Time to Breathe

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Perspective has saved me from many stressful or intense situations in my life.  Things happen unexpectedly that can cause fear, anger, and confusion.  “Why me?” or “why now?”  A tailspin of emotions that can trigger negative outcomes if you allow it.  Maybe the better question is “what now?”  The summer before my Sophomore year my family moved to a small Texas town of five thousand.  I went from attending one of the largest schools in Arizona to a very small christian school in Texas.  The entire 7th through 12th grades fit into one classroom, and it was tough adjustment on so many levels.  Did I mention at my mom was now my teacher at my school?!  I didn’t like the changes on every level but instead of fighting it – I accepted it.  It was the price I paid to be a thousand miles away from the people who sexually abused me.   So I didn’t complain and made new friends and even decided to try new things.  I joined the cross-country team, and the local 4-H club and even took extra classes in school.  I was determined to get ahead of my class requirements and coast through my senior year.

I fully embraced my new life and decided to make a new start.  I had squeaked by my freshman year of high school.  I completely rebelled against any kind of school work, studying or anything that had to do with academics.    I should have completely failed the entire year, but I would ace my finals and pass all my classes with a very low D.  Although I was against the to move to Texas I also wanted to escape.  A chance to walk away from my past and painful memories and become someone new.  An opportunity to bury my former existence and create a new identity.  Living in a small town meant fewer distractions and so I focused on my new future.  I had little control of my life but recognized I could apply myself in school and become an excellent student.

So I did.

I enjoyed looking through catalogs of class options.  I packed my class schedule as far as it would stretch.  A majority of my time was spent reading, studying and taking tests. I repeated most of my freshman classes to raise my GPA.  My goal was to work hard to coast through my senior year.  Each high score and earned credits fueled my desire to continue to excel.   The curriculum at my new school was self-paced so I began to crank out the work for the next two years.  I loved it.  At the end of my junior year I was awarded with the highest GPA and Perseverance Award.  It was the first time I was ever recognized academically for my hard work.  My nose was stuck in books for so long that I was surprised to hear my name called that night.  It was proof my life in Arizona was slowly starting to fade away.

Imagine my surprise when the summer before my senior year I learned we were now moving to Dallas?  I was completely floored.  I had finally adapted to living in a small town, new school, new church, new life.  Let me tell you it wasn’t easy but I had done it and actually liked it.   So now here we go again!  Packing our bags and heading north to the City of Dallas.  As much as I missed living close to shopping malls, movie theaters and chain restaurants I didn’t want to go.  I was upset to uproot once again and leave my newfound life now that I was finally settled and in place.  How many more times would I have to do this?  I didn’t know.  I asked my parents if I could stay to finish my senior year and continue to live with my aunt.  I had already asked her and she had agreed.  They firmly said no but I was allowed to stay behind until school started in the Fall.  It wasn’t the answer I hoped for but it was something – and so I agreed.

I waited until the last possible minute to go to Dallas.  The thought of starting over was overwhelming to me.  The christian school I transferred to was much larger and I discovered their credit requirements was more.  My heart sank deep into the pit of my stomach.  This meant I could kiss my easy-breezy senior year goodbye!  I was pissed! Even with a full schedule I was still one health credit short.  Are you fricken serious?!  All that hard work and now it felt like it was all for nothing!  I wanted to scream but I couldn’t so I just pushed all those feelings down deep.  This introverted loner now had to try to acclimate to her new surroundings and attempt to make new friends – all while trying to fulfill the credit requirements.  I went from coasting my way through my final year of high school to wondering if I’d graduate on time.

I couldn’t see back then my abuse was beginning to scab over.  Which was now possible because the sexual abuse had completely stopped.  No more unexpected visits from my aunt or uncle at my home.  Or unwanted advances from other family members at family gatherings.  That era had ended and I had survived it.  Sadly it was far from over, but I just didn’t know it yet.  My sexual abuse started when I five so I had to wait until I matured to completely grasp what actually happened to me.  For eight years the abuse was such a regular and normal part of my life.  It is still surreal today to think about everything that happened actually took place.

I now have a four-year old grandson who has such a free-spirit and beautiful soul.  I appreciate his humor and his sweet innocence.  My deep love and adoration for him came from a place I never knew existed until he was born.   There are moments that brings tears to my eyes when I look at this precious boy.  I think about my little girl at the same age.  She didn’t know the pain, misery and torment that would soon appear only a year later. So young, innocent and unprepared for where life would take her.

I underestimated how strong and powerful abuse can envelop and possess you.  It only hands out life sentences and so you have to fight like hell for freedom.    Now one year and one thousand miles away from the horrors – life now felt manageable .  All I desired was to forget the past but it’s impossible.  Running will never heal you.  The next few years in Dallas would become a pivotal and important time in my life.  God heard my cry and gave me a gift – I became an average teenager living an average life.  Although compared to my life before this was WAY above average for me.  I embraced my new school and was given extraordinary friends.  I flourished in school and played on the volleyball and basketball teams too.  I quit trying to forget the past or work hard on becoming someone new.   I was happy.

The next few years changed me in ways I could never fully explain with mere words.  My new life was antibiotic to the deep wounds in my broken heart and body .   As I now look back on that time I can see things were aligning themselves and equipping me for the longer battle ahead.  It’s where I first began to heal and grow.  Hope for the impossible began to sprout and I finally felt safe.  I discovered I could drop my defenses and just breathe.

So I did.

Oh and by the way I graduated on time too 😉

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