On All the Wins Nobody Sees: A Guest Post by Stephanie Gates

On All the Wins Nobody Sees
by Stephanie Gates of A Wide Mercy

My name is Stephanie, and I didn’t eat any brownies last Thursday.Those brownies sat on my counter all day long, and I didn’t eat a single one when nobody was looking. Not eating them was the most productive thing I did all day. I fought those brownies – and I won.

And nobody ever even knew about it.

Food is not a daily struggle for me. I mean, I’m not exactly lean. Four babies later, I’m twenty pounds – and a whole lot of muscle – from my ideal weight. But I’m not usually an emotional eater. When I look in the mirror, twenty extra pounds do not measure my worth. In my day-to-day life, food is not the cross I carry.

But this summer, one of my kids had a run-in with death. Thanks be to God, my child is fine, yet the experience threw my subconscious mind into a sort of primal survival mode. Eat sugar! All of it! Prepare yourself to survive the impending doom!

Since then, I’ve been fighting food. Every single day, all day long.

But I’m fighting food. I’m not losing to food, I’m fighting it. Every day I walk past breads, cakes or ice cream – any sugar, really – and tell myself, you aren’t in danger. You don’t need sugar. Your brain is confused. Keep moving. Most of the time, I don’t pick them up.

To tell you the truth, I’m pretty proud of myself. I’m not losing weight right now, but I’m not gaining either. There is a very real battle in my head right now, and I’m in the lead.

But nobody around me knows I’m engaged in a fight. Nobody knows what I don’t eat in a day.

Nobody knows right now I have to make a conscious decision to be healthy, emotionally and physically, about every ten minutes. I fight – and win! – all the time, but I never share my victories with my husband or friends. I just collect them. I collect them all. Each tiny win reminds me I can do this. I can stare at death and move back into life. My unnoticed achievements are me putting one foot in front of the other. They each lead me a half inch closer to peace.

Then I wonder, what battles are you winning right now?

What are you fighting no one ever sees? I wonder who among us is slowly, deliberately healing. Who is engaging unhealthy thoughts right now, making tiny but important decisions toward peace. Who is waking up the next morning, and deciding to fight all over again. Is that your story?

If so, come sit by me. Tell me what threw your life into primal survival mode. Tell me how you’re climbing back into the sunlight. I want to hear it all. Tell me your story, and I’ll tell you mine.

Because our victories may be silent, but we are not alone. We’re both fighting, you and I, and we are both going to win. I may have seen death this summer, but I’m not giving in to it. I’m going to keep inching closer to peace.

We’ll begin right here. My name is Stephanie, and last Thursday I didn’t eat a single brownie.


StephanieAWideMercyI am Stephanie – mom to four beautifully rambunctious little kids and wife to a guy who still makes me smile. Last spring I moved to Colorado, where I fell in love with the mountain air and the Anglican church. If you have ever abandoned religion in search of faith, ever had to leave your hometown to find your home, or ever climbed to the very tip-top of a jungle gym to rescue an overzealous toddler, come sit by me.  We’ll talk.

You can follow my story at A Wide Mercy or follow along on Facebook.  


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30 responses to “On All the Wins Nobody Sees: A Guest Post by Stephanie Gates”

  1. THank you so much for this post. I needed to read this. I battle food. Daily, hourly, more often. I am also battling PPD. I felt i was ok to go off my meds. i weaned and went through the withdrawls for a few days then a lot of emotional stuff happened and i spun out. I am on a 1/4 of the dose i was before and it is a constant struggle for me to feel happy. i dont feel sad, but i dont feel the “high” of being happy. I dont see my kids for who they are but i dont want to be on the meds. I battle daily and i am thankful to see i am not alone. Thank you

    • I wanted to share the post I just wrote above. Your beautiful, wise, and supportive post inspired me to write out my story. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Stephanie.

  2. Last night I started having anxiety attacks again. Bad enough to make me throw up, bad enough for me to want to die. Truly bad.

    The worst part was I desperately needed to cry, but couldn’t.

    Please pray for me; I really need it today.

  3. I love this idea. Silent battles. Our new son came home just under a year ago…and we thought all was well. And then it slowly dawned on us that his first few months (before he came to us) were not good. At all. Primal survival mode for us was starting trauma/attachment bootcamp with our sweet boy, while trying to let our older child know she was still loved and a priority. And there has been no sleep. He’s a “need to stay alert all night and scan the room” kinda guy. Things are looking up; he’s responding well to therapeutic parenting and a whole lot of being in my arms. And somehow, in the almost-year, my sweet older child has changed, and I can’t tell how I missed the changes or what was going on pre-brother, that I maybe didn’t see for what it was. But I think my oldest may be on the Spectrum. And it changes nothing about her, and lot about her future. We haven’t shared this with anyone and we’re still just watching and terrified for her..with moments of “she’s fine, whatever it is going on, she’s fine”. So our silent battle right now, is still working on our younger babe, while trying not to diagnose/categorize every single quirk in our older babe. And holy hell, I am eating like I’m storing up fat for twenty winters. It’s ridiculous.

