Standing up and sharing with the youth about some of my high school experiences ended up being an impacting time for me....and I think for them as well. I won't go into the whole evening here for the sake of......well I spoke for 45 minutes so I guess respecting your blog reading time would be the factor. Instead I will share with you a smaller section now and maybe another tomorrow.
This is the way I remember it........
When I was 13, my parents separated and then later divorced. I remember getting up to get ready for school one morning and my parents had my little brother and I sit down on the couch for a family talk. They said that Dad was moving out but that we didn't need to worry. He would still be around and we would be able to spend lots of time with him. Above all we were told to keep in mind that what was happening was not our fault and we were greatly loved.
Then they asked if we had any questions or had anything we wanted to say.
We didn't. My parents had always done a great job of protecting us from their frustrations and heart breaks, but we knew anyway. We just wanted them to be happy. And frankly, between Dad having to devote much of his time to work and the fact that he wasn't an emotionally expressive man....living at home with just mom didn't appear to look much different.
When school got out for the summer, my mom, brother, and I moved across the country to Oregon to live with and to care for my Nana. I started high school that year. (Ah, that time when all tweens and teens really struggle with their identity. Does anyone NOT look back and shudder at that time of their lives?)
Up until that point I had been an awkward freckle-faced red-head with glasses. Wearing thick glasses and dealing with a bit of childhood asthma left me with a huge sense of 'no coordination'. There was not a single sport that I could even pretend to do. Those kinds of circumstances just beg for name calling in the elementary school world. Most frequently, I was named Pippi Longstocking by my peers. Of course, the name was solely because of my red hair and not because of the strength and individuality that Pippi was known for.
Today I laugh and think it is so not a big deal, but as a budding adolesent, it was awful! So, I looked at the move as a new lease on life. No longer was I going to be around anyone that knew me as being backwards or dorky or un-cool.
I decided to do what society told me to do…..look like everyone else. I got my hair styled, I took full advantage of my Nana wanting to shower me with love by buying all new clothes, I learned how to wear makeup. and then I casually “lost” my glasses. I was so blind that I couldn’t see what I looked like without them, but I just knew that not having glasses was an important factor to really being liked and popular in high school.
I tried everything, and I really do mean everything, that I thought would make me popular and give me a new life. I soon learned though that a strategy like that will backfire in your face. I earned a reputation and that reputation grew bigger than me. Not only was I labeled for things that I had done but I was labeled for things that I had not done. You know, that is how things go. One person says something about someone else and pretty soon the talk of the town is larger than truth.
Halfway thru my 9th grade year, I figured I just didn’t even need to bother anymore. I had no goals, things weren’t working out the way I had wanted them to, I was always grounded, and I had a 1.57 accumulative GPA. I decided it would be easier to just stop living. I had thoughts like, “if I die then all the people who didn’t bother to care might care. Maybe if I could look down in the sky and see all the people at my funeral, that would bring me satisfaction."
I know, you are shocked at my thought process. There is no logic in it and revolves totally around my selfish moments...but that is where I was at. I was bored with myself and couldn't see past the end of my own nose.
So, one night before bed, I decided to swallow a whole bottle of Tylenol. Maybe you laugh at that, but I thought I was doing a brave thing. I awoke during the night to my mom and step-dad wanting to talk with me. She had found a letter that I had written to a friend and left on the bathroom counter. I had written it to be a suicide note, but I had worded it so vague that it sounded like I was just going away. Of course, my mom wanted to know where in the world I was going and talked to me thru half the night about getting my life straight. Didn't I know how much I was loved?
I sat there on the floor, respectfully listening….because that is what I was taught to do. But inside I thought, why am I not dead? I had no stomach pains, no dizziness, nothing that I thought I should be doing after taking a bottle of pills. I thought, good grief! I am so pathetic! I can’t even do that right!
Little did I know how greatly God was watching over me, before I even paid Him any attention. Let’s jump forward for a minute to 13 years later and I'll explain why I say that........
I was sitting at home and talking on the phone trying to encourage a friend whose grand daughter was in ICU for taking too much Tylenol. I thought it was really an odd thing to be in ICU for. I mean, I should know right? So I asked her respectfully what the problem was. My friend said that though Tylenol can be a great thing for helping headaches and pains, if taken in too big of a dose, it makes the internal organs weep of blood. There are no holes for a doctors to plug. The person simply bleeds internally and the doctors can do nothing about it. They stand by helplessly watching and monitoring, hoping that the body can filter out the abundance of poison before it gives up.
So here I am trying to console my friend and pray with her because her grand daughter matters, while on the inside I am freaking out thinking, “I shouldn't be here right now! I could have never had my family, never been a mommy, never moved on and experienced all of the wonderful things that I have experienced! God I know you have always cared for me but I had no idea how you protected me when I didn’t even give you the time of day!”
At this point in my sharing, I branched off into some different things that flowed with the moment. But for your sake, I am sure you would like a bit more closure to this part of the story......
So back to me sitting there on the floor, absorbed in self and failure while listening to my mom. I sat there for so long that my legs had completely fallen asleep. I didn't say a word to my mom about the things going on in my head or what I had just done. Instead, I angelicly convinced her that I had indeed heard her words and needed to go to bed so I could be a good student at school the next day. She then gave up and consented for our talk to be finished.
As I was standing up, my sleeping legs failed me and I started to buckle to the floor. Instantly my mom and step-dad were at my side to catch me. Mom looked into my eyes, with tears falling down her face she said, "See, we are here for you. We always will be. You never have to feel like you are doing things alone."
Something clicked in my head and thought process after that. I couldn't tell you if it was that pivitol moment or a build up of a series of things. But, I slowly started thinking over time that if I couldn't do bad things well then I might as well try to do good things well.
I didn't get it all right emediately. Really, no one ever gets it ALL right ever. But here I am today so grateful that God had other plans for a selfish little girl.
Oh and that pathetic GPA my freshman year.....
I graduated high school with a scholarship for "Most Improved Student" with a 3.57 accumulative GPA.