An interview with survivor Sarah Bragg
I’ve spoken a lot about survival, but I’ve come to learn that its meaning can’t really be defined. Is it to move forward? Is it to overcome something? Is it to fight? Is it to flight? Who knows, but one thing is for sure – as long as we have a heartbeat, we’re surviving. I spoke to a survivor, Sarah, author of ‘Body, Beauty, Boys: The Truth about Girls and how We See Ourselves’. She beat a destructive eating disorder from finding self-contentment through faith, a mentor and the love for her children. After finding her voice, her goal has been to help other women find theirs with her very own podcast. She’s a remarkable woman who has a way with words. Here is her story…
Could you share your personal experience of ‘survival’?
When I think of the concept of survival, several moments come to mind. Surviving school. Surviving heartbreak. Surviving rejection. Surviving loss of dreams. Surviving Sinclair – my strong willed child. But one of the greatest survivals for myself was surviving in an image obsessed world. Before I was 10 years old, I never gave my body a second thought. I had no need to think that my body was less than perfect. But something happened to me when I was 10 at a seemingly innocent pool party that changed all of that.
As I sat by the pool alone and outside of the group, the float I played with popped. One girl who clearly was the leader of the pack turned, laughed and said, “Sarah is so fat she popped the float.” That was the first moment that I was aware of my imperfect body. And from that point forward, I did whatever it took to not be laughed at again because of my appearance. That moment. Those words. They placed me on a path of obsession and destruction.
For the next 10 years, my life and thoughts were consumed with my appearance. I tried everything to lose weight and keep it off. I would starve myself or throw up or over exercise. Anything to be “beautiful.”
Finally, over a decade later of struggle, I started to experience what freedom and contentment looked like. I began to learn what it meant to be content with who God made me to be. I began practicing contentment through gratitude for who I was apart from anything that others could say about me. And slowly but surely, I found myself on the other side as a survivor.
How did you find strength in your darkest moments?
In my darkest moments unable to see myself for who I really was, I relied on my faith in God, truth that had been implanted in me as a child and the accountability of trusted friends. It was there in my weakness that strength began to build. My mentor at the time looked at me and said, “For the sake of your future children, you have to stop. You don’t want your future children to struggle with their appearance like this. You have to learn freedom and contentment so that you can model that one day for them.” Up to that point, I had never thought about my future children and what my current selfish obsession could do to them. There was something in seeing beyond myself that catapulted me toward freedom.
What does it mean to ‘survive’?
I once heard someone say that life is ultimately defined by a heartbeat. That a brain-dead person is still essentially alive as long as there is a heartbeat. So, to have a heartbeat is to be alive. Sometimes surviving doesn’t mean that all is well. It doesn’t always mean that the problem is resolved. It doesn’t always mean that there has been deliverance. But having a beating heart is surviving. No matter what I’m walking through – good times or hard times – I am still surviving. My heart’s still beating. I will one day come to the other side of whatever I’m surviving. And when that day comes, I’ll take the lessons learned from that and use it tomorrow to encourage others and to remind myself. That to me is surviving.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
For me, finding my voice in each season of life has been a great achievement. My voice looked different when I was in my twenties and single than it does now that I’m nearly 40, married with kids. The greatest achievement though was finding my voice again after it had been lost for nearly 4 years. After it had been crushed by others. Walking through the darkness of wondering if I’d ever contribute to the world again in the ways in which I enjoy was frightening and paralyzing. But starting my podcast, Surviving Sarah, has brought such a sense of excitement and refreshment knowing that I have found my voice and I can use my voice in a way to help other women be encouraged, inspired and entertained to survive in their own lives.
What puts a smile on your face?
I take great delight in the little things. My daughters walking into school with backpacks nearly larger than themselves. Or how the sky is painted different shades of pink and orange as the sun sets. Or sitting across the table from another woman as she shares her survival story. Recognizing beauty in the small things.
It’s true what Sarah says… no matter what times we go through, good or bad, we are all surviving. Of course it’s hard to forget about something and shake it off. Losing my father at a young age had a great impact on me, but it’s something I’ve learnt to accept and learn from. Despite the many people I’ve lost in my life, I stop and think about how many people I am lucky to have loved. And that is something that will always be eternal.
Thank you so much Sarah for sharing your story, it’s been incredibly thought-provoking. Your positivity that you inflict on others, is simply brilliant. Keep doing, what you’re doing!
Have you had an experience of survival? Share your story with me, for a chance to featured on Charlotte’s Compass. firstname.lastname@example.org