    • The earlier you get your wonderful older child the better her outcomes will be! It is so scary when your child is demonstrating quirky/atypical behaviors (I know!) but I promise talking to your doctor and having professionals on your team will help with your anxiety and be helpful to your daughter and your family!

    • I dont know about you but when I am in the throes of battle with one of my kids I have a really hard time figuring out what theraputic needs another one has. I look at each child through the lens of what I am fighting with another. That is why it is so crazy for me to have two (or three) IEP meetings on the same day because if I am trying to solve things for one, I get confused when talking about another. All that to say ~~ I know you know the earlier you get therapies the better… but you are fighting a fire with the younger and you need to fight the fire and not be led to feel guilty that you are not giving both kids top billing. The older has a lot of things going for her… she has been with you longer and you are seeing her even though you are fighting a fire. The time will come to get her into therapy (or not ~~ she could just be reacting to what she is seeing with little brother). She will have top billing when that is the right thing for you and your family. Right now, duck and cover and slog through and love your family. It will be OK. Really.

  4. I have fought some sort of a battle all my life. These last two years God has turned things around. It is a daily battle but one I win because God is fighting for me. ME! Never lose hope in the midst of your battles. You are stronger than you think! God mad you in his image so fight like He is fighting for you!

  5. Thanks so much for sharing that. I am an emotional eater and unfortunately I don’t always say no. Thanks for reminding me that I can do better.

  6. Hi, Stephanie. My name is Erin, and I do not shrink back from touching things (doorknobs, elevator buttons, chairs in offices and restaurants) even though my emetophobia screams that I will contract norovirus and puke until I die.

  7. My daily battle is trust. Trusting God that HE IS in control.
    I have had headaches daily for a month,
    my eye sight has gone downhill fast ,
    I am not my normal self as I function throughout the day
    My energy is ZIP and I want to hide out and sleep.
    I am afraid of what MIGHT be going on, and sometimes many times a day
    I have to stop my thoughts and realize that I just need to TRUST.

    Sometimes I battle food but right now … I battle fear.

    • May God give you peace. I hope fear isn’t keeping you from getting medical care. It did for me for a while. Not putting yourself in a place where a doctor might say scary words also keeps healing at bay. Sometimes the scariest words aren’t the ones you would hear. Do what might bring hope and healing, please. Grab a friend’s hand and chase hope.

  8. Beautiful post, Stephanie. I am fighting anxiety at the moment, a lifetime downward spiral made much worse by PTSD after the birth of my son. I can’t really define my silent battles, since they are with myself, but your post has buoyed me up to face another day. Thank you x

  9. I started keep a small notebook for just this sort of thing. At the end of the day I could fill a BOOK with all the things I did wrong as a mom. All the times I lost my temper, wasn’t patient, didn’t listen… But I never remember the things I did right. The hugs I gave, the owies I fixed, the tears I dried. So last week I started keeping track.
    “Cleaned up the mess instead of yelling.”
    “Read “one more book” at story time.”
    “Gave them the last cookie I was sneaking.”
    It feels so good to write down all the ways I’m an awesome mom. It’s helping to quiet that voice at the end of the day that tells me I suck.

  10. I love it! All I know about parenting is having preemies, and one of the most difficult parts of having tiny babies is the fear that you will lose them. It has changed me, forever. Being a mother and loving another human being with more ferocity than you thought possible is hard enough, but facing the death of your child shapes you in a separate and profound way. And you’re so right. There are battles won every day that no one sees, and I’m not sure I give myself credit for those. Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate the post, your candor, and your excellent writing!

  11. Thank you for acknowledging the silent fights. I live and work around lots of people who fight their fights very vocally (no judgement here, just different personalities), and often it seems that they forget that I am fighting too just because I am not vocal. Then it starts to feel like no one realizes that life can be really, really tough for me too, just because I fight silently. So, thank you, thank you thank you for letting me know that you know I may be fighting silently 🙂
    Oh and my fight today, I didn’t let myself get really, really grumpy about my crappy job. I managed to stay looking on the bright side, which, right now is a serious win!!

  12. I read this post while eating M&Ms for breakfast. What has put me in primal survival mode is a divorce, single parenting a beautiful 2 year old (I love her dearly, but did I mention that she’s 2?), an ex who thinks his life goal is to torment me, looking for work, and there’s probably something else that I’m forgetting.

    • Kelly – I’m waving to you in the dark…..separation (I think one of the best choices I ever made), single parenting 3 kids, and looking for a job. But it’s almost bedtime and everyone is still in one piece…..so survival mode gets a win for today! Prayers for you tonight…..

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