If you asked me to tell you my testimony again as I was 18 years old…graduating High School and starting College, my story would have been a little different.
My Mom was no longer the church secretary and my Dad no longer served at our church. My Mom and I were still at church every opportunity and participated in all of our same activities as before but now it was just the two of us. We had become very close in those past 3 years as we learned to depend on each other for just about everything. Sometimes, we depended on each other for too much. I just wanted my Mom to be happy and I tried everything to make that happen. This was more pressure than a teenager should have to face. I know that my Mom had no idea that I felt that way because she never would have willingly put me into that position.
I was sometimes tempted to revert back to cutting but I knew that I had left that behind. It was as if once I knew it was a self-destructive behavior, it was wrong to go back to it. But I could find something else and “pretend” like I didn’t know what I was doing was hurting me. Basically, I was lying to myself…just not very well. It started before my Dad left. I would just not eat, or just act like I was eating enough to not raise suspicions. Again, they were so wrapped up in their own issues, they didn’t really notice mine. Until my Mom took me clothes shopping my Junior year of High School and nothing fit. I was tall but skin and bones. It got worse when my Dad moved out-of-state and I couldn’t see him at all. My mom and I were trying to live on her income which was never enough. She had been left with destroyed credit from their divorce. We had no place to live so various friends of my Mom let us stay with them. Here I was in High School, bouncing from house to house with my Mom. We were usually crashing in the homes of my classmates…and sometimes they were the “cool kids” that I wasn’t necessarily friends with myself. Yeah, that didn’t really help my reputation at school. Again, life in chaos, I sought something I could control. I could control what I did or did not eat. By the time I graduated High School, I was 5’6″ tall and I weighed 95 pounds. My Mom had asked the Assistant Principal to randomly check on me at lunch to make sure I was actually eating my lunch. So, usually lunch was the only meal I would eat during the day. I could make excuses at night around her that I had snacked after school or eaten with friends. Breakfast early in the morning made me “sick”. Whatever I had to do to avoid food. The more negative comments I received from people noticing how skinny I was getting, the more in control I felt. At least this I was doing to myself. At least this was taking the focus off of the other horrible things they could be saying about me. Things that I couldn’t help. I couldn’t change the fact that we had no money, or a house of our own. I couldn’t suddenly afford the trendy clothes or nice cars. I couldn’t fix my nose or hair color. I was fair skinned with auburn hair…features that coincidentally enough are now quite a popular trend that people pay good money to achieve. But at 16, 17, or 18 years old in High School, these are the things that we let define us. I struggled with my definition and I wanted to change it so desperately. I was just looking in all of the wrong places.
Then came college…A whole new world of possibilities. A whole new world of people and experiences. I could be whatever and whoever I wanted to be. These people didn’t know my past. They didn’t know how many couches of cool kids I had slept on before. They didn’t care how much money my Mom made, or what kind of car I drove. We all lived in the same apartments (sort of), walked to class, and all that mattered was learning and experiencing. I made friends and got to know old friends so much better. I got to know myself. I got to know food again. I got healthier again. I still struggled with control…and during stress that was always my first coping mechanism. I hated that about myself for a long time. I wouldn’t learn that lesson for several more years…you’ll have to wait for that one. Unfortunately, college did not bring me closer in my faith. Just like I said, I found MYSELF not God. I was obviously still a Christian. Jesus doesn’t leave us, but we can definitely try to leave Him. We can try not to hear His voice. I wasn’t living at home anymore or near my home church and I made no attempts at finding one close to school…much to my Mom’s dismay. I know this broke her heart a little. School was only about 30 minutes from home and she would always ask me to come home and go to church with her but after being out with friends on Saturday night, nothing sounded worse. Not to mention, my guilty conscience. I chose that path and I have regrets but I learned from them.
During all of my twists and turns, my Mom was always there. We talked at least once a day. My friends would joke because we would hang up the phone and then it would usually ring again within seconds because she would remember something else she wanted to tell me. I’d sit by the phone and wait for the second call…always. We fought like banshee but I never doubted that she loved me like a bear loves her cub. My Mom could be gently explaining the rudeness of wearing white shoes after Labor Day and then someone mistreat me and without skipping a beat, she could take them down to a mud puddle with a simple look. I trusted her opinions and beliefs and I knew that nothing bad could ever happen to me as long as she was there to stop it or fix it. That’s what Moms do, they fix things.
But what happens when the something that needs to be fixed is your Mom?
There is still more to my story…
To be continued…