! Trish Townsend’s comments are echoed by me. You have had an incredibly difficult journey and you are still you! You don’t know how many times you inspired me–and I am right there with you–tearing that box open! Keep going–you are such an incredible woman!

  12. You are such a blessing Charlotte, you have been through so much in such a short period of time, everyone likes to shout from a mountaintop but it takes guts and strength to admit to the valleys and talk about the lessons learned in a not so great experience, that’s when we can truly learn the very hard lesson to count it all joy, when the things of this life are not shiny object lessons for social media posts. I have learned that anyone’s life can take a drastic turn in a moment and to walk by faith is essential in the times you find yourself in a box, for me a very social person by nature it is very difficult to be in a place of quiet reflection but sometimes through my circumstances that is where I am found I am the person who has mistaken my Time Outs from society either due to health issues or raising our children and taking care of our grandchildren as a “holding period” soon life will be back to Normal attitude lol However these times we have walked through as a family have become a necessary learning experience, my eyes have been opened and my faith has grown, sometimes things have to happen for us to truly experience the closeness God has to offer.

    1. So true! It was a long “hidden” season that wasn’t pretty or fit for Social Media! Strangely enough, I actually learned a lot about gratitude–sometimes it was all I could muster. Grateful for the lessons…but grateful for coming out of that long season…

  13. This is such an important statement. The words we say to ourselves have such power. Thanks for reminding all of us that we are valuable and important beyond what is external.

    1. Yes! We believe what we speak to ourselves! Little by little I built that box with my thoughts– without realizing it. (and it’s about time for us to do lunch again!)

  14. I have been following you for a around two years. I was so inspired when I heard your story but even more inspired to hear more of it. Thank you for sharing the raw truth and being vulnerable. I look forward to reading more! God bless you!!

  15. Thank you Charlotte for being vulnerable and transparent. Comparison is something I fought for years ago and still do from time to time. I’ve learned the enemy will do whatever he can to steal our joy.
    I love you and your blog. You inspire me daily and congratulations on finding your way out of the box!

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