Thoughts By Natalie

So Much More Than a Pumpkin Latte

Though no doubt some of you will want to know the outfit details for what I’m wearing in this photo (I promise I’ll include them at the end!), today I want to set aside fashion for a moment and get real. I love fashion and style and expressing myself through what I wear, but only because I feel comfortable in my skin and the freedom in my life to be who I want to be.

Because it’s the first day of September and the beginning of “pumpkin latte season,” I’m going to take you on a trip down memory lane, to a place in my past that I don’t often share but has shaped every bit of my life today…

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia. I was a college student experiencing loss and tragedy and uncertainty and it became the way I coped with my experiences. Having never struggled with body image until that point in my life, it was strange to feel my mind become consumed with food and calories and exercise and my body. Though when it started I found comfort in feeling a sense of control over my life, eventually it became clear that the eating disorder controlled me. No longer could I make choices for myself (or so it felt)—my life and choices were dictated by a small voice in my head leading me down a life-threatening path.

Since I’m writing this now, you know that those behaviors and that disorder are well behind me—I truly feel like that girl was a different person. I feel compassion for her and empathize with her pain and struggle, but have separated myself from that identity for so long she seems like someone other than myself. And that’s part of the reason the pumpkin latte means so much to me.

For so long I was terrified of calories and “bad food” that I had never tried a pumpkin latte (among other things), even years into my recovery process. Then on my 24th birthday, a friend who I worked with brought one to work for me (having no idea that I’d been “afraid” of drinking them for years). I sat and looked at the latte on my desk for a bit, debating what to do with it.

I’m sure this is a strange concept to any of you reading this who have always had a normal relationship with food, and even today it seems a little nuts to me. But at that time in my life, taking just a sip of it felt like something that would completely unhinge me and I felt nervous. After all of the years of hard work and healing I’ve experienced and the freedom from calorie restriction I now live in, I second-guessed whether I would drink it.

Maybe I shouldn’t have it. Maybe I should only drink half of it. Or, maybe I should just leave the past where it belongs, and enjoy the delicious treat on my desk.

I’m thankful to say, I decided on the latter option. I told that little voice in the back of my head to be quiet, and reminded myself that it had no place to speak into my life anymore. And then, I took a sip. And another sip, and another, and 30 minutes later I found myself finishing off the very last drop. It was scary, but it was absolutely worth it.

Since then, I get a pumpkin latte for myself at least once a month during the fall, but always on my birthday as a reminder of where I’ve been, how thankful I am to be free from such a debilitating disorder, and the beautiful way that God can redeem nasty pasts and use the struggles in our lives for good.

I don’t know how many of you will relate to what I’ve shared, but my hope is that even one of you will find comfort in my story. After all, isn’t that the purpose of pain and struggle in our lives—to help those who are walking down the difficult paths we’ve crossed and conquered?

P.S. I’m wearing a Merona top (similar), Madewell jeans (similar), Warby Parker shades, a Madewell tote (c/o), and a brand new tassel necklace I’ll be releasing in the Natalie Borton shop soon!


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  • Maggie
    September 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! This story really resonated with me, as it’s pretty close to my own. It’s funny the way that we try to control things, even those that obviously cannot be controlled (such as personal loss, which also triggered my issues). It’s very comforting, even after years in recovery, to know that you are not alone in your journey.

    Cheers to you and your pumpkin spice latte!

    • Corinne Noelle
      September 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Such BEAUTIFUL story Natalie! Thank you for sharing! I love visiting your blog and checking out your style! It has been so inspiring to me! God is a BIG God who loves his children and I am so happy that you have found peace and joy! God heals in mighty ways and his grace is overflowing! He has CHANGED my life in a dramatic way!

      Thank you again for being brave and sharing a part of your heart and your story with us!

      Enjoy your fall and all those yummy PSL!

  • Anna
    September 1, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Oh, do I know this feeling! I used to be “scared” of bananas. To this day they bring back those memories of restriction and fear. Thanks for your sweet story, and as Maggie said above: cheers!

  • AshleyL
    September 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    I can totally relate. I pretty much was afraid of all and any sugar including fruit. It was ridiculous. Pregnancy changed everything for me and I thank god everyday for my sweet girls who have changed my life for the better. It’s amazing that you’re so disconnected from your former disorder. I still have days where it slips in and I have to remind myself that I don’t want to be that person anymore. Honestly I also just don’t have the time to obsess over that stuff anymore either!

  • Justine
    September 1, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I know the exact feelings you describe: My forbidden treat was actually the pumpkin scone at Starbucks! (If that place only knew the angst it caused.) Good for you in learning to recognize the unhealthy cycle and find your way out. And I love the outfit too

  • Lisa Schober
    September 1, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for being so brave to post this. You are helping so many women who are currently struggling or have struggled in the past. I can completely relate. My forbidden food was French Fries. So many people tried to get me to get them through the high school and college and I wouldn’t budge. I found a passion for running after college and it completely tranformed by way of thinking. Running created an outlet for all my worries and anxiety. Running and giving birth to my son gave me a whole new perspective on how amazing the human body is. Now I am in a MUCH better place and allow myself to treat myself while respecting and honoring my body.

    Thank you again for sharing your story. You are an inspiration.

  • Alyssa
    September 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Oh man. Yes yes and yes. I had an eating disorder for years too and can relate in every way to this post. Praise God for healing and freedom!! And pumpkin spice lattes!

  • Laura
    September 1, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Thank you for being so open and honest in your adventures. I am sure this post has helped others. Cheers to many more pumpkin lattes.

  • Elsa
    September 1, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Beautiful post. Thank you for your honesty. My relationship with food has been so defining in my life, always trying to lose weight for the wrong reasons and through the wrong methods. One of my goals for my daughter is to raise her eating healthy and enjoying every single bite. Eating is a pleasure for the senses and we are so privileged, compared to the embarrassing number of people starving to death.

    Anyway, your struggles have made you much wiser and stronger. Congrats! ;)

    XO, Elsa

  • Lauren Tien
    September 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Natalie, these real posts are my very favorite. As a long time reader of your blog, it’s truly refreshing when you share your heart. And I love that you get a latte on your birthday as a reminder of how far you’ve come. :)

  • Amy
    September 3, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Natalie, I have always been a fan of your writing and this is a great example why. Thank you for this post. It came at a very good time for me.

    (I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice lattes (gasp!) but I bought a chocolate bar in celebration of what you wrote here. Here’s to freedom.)

  • Kristin
    September 3, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    This is so brave and so well said. Thank you!

  • Ali Grace
    September 5, 2016 at 8:54 am

    This post is wonderful, and I can definitely relate. I’m so thankful that God redeems and heals all kinds of broken places in our pasts.
    Also – this outfit is EVERYTHING. #denimandwhiteforlife

  • Kara
    September 7, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Thanks for sharing this – I had a similar experience. Never was diagnosed, and probably wasn’t as serious as many people, but I hadn’t had a PSL until I was dating the guy who would become my husband! Now I get at least one every fall. Sometimes I can’t believe what I was missing out on… other times I’m so happy with where I am now that I feel like I wouldn’t change a thing :)