Thursday, August 8, 2013

Defining Moments

The following is not meant to make you feel sorry for me. It is not meant to spread ill-feelings toward people I have included in my writing, either. I am sharing this as a way to take what I have experienced out of my own hands and, hopefully, maybe help someone else who may read this someday. (Even if I help just one person who is going through a hard time, this will have been worth it to me!) Please understand that at this point in my life, I do not harbor ANY angry feelings for any person who appears in this post!

My childhood was happy. I had great parents who took care of me... probably even spoiled me! My mom was there every step of the way, and my dad, who owns his own business, was there when he could be. 
During the week, my brother and I would do everything together, most often you could probably find us outside having some type of adventure. Mom was always watching kids on the side when she wasn't working as a Resource Teacher at my elementary school, Ridge Crest. I was born a leader and kids often would follow me in whatever I was doing. 
On weekends, my dad wouldn't be working so we'd all be doing activities as a family. I remember doing everything from horse trail-rides, to snow-machining, camping, to staying in "The Cabin" in Island Park. I remember going to the rollerskating rink in Pocatello and dining out. We even went to California for Christmas when I was in second grade. I don't think my life could have been much closer to perfect.
I do remember having a strange relationship with friends at school. I was a social butterfly and never really seemed to fit in with one particular 'clique'. This was fine with me because I always had someone to play with during lunch and recess. As I got older, though, I started missing out on invites to parties and what not. It just seemed like I wasn't close enough to be thought of as more than an acquaintance. I remember a few girls that were nice enough to me at school, but never invited me to do anything with them outside of school. I dealt with it well enough. There was always something to do with my family. 
As I entered fifth grade, however, I took on a totally new relationship with a peer. I began to be bullied. It started with one boy. I remember sitting at lunch one day and Jared started telling me how fat I was. I can still see his face and hear his words. I had never really looked at my body until that moment. I didn't know I was FAT until it was pointed out to me by a twelve year old boy. I began crying and begging him to leave me alone. An aide came over and asked what was going on... neither of us spoke so the kids around that had been listening fessed up and I watched as Jared was taken away from the table. After recess, my teacher took me out into the hall and asked me how long he had been doing this. I told her the story and I guess she had a talk with him. I am grateful for her support but sorry to say that the bullying only got worse. What's crazy is all of this was happening while my mom worked in the classroom across from ours... I look back now and wonder why that didn't frighten him.
Well, I moved on from elementary and seemed to grow a foot in the next year or so... It really seemed to slim me up. I was making new friends and was really starting to feel better about myself, although I was now stepping on the scale and looking in the mirror much more frequently now. To make matters worse, I was now in gym where we had to change for class. There is nothing more daunting than changing your clothes in front of twenty skeptical adolescent girls, only now I know that they were feeling exactly as I felt. Still, I pushed on and kept living. I was only about ten pounds overweight anyway... I shouldn't have been so concerned. I was, though, until the spring of 2004, when a bombshell was dropped on me...
My parents, who had been together for 14 years were leaving each other. This came as a total shock to my brother and me. I was very sad and seemed to be gaining more weight. I started doing tons of things at school to keep my mind off of what was happening at home. I didn't eat well and I was entering my high school years about twenty pounds overweight. I was still generally happy, but I never felt comfortable in anything I wore. I remember longing to look like other girls I knew or people I saw in the media. I covered up my sadness as much as I could, but ask my close friends and family and I'm sure they noticed a difference. I didn't care about my grades and I didn't really put my all into anything I did... It was all somewhat mediocre. I was also placed in a joint-custody situation where I would spend half of the week with my mom and the other half with my dad, rotating weekends. I felt that I was spread so thin and tired, I don't know how we did that for as long as I did. Eventually, though, I was tired of it and did something that I started the rockiest relationship I have ever had with anyone. I asked my dad if I could just stay with my mom. 
He was irate... and looking back now, I know how much that probably hurt for him to hear. I was just looking for some stability in my life and in my mind, he had his new wife and step-kids, my mom had no one... I thought it would be a win-win: we all have company to keep and I have a somewhat regular schedule in my life again. I guess my dad didn't have the same mindset as I did. He went into his house, grabbed all of my clothes and threw them into the back of my mom's car, not caring to pick up what was left lying across his lawn. He turned around with tears in his eyes and walked back into his house, shutting the door without another word to me. I cried the whole way back to my mom's.
