Part 2 of a 6-week series
If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
First, let’s take a glance through my middle school years. Yep, just like most everyone else out there I had a very awkward stage in life. These pictures should prove that nicely!! Can you tell what was popular then? Big poofy bangs and blue eye-shadow!!!NICE right?! The bigger the bangs – the better. HA! HA!
Looking back on those seemingly embarrassing pictures, I realize several things. I wanted so badly to “fit-in” with the crowd and two, I forgot it was picture day in 7th grade. SUPER!
Other than that, my middle school years were pretty plain as far as I remember. I made some great friends (a couple I still keep in contact with!), had my first “boyfriend” – if you wanna call him that. We were “going out” only in a technical sense. We hardly talked to each other at school, we never ate lunch together, we rarely talked on the phone and we never, ever went any where together. So…really I’m not sure how that constitutes him as my boyfriend, other than the fact that I got a note in class asking me to be his girlfriend and I said yes. So there ya have it. My first relationship. Sounds successful, don’t ya think? Actually, I really laugh about this now and how silly it was.
Then, I think how sad. I must have been so desperate for a “boyfriend” status that it didn’t matter what the relationship looked like. And how many girls today have these same feelings? It breaks my heart. I want more than ‘this’ for my children. I want them to know TRUE LOVE from our Heavenly Father first and foremost. Oh how I want that for them!!
I could go on and on about that for hours, but I won’t. I’ll leave it there and get back to my story. It didn’t take a genius to realize that I didn’t look like everyone else. I was taller than most everyone in my school (even those 2 grades ahead of me), I was “well developed” earlier than most and I had more “curves”. This brought a lot of attention my way, most of which I ignored, but was still embarrassed by.
As a young, hyper-active 3yr old my mother enrolled me in my first ballet class. I fell in love with dance and music and continued taking classes and training until I graduated high school. During my 7th and 8th grade years of school I began to see that my body-type was not that of a typical ballerina. So I began controlling my eating habits. If I ate lunch at school, it was a few sips from a shake and a couple French fries – sometimes I only ate an apple. I covered well by socializing with my friends during lunch and saying I just didn’t have time to eat. I did the same at home by staying busy with school work, dance, cello (yes, I took that up in 6th grade too), piano, football games, basketball games, Camp Fire meetings – whatever I could think of to keep me away from food. With my busy schedule, I was rarely home at a decent hour to eat dinner with my family, so instead I would pick at a few things, but not really eat anything of nutritional value. I drank a ton of water too.
This became my lifestyle and I lost all control of my eating habits. In 9th grade it began to catch up with me. By the end of the school year I was almost 5’10” tall and I weighed a measly 108lbs. I was definitely in the “danger zone” for my health at this point. My parents never knew what was going on because I chose to wear baggy or loose clothing, using the excuse that I didn’t like the way boys looked at me. Truth was…I was hiding.
The summer between 9th and 10th grade I took a trip toCalifornia with myCampFire council. It was a Leadership conference. While there I became very ill for several days. We chalked it up to altitude sickness and I went on the rest of the week. After I came back home I continued to have some symptoms only not as bad. I had days where I ached all over, but couldn’t really explain why.
It wasn’t until only a week of school that I realized I couldn’t do it anymore. I was so weak from the anorexia and my body was fighting something else we couldn’t explain. My joints hurt so bad I couldn’t even hold a pencil to take notes. I was given permission to bring a tape recorder (remember those??) to class so that I could listen to the lectures at home for my “notes.” That worked great for a few weeks and then I found myself falling asleep in class. I never fell asleep in class!! Now matter how little sleep I got (I’ve always suffered from bouts of insomnia), I always stayed awake in class. But this was a sleep that I couldn’t explain. I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was like my body was forcing them shut and I had no control or say-so in the matter.
We went to doctor after doctor without answers. We finally had no choice but to pull me out of school and go “home-bound.” I was not thrilled with that choice because I loved my classes and my friends, but I also knew I couldn’t keep going on this way. During the months I was home-bound (mid Sept – March), I slept nearly 18 hours a day and still had a nap!! They eventually set me up with a tutor that came to the house twice a week to go over assignments, check my work and give me tests. Some days it was all I could do to get up and get dressed before she arrived for my 1.5 hour session. And as soon as she left, I was back in bed sound asleep for a 2 hour nap. I was miserable.
While I was home, I did go through out-patient counseling for the anorexia and I started to do better with my eating. I still kept a very close watch on my intake, but at least I was eating more. I still think I only weighed about 115 when I graduated high school, but I was definitely healthier.
I was able to return to school for 3 hours a day in March after Spring Break. And that’s how I finished out my 10th grade year. I was able to attend a full day of school though my Junior and Senior years.
Because of my “illness” (which they deemed Juvenile Systemic Arthritis), I was unable to attend college away from home. So I enrolled in the local Community College, which was fondly referred to as High School 2 since sooooo many students from the area went there for at least a year before moving on. It was (and still is) a GREAT way to take your basics at a cheaper rate, while living at home and even have a part-time job. I loved taking all kinds of classes (including Meteorology and Oceanography – I mean, when was I, a girl from OK, ever going to use Oceanography?) and I couldn’t really decide on a major so I was there for 5 years. I think we figured out that I only needed like 2-3 classes in different areas and I would have like 4 Associates Degrees. Seriously??? Who does that?! Well, me apparently.
Anyway…moving on. My first job was at a local grocery store. I worked in the cash office on the evening shift (3p-11p). It was a perfect shift for me since I was a natural night owl. It was there that I met up with some guys I went to high school with. And that’s when everything changed.
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Come back next week when I’ll talk about how my life changed, my own self-sabotage, God’s mercy and grace and how I met my husband.
I am writing this series in hopes that some of the experiences and situations I have encountered during my life will give hope and healing to those hurting.
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