Now that I’ve made the decision to take math in the fall, I suddenly have time again. The pile of books I want to read has been accumulating, and as anyone who has taken a college course knows, required reading can kill a love of reading in general. I refuse to let that happen! I’ve continued to read for pleasure, but it takes me forever to finish a book when all I can manage is a chapter before I fall asleep. Being sick and having time led me to pick up a book a friend gave me, “confessions of a raging perfectionist,” by Amanda Jenkins. Our stories might be different, but I’d swear she was reading my mind. She even writes like I think and speak. This book helped push me into starting to share my story. Yesterday I read the first four chapters, then immediately wrote and posted the first part. It was really a God thing. It was like I had to do it. So I did. And I’m really glad I did.
Today I read another few chapters in the book and in the chapter on testimony, Amanda writes, “transparency is the necessary starting place for testimony, not to mention relationship…” There it is. Another reason I need to continue sharing my story. I’m telling you, if you are open to hearing what God is saying to you, you will hear Him everywhere. My testimony is my story, and it needs to be told, if only for my own benefit.
Relationships are hard for me. I have a tendency to ache for close, honest relationships with people, but not trust them to not hurt me, so I hold people at arms length, which is counter productive. We learn about relationships early on, but the practice of forming relationships comes into play in a big way during our teenage and young adult years. That would be the hell known as middle and high school. These were not good years for me. Although, I don’t think middle school is kind to anyone. I don’t have many specific memories of those years, but rather an impression of being anxious and unhappy a lot of the time. There was the normal teasing in middle school (one boy gave me the nickname of fish lips…I have no recollection why, just that I hated that name.) Now, looking back, this photo is proof that I probably deserved some sort of teasing. Those glasses?!? That hair?!?
Seriously, middle school is just awful. The best thing that came out of middle school is that I met my best friend. Up until 6th grade I had been pretty sheltered in private school. All of the sudden I was thrust into the big, bad world of public school and it’s mean, name-calling kids. This next part really dates me, and proves my nerdy status even back then. I would listen to Amy Grant on my Walkman on the bus with my headphones on to drown out the drama. One day a girl was bold enough to ask me what I was listening to. I told her, and she said she was a Christian and listened to Amy Grant too, and the rest is best-friend history. Barb and I are still great friends to this day! I do have some good memories of times with her in Spring City, Pennsylvania, and she was my rock through our years at Spring-Ford High.
When I got to high school, things really started to change in regards to relationships. I got a boyfriend who was much older than I was, and since I already thought I was “damaged goods” you can imagine how that all played out. He placed a high value on how I looked and acted, and constantly told me I needed to watch my weight. Being young and dumb, I believed him. Which led to me spending the bulk of my high school years, even after he was history, counting every fat gram and calorie I consumed. I was very proud of myself for staying under 10 grams of fat a day most of my entire senior year. I was committed. I was thin, sick a lot, but still saw myself as fat when I looked in the mirror. I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder. I didn’t binge and purge like some friends with bulimia did, and I didn’t truly starve myself so I wasn’t anorexic, but my unhealthy eating habits have taken their toll on my health, both physically and psychologically.
Throughout high school I had four steady boyfriends, not at the same time mind you. Things pretty much went the same in each relationship, because until you change, you are doomed to repeat the mistakes you bring to the table. Instead of finding my identity in Christ, I found my identity in what I was good at (working with kids), and who I was dating. When I dated a hockey player, I learned to play hockey and wear goalie gear and have pucks shot at me. When I dated a BMX biker/skate boarder who was into Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and the Cure, I shaved the back of my head and hung out on the hood of the car and watched for cops so he and his buddies could do their tricks in the parking lots of closed businesses. I was still a pretty good kid though. No drugs or alcohol for me, which is only by God’s grace, because with all my issues, I’m a prime candidate for that sort of thing. I’ve never even smoked a cigarette. Mostly because with my allergies and asthma (which I forgot to mention yesterday, I’ve been dealing with since the age of five) it most likely would have landed me in the ER. To sum up; my philosophy in high school was, life sucks and then you die. If you listen to enough punk rock lyrics and believe their lies, you might come to the same conclusion. To further demonstrate the inward turmoil of my teenage years, my other favorite music style was 1950’s doo wop music. Go figure. Oldies 98 out of Philadelphia was an awesome radio station! Further proof I’ve always been weird and complicated, swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other; from depression to hope.
Midway through my senior year, my parents split up. Since it’s not only my story to tell, I will leave out the details, but let me just say it was soap opera worthy and rocked my world. Shortly after I graduated I had a really hard decision to make. Stay with what I perceived as my broken family or leave with friends who offered to let me move with them to Indiana and be their live-in nanny. I chose to leave Pennsylvania and the familiar in the hopes of outrunning the pain I wasn’t ready to face. Again, all your baggage goes with you unless you leave it at the cross for Jesus take care of.
And that’s it for today. I’m tired. I have another sinus infection and all I’ve been good for these past few days is sleeping, watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, reading, and writing my story. And I’m totally okay with that. I’ll leave you with my senior picture, which when I look at it all I can think is I want my young neck back! I’m not sure why our school did this, but all the girls had to wear this drapey, off-the-shoulder black thing in the yearbook photo, so other than the size of our hair and our choice of jewelry, we all looked alike. You can’t tell with that perm blocking your view, but the back of my head was shaved too. I was just that cool in 1992 😉