Things got better for a while, until my mom remarried and I chose to move from Blackfoot to Mud Lake with her (about an hour's drive). My dad was upset again by the notion, this time taking me even further away from him. I thought I was in need of a change and looked at this as an opportunity for me to start over with a clean slate. I had also just been baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, against his wishes. I guess it seemed to him that I was rebelling against him in every possible way I could. I really was just looking for a way to be happy again. 
I think I would have fit in great at West Jefferson High if I had been living there my whole life. I loved the short time I spent there, although I had social butterfly complex again and never really got the chance to grow super close to anyone during my last two years of high school. I was still carrying about twenty pounds of extra weight, too, but I decided to go out on a ledge and do something that I thought would be great for myself. I participated in Jr. Miss. 
I loved getting a chance to grow a little closer with the girls who participated and I found myself enjoying the activities involved with the program. As the major night approached, however, I could not get over how my dad seemed to not support the whole idea. When I would talk to him about it, his answers were short and he often questioned why I had chosen to take part in the program. Then, the night before the show, we were invited to attend a parent-daughter dinner. My dad never told me he wasn't going, so the night of I sat and watched his and his wife's salads wilt on their plates, wondering what could be keeping them. 
I had purchased their tickets to the actual performance, but after the no-show the evening before, I didn't know what to expect for Saturday night. I remember calling him with no answer and I was honestly surprised when I came out and saw him after it had already started.  I was grateful for his appearance, but still not sure why he hadn't come the night before... A week afterward, I learned the reason. He told me... he also told me that he thought the whole thing had been a joke and if I really had my heart in it I would have done better... and that I should have taken my dress to a seamstress to have it altered because it looked like it didn't fit right. (I had altered my dress...)
I was upset to hear these words, and it was a blow to my self-confidence, but I moved on and kept living... what else could I do?
Later, my high school graduation was coming up. My step-mother's grandma passed a week prior to my graduation and her funeral would cause them to be away from my graduation. I feel selfish now, but I was so upset that my dad would even consider thinking about missing my graduation... I didn't know if he was coming until I saw him walk in the night of. It was hard to feel happy he was there when I was so surprised to see him, and I think he may have picked up on my feelings. I hadn't planned anything for after the ceremony because my cousin was having cake at her house... I didn't know if my dad was coming and my mom's family would all be at Corttany's house, so I planned on joining them. I think this also upset my dad because he came, but only stayed for about five minutes then left without saying goodbye. He did build me a beautiful hope chest that I treasure and am very grateful for, but I missed having time with him.
Moving on a couple of years, I was attending college. My relationship with my dad was quite rocky and I didn't see him very often. I began dating a boy from Southern Utah and  in the summer of 2010, he asked me to marry him. We had kind of been on again, off again, but I really felt that I could be happy with him in my life. I said yes. He gave me a ring and we started planning, but shortly after, he went home and changed his mind. He called one day to end our relationship and asked if I would mail the ring back to him. I was not sure what the problem was but eventually made my mind up that it was better than waiting until after we were married for him to do that. 
The next week, my mom and I started packing our things as she was going through her second divorce. While packing one day, my step-dad came home to say that there was a mass of cars parked down at our family friends', the Newman's. Later that night, we found out that their boy, Brody had gotten into an accident on the four wheeler. I attended his funeral between moving out of my Step-dad's and into my mom's new place. I was seriously wondering what else could possibly make me sadder when about three weeks after Brody's accident, I woke up to my mom's cell ringing during the morning six o'clock hour. I heard my mom as she spoke worriedly, with who turned out to be my aunt. She came down the hall a few minutes later to tell me my friends, Mabry and Loren had been found in a car accident just a few miles away from Mabry's house. They both didn't make it. I went to their joint funeral a week before I had to return to Rexburg for school...
When I returned to school a few short days later, I was surprised when Levi called me to ask if I would go get some ice cream with him. We talked, but it felt strange to me going on what I am sure was a date. I had moved into his ward, though because I thought we would still be together and I hadn't had enough time to change my contract and move somewhere else before school started... this caused us to see each other on a regular basis and before I knew it, we were dating again... 
