Wednesday, January 25, 2017

And So It Begins

If you had the chance to go back and do high school again, would you? The answer for me is a big NO! I guess if I could take what I know today and go back and make different choices, I may consider it. But that is only a maybe. I absolutely mean it when I say that those 4 years were some of the most painful and difficult of my life. I left my small school and best friend behind (she is a year younger than me) and entered the crazy world of the unknown. For some people this may have been an opportunity for a fresh start and believe me I was initially hopeful that is what my future held. But I was lost in the crowd, the chaos and my own self debt. I thought I was doing the right things to be successful. I joined a fall sport. I was nice to people, at least I thought. (I look back now and realize that maybe my shyness and insecurity came off as cold or stuck up. I see it in oldest daughter. No wonder people would comment on the dirty looks I didn't even know I was giving. Sorry I guess I can't control the face.) Going to class and practice wasn't the tough part. It was the time in between, the passing periods, morning break and the most difficult of all...lunch. I couldn't tell you what I did that first day at lunch. Senior lawn, Juniors over here, sophomores over there, freshman? It was hard enough to figure out where to go let alone doing it alone. There was a girl I became good friends with on my field hockey team but she had a large tribe already and it wasn't easy to just join in. I remember feeling relieved at seeing a girl that lived up the street and thinking I could hang out with her and her friends. They had no problem letting me tag along but there was only a few of them and things like smoking cigarettes out of a soda can wasn't really my scene. I guess I didn't really have a scene at that point but I knew that I didn't want what they had to offer. So most days it was wondering around, probably not eating trying to look like I had some place I belonged. 

Sophomore year couldn't come fast enough as that meant my BFF and I would be reunited. I am happy to say that we are still BFF's today and I don't know how I would have survived with out her. Now I at least had some one to hang out with at lunch even if it was a bunch of freshman. I don't remember how this next phase all started but our group expanded. A couple couple sophomore guys joined in as everyone was starting the whole dating thing. I found myself with my first real boyfriend. A guy who seemed to know everybody but wasn't exactly in with the academics or jocks. My luck was changing. I now had a crew and a boyfriend. If I only had known how quickly my life was about to change. 

My church youth group went to a music festival for a few days and when I returned my boyfriend was convinced something had happened while I was up there. He questioned me for hours at a time, late into the night. My bedroom was right next to my parents at the time and I remember trying to talk quietly so they wouldn't hear me as I endured his interrogation. One particular night I gave in to every little detail he wanted to know. I had not cheated on him but he felt I had not behaved in the way I should have and the name calling began instantly. I sat there crying and apologizing when I should have just hung up the phone. The phone call that night turned in to not stop verbal abuse. I was called the most horrible things and yet I stayed. I answered the phone when it rang and allowed myself to be verbally assaulted. As much as it hurt in my mind I thought I can't hang up. It's rude to hang up on people. Mind you, I have to loving parents and was not brought up in this kind of environment so where I got the idea this ok or I deserved to be treated this way I'll never know. I can picture being on the phone in my bedroom and wanting to punch my hand through the window to take some of my emotional pain away. Or being on the phone in the kitchen the first time I was driven to think that maybe suicide was the solution. (I believe now that my Lyme Disease played a role in the anger and depression I was dealing with) At some point I had the nerve to call it quits and we broke up. It didn't end the control he had over me at this point. I was scared and I thought if I could just keep him happy, tell him what he wanted to know he would leave me alone. But nothing worked. I was stalked and harassed. Our mailbox was blown up and bashed in. He tracked me, my BFF, and a couple guy friends down one night where him and his friends followed us, he jumped on my car and made references to having a gun in the car. 

On particular night he found me at the mall with a girlfriend talking to another guy. He pinned me up against the wall, punched it next to my face and threatened to jump off the second story. He followed us to my car and when we thought he was gone my friend and I headed back in the mall. Before we knew it he was chasing me across the parking lot and my friend and I got separated. She called my parents frantic that the last she saw was me being chased. (This was before cell phones mind you) I was finally reunited with my parents and my friend. The craziness continued. Regular threats of suicide and when I would call to let his family know I was told if I wouldn't make him made he wouldn't be doing this. The final straw was my senior year when he paid someone to start a fight with another guy at school I had gone out with. I found my self at the court house getting a temporary restraining order until we could go to court. After our hearing a 3 year restraining order was granted. That certainly didn't do anything for my popularity although at this point the rumors and lies he spread about me had already solidified my place alone. My self confidence continued it's downward spiral. My senior year I gave up playing any sports. I left school with out the varsity letter and lettermans jacket I had dreamed about.

While the piece of paper ordering him to stay away from me, my family, my house and my work helped a little bit it couldn't stop the mental anguish I now suffered. I was constantly afraid I was being followed and believe me there were plenty of incidents to back up the fact that that was indeed happening. I was worried non stop. He had his friend come by my work one night and question me on all sorts of things while he sat in the parking lot. Not to long after that he showed up at my work with a date. I was almost physically sick and scared for my life as I hid in the back room and called the police. He was arrested a short time later.

I did have a few random incidents that I don't know who was responsible for, one of which was a phone call telling me they were in my driveway watching me and if I hung up they were going to kill me. This whole thing has been a big struggle in the area of my faith. I try to convince myself I have forgiven him but I think deep down inside I haven't fully. Forgiving someone for such horrible things when they have never said they are sorry is not an easy thing, It is definitely something I pray about and continue to work on today. I still carry fears in the back of my mind that he may come back. While I have absolutely no evidence to support my fears they are there none the less. Strange calls, cars following me for too long...I am working so hard to break free from these chains that bind me. I know by not forgiving and living in fear I am not trusting God and I am only hurting myself. Again easier said than done but things I am working on.

The profound effect those years had on my self confidence are indescribable.  I just wanted to feel liked and accepted one time. As hard as I tried to go out and become this confident successful person the lies I had been told by others and the ones I told myself were winning the war. They have continued to wage a war in my head everyday. I've caught myself continually seeking others people approval and just wanting other people to be happy. I always seemed to have more guy friends than girl friends but I wasn't the one they wanted to date.

It make me sad to think that I am almost 40 years old and only know am I beginning to see just how damaging this mindset has been. More importantly I realize that I have a God that loves me unconditionally and created me just the way I am for a reason. It's easy for me to tell others how much they are loved, and how special they are and that God has big plans for them but it has not been easy to believe those things myself. Since my experience in high school I have always wanted to share with other young woman so they could avoid those same mistakes I made and they could see their value in being a child of God. I think one of the big turning points for me this last 6 months is looking at my 13 year old daughter and seeing how desperately she needs this message as she gets ready to head off to high school next year.

Through some soul searching, some time with God, some personal development and the blessing of meeting my Beachbody coach Courtney I am beginning to see the value in me and the value in my story. I am far from perfect and I have a long way still to go in my healing and the change in my mindset but I don't want to wait any longer. After some difficult events for my family this past year in addition the the continual stories in the news of these young people being bullied and committing suicide, or other self destructive behaviors I realize it is selfish of me to not share my pain and my transformation. What if...what if just one person benefit from knowing they are not alone in their struggle, that other people have been there, that other people do care...what if.

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.- Ephesians 2:10

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