Unfortunately, I was unable to reenlist for another Navy tour due to my single-mother status and lack of family support. I debated on staying in Virginia Beach where I was currently stationed but after my parents came to visit and encouraged me to come home I decided to do that. Finally, my family wanted to be a family! At the time I was dating a guy that lived upstairs from me. We decided to end things but the night before I was to drive back home he made the decision to go with me. We set off for this new life together as a family of three to Florida.
After I got home I learned that the reason my parents wanted me back here was to take on my sister and her two kids. She doesn’t work and relies on child support and welfare. Hmm…a two bedroom townhouse with two adults and three children (the ‘rents didn’t know about the boyfriend until this point). The math just didn’t add up. I was hurt once I learned this ulterior motive.
After working several dead-end jobs and struggling to make ends meet I finally got a decent job. It took a while to dig myself back out of debt while carrying the load of the family. I eventually kicked the boyfriend to the curb and life started to get much better. I paid off my car, bought my house, a finished my bachelor’s degree (in communications, mostly marketing) – all before thirty. Things were looking up.
Along the way, I met a guy through work who I fell for hard even though my heart told me it was a mistake. We were together for several years although we had several breakups along the way. One night I was driving back from open house at my son’s school, just me and my son. It occurred to me that it would always be this way. The boyfriend would never commit to me and I would always be a single mom. That night I ended things on the phone and his words were, “I understand.” I think those words hurt more than anything because they were so nonchalant and lacking in emotion. This was when my food addiction began. I learned that if I stuffed myself with enough food that the crying and heartbreak would cease, at least temporarily.
At some point I met the next guy whom I dated for a couple years off and on. This relationship was intense, to say the least. This guy would end up being Ex #2. Can you see the pattern of destruction here? I couldn’t at the time. I was eating to shove down my emotions, never dealt with that pain, and jumped on the next train. We were married for all of three months before I finally realized what I had done. Sadly, I can say at our wedding I realized I was making a mistake but I ignored it and figured we could work it out. During our separation I started talking to the before mentioned ex and had hope that we could work things out. I was telling myself lies.
We met back up but I could tell that he was bothered by my larger weight. He didn’t say it but I could feel the elephant in the room and it was me. I was already on the road to self-destruction there was no turning back now. We stayed friends even though deep down I hoped things would work out eventually. During this time my son went to live with his dad who lives nowhere near Florida. My divorce became final after six or seven months of marriage. I went to India to find myself. It was the greatest adventure but I didn’t find myself there. Honestly, I’m still searching. Before I went to India I discovered that I loved art. It was not something I had spent any time on before and with my son getting to know his dad I had more time on my hands.
You’re probably wondering why I suddenly decided to share my story. The truth is I was reading Susannah Conway’s latest book, This I Know, over the weekend and she talked about how we tend to only share the parts of ourselves on our blogs that we want others to see. In other words, we’re inclined to sweep the less beautiful parts of ourselves under the rug, out of view. I know that I do this. I’m completely honest with the things I share but I don’t expose my dirty laundry. The problem is that dirty laundry is what’s made me who I am. So here I am stripping off the layers to reveal myself, flaws and all.
There are a few more parts I should add to this story. I still struggle with myself over the God that the church from my childhood forced upon me and the God that as an adult I’ve learned is a more loving Father. Although I can’t help but question the things in my life that the church preached as being sinful but I get to decide now. I know the basic right from wrongs and live my life according to those.
I’m still struggling with my weight but I make more of an effort to notice why I’m eating. Also, depression and social anxiety have been key players in my life for as long as I remember. I know those are the deep dark secrets that most people fear sharing with others. I’ve kept quiet about it for so long because of the stigma attached. I also know that there is no reason to be ashamed. We all have a cross to bear and this is mine. I recently started a new treatment plan after the one I was on for many years was no longer working. As discussed with a girlfriend, it’s like when your shampoo stops working and you have to switch them up.
This time with myself has given me a lot of insight into my destructive patterns. I realized that the guys that are all gaga over me I tend to throw away easily. The guys who seem uninterested or broken themselves I dive right in trying to fix him or fix myself. In Susannah's book (page 178) she talks about how we look for validation in relationships by being needy when we're insecure with ourselves. Not knowing our own worth we need others to love us and not leave us. This new found self-awareness is vital to my healing and recovery.
So here I am – stripped bare. These are my truths. I speak them bravely but I no longer choose to be defined by them. This is where the next chapter in my story begins.