Around the beginning of November, I asked him about his plans for Thanksgiving... he didn't want to stay with my family, but he didn't really invite me to come down with his family either... I thought he had been happy with where things were going, so this took me by surprise. I decided to take this as a sign that he just wasn't as committed to me as I was to him, and for the first time, I made the decision that we should stop seeing each other. I had fun for the remainder of the semester as I dated only for something fun to do. My heart just wasn't set on latching onto someone so tightly that soon. I needed time to find myself again after everything that had happened over the last half-year. 
This is when I stepped back and looked at my relationship with my dad. I hadn't seen him much since I graduated high school and I honestly hadn't even told him about Levi asking me for my hand in marriage. We just weren't very close. I called him and asked for some time with him. I started seeing him on a regular basis and even decided to move down to Blackfoot to live with my dad for my next school break, which would be about four months long. 
In the mean time... a former friend (more acquaintance than friend) got in touch with me. We went on a few dates on his Christmas break while I was living in Blackfoot. Things were going great with my dad, I was waiting for my friend to get home in March to see where that would go, and I was heading back to school in April. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like things were falling back into place in my life. I was very happy, but still packing about fifteen pounds too much weight.
Fast forward to July... I was now engaged (again) and very content with where my life was. I thought I had moved on, finally, from those hard trials that had happened in my past. Our wedding date was to be August 27th, 2011, and I was looking forward to it with great happiness and anticipation! Everything was going so well, I never questioned that something would go wrong, but I was about to face one of the biggest mountains of them all...
On August 21st, less than one week before my wedding date, I answered one of the most heart wrenching phone calls of my life. My dad was calling for wedding plans, or so I thought. After a grueling hour on the phone, I hung up knowing that my dad, and all of his family (his wife, my step-siblings, cousins, my aunt, my grandma, etc.) would not be in attendance for ANY part of my wedding. He simply told me that he felt that my brother and I were leading lives that were headed down a different road than the life he was leading and he didn't think he could be a part of that any longer. I completely lost my composure. I am grateful that I didn't say anything out of anger, and I said nothing I regret, but I wish I could have found something to say to change his mind. Eventually, he just wouldn't hear what I had to say anymore and he hung up on me. 
The next week was the happiest and saddest day of my life. Yes, I went through with the wedding, and I am grateful I did. My husband is, I think, the most supportive being on the planet. I do, however, have depression from what unfolded and it has taken a toll on my body. It's been two years now, and (except for a few hours at my brother's wedding last year...yes, my dad is on great terms with my brother...) I have not heard much from him. I get an occasional text, but never a phone call, or a visit. I don't know how he feels now about everything that has happened in the past, but I hope eventually this will be something we can put behind us...
As for me, well, i am ready to eliminate all of the hard feelings that resurfaced the week before my wedding and finally find peace with who I am and what I am doing with my life. I am tired of waking up in the morning and wishing I could just go back to sleep to escape the hurt and heart ache. I am tired of my body attacking itself because I feel so bad about who I am. I am done being suddenly taken off-guard by simple things that seem to knock me back down the mountain, and which take what seems like twice the time to feel better each time that happens. I am ready to take control of who I am and what I can become. I have heard that the best way to predict a good future is to create it! Well, here I am deciding TODAY that my future is bright, and happy is the person I will be. 
I have decided to start with my physical self first. I am eating healthier than I have eaten ever before. I am also exercising regularly, and I joined a fitness challenge group to help motivate me and propel me forward. It has been two weeks since I decided to make this change, and I couldn't be happier with the results! It is hard, but its not the hardest thing I've done. As for the hardest thing I've done, well, I have decided that I am NOT going to let it define my life. Yes, those events occurred in my past, and they were hard then and are still difficult on occasion. However, rather than defining my life by those moments, I have decided that I am going to create a bend in the road and define them as teaching moments. They may have changed who I am and how I will approach life in the future, but they will not define who I am and determine where I am headed. I am stronger than I think I am, and I have the God-given right to find happiness in this crazy journey. 
My senior quote is this; "While in the pursuit of happiness, one should stop, and just be happy."
I am happy now because I have finally come to realize that everything I can control is currently how I would like it to be. I am finally at a place where I am gaining control over myself, and in the end, that is really all we can do, right?
A happy moment in my life* 
I hope these occur more regularly as I grow older :-)

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