26 and 27. Mid to late twenties. These were supposed to be some of the best years of my life right? Not so much. Yeah I know...I was hoping to catch a break a some point too. However, these years gave me my independence back. Actually it's when I had the chance to take it back. These years changed me, tested me, and caused me to choose once and for all...who was I going to be? Many days and nights during this time were filled with tears. I was very lonely despite being surrounded by friends and family. Every move I made was truly living out of fear. Of what?? Everything. I stepped into the people pleasing role without blinking an eye. Striving for perfection always. At work, with friends, and family...you name it. At the time I hadn't yet discovered that everything in my past caused this development, but I would down the road.
I moved to a small apartment in Nashville with my dogs and we began a life. I lived paycheck to paycheck and I numbed my pain with everyone else's woes. I became the "yes" girl. An extension of the "I'll do anything to make you happy" girl I'd already become. I sought out ways to help anyone and everyone I could, as long as it meant I didn't have to dive into my feels. On the outside it looked as if I was kind and nurturing person with a zest for helping others (which I genuinely am) but avoidance is what I would call it in those years. I became the life of the party as well. Most thought I was "living it up" from how I seemed so carefree on the outside, but I was dying inside. I should note that there were a couple of angels that walked these dark days with me...you know who you are...and I will leave it at that. I am a firm believer God gives us free will so that we learn. Our choices of running from our greatness often break His heart, but it's a must. These years taught me several things, but the 2 most important are as follows:
1. I can't save the world alone and I am not sure why I think it's my job.
2. Addiction is real, and it doesn't look they way most people imagine. Sometimes it's not the substance we are addicted to...it's outrunning the feelings we can't manage.
I was a few years away from figuring much else out, but I know I became addicted to seeking validation is all the wrong places by living out of fear. Oh and P.S. it never worked.
My circle narrowed and I spent much of this time in a fog. I am not proud of many of my actions during this time. In fact sharing how hard these years are is really difficult for me. I met some amazing people and did a few cool things, don't get me wrong, but internally I was a basket case. Broken and putting on such a show. And it somehow would creep out when I had one to many adult beverages. I am sure you can relate...and if not...kudos to you. Like I said, many tears. Not proud.
Then it happened...something so devastating that it shifted my entire life. It's hard for me to talk about this part so I will be brief. I had the scare, to date then, of my life. It brings on an ugly cry as I type, but this chapter is important for my future so I feel lead to share a bit of it. In my fear I pushed everyone away, including family. I simply couldn't share my weakness with others so I went into a dark hole and wasn't sure I would come out at times. I took the medications, did the procedures, showed up to my appointments, etc...and then I waited. I was certain I was being punished for many things, but the biggest one, was my divorce. I genuinely believed I deserved to suffer and that this was how my life would end. It's amazing what living out of fear looks like inside others minds huh??? I know my fear was ugly and out of control. After many months of lying in wait continuing treatment...the news I finally received was a true miracle from God. Your tests are clear. No traces of Cancer. I remember sitting in that office and thinking these exact words...this is my second chance, thank you Jesus, I swear I won't waste it. I promise. This wasn't how my story would end and I knew if I wanted things to change, it started with my me. I prayed a prayer of gratitude and when I walked out into the sunshine that afternoon, nothing would ever be the same.
In the next chapters my story will start to look completely different. The good starts to out weigh the bad. On the exterior at least, and as you can tell this story is shifting. Into what I'm not exactly sure yet, but I promise I will leave it all on the table because I still strongly believe sharing this story that eventually leads to redemption is part of my journey. Why? Still not sure about that, but like I said before, when He calls you to do something...you listen.
I need to make a point to close this chapter. You see my Dad had a hand in my creation. In raising me. He didn't always get it right, but without him I wouldn't be able to share this story. Share my heart. Share me with the world. He's a huge part of the reason I am here. So, as far as I am concerned, if all he got right is myself, my sister and brother...well if you know us, you know that's something he left this world very proud of indeed. I must also note that the third and probably most important lesson I learned during these years is grace. And...I started to replace fear with Grace. Grace for me. Grace for all.
*Father's Day will never be the same again. It's a hard day for many reasons, but to honor my Dad's life this Father's Day, I send hugs and Eskimo kisses to heaven. Rest easy.