Part 2 Continued from How a False Belief Will Destroy You
There I was, home from college, working at Costco and for the first time living in an environment where I attracted attention from males. Word had gotten around that I was a virgin and sadly, this made me intriguing and a target. There was a pool created wagering on the loss of my virginity and going to work was increasingly difficult. Eight-hour shifts pushing carts, followed by long workouts at the gym were my way of holding life together.
One day, out in the lot, I was struggling with a stubborn cart and its bad wheel when a coworker tried to help me “fix” the problem. Without warning he yanked the line of carts, awkwardly twisting my body and knocking the wind out of me. The result; I had torn all of the ligaments that connected my sternum to my ribcage. The next fifty days were confined to bed or couch, followed by very limited physical activity, mostly walking.
I could no longer ignore dealing with life by working out at the gym, so what did I do? Face everything and start looking inward? I would have preferred to report that was my solution, but instead I stuffed down negative emotions and when pain surfaced, I channeled it into a growing self-hatred for a body that I could no longer “control”. One enemy was the mirror, which reflected back to me what I was coming to believe about myself. Another was my inability to serve others, which had long been my primary means to find value and worth in relationships.
That Christmas, my dad gave my siblings and me the gift of a book; a special story that expressed some of the deepest parts of his soul and revealed his relationship and journey with Jesus. A few extra copies went to friends, who eventually urged him to publish. On a stormy Good Friday, the book soon scheduled for release, my parents sat my two younger siblings and me down to tell us what the world would soon find out. Within the year after the birth of my youngest brother, my father had committed adultery; a three-month affair with one of my mom’s best friends. I kept my own emotions on lock down, and turned my attention to help my sister who was blown sideways by the news.
The book was released and I took on the role of my dad’s personal assistant. About the same time a young man, who I had liked for two years but had moved past, reentered my life wanting to pursue a relationship. Perhaps I could like him again. We started dating, and soon he began saying such things as, “When my friends are around, don’t act this way” or “Just don’t do these kinds of things”. It wasn’t unusual for him to quickly change his mind on his way to see me in order to visit another friend instead. The lie that I was not good enough surfaced as did the desperation for attention. To keep a guy around, to prove myself, to be enough… I used the physical.
I was never enough; he broke up with me and I shut down any remaining emotions. I no longer felt happy or sad. I just… was. I started getting headaches, not your average stress or migraine headaches, but the worst pain you could imagine as if someone were sawing into my head. For seven months I was incapacitated, living in between the living room sofa and doctor’s offices. Their conclusion? “We were not able to find a physical cause for you problems, so it is probably depression and anxiety. Here, take these pills.” I knew their diagnosis was wrong.
After seven months, I finally had my MRI films reviewed at the research hospital in town, and this time with a different outcome. My doctor reported that I had a benign pituitary adenoma, a micro sized tumor on the backside of my pituitary gland. I was relieved to hear something tangible that explained the symptoms; why my hormonal and internal body temperature systems were so out of control, and a physical source of the headaches. Immediately, I began a regimen of oral chemotherapy to keep the tumor from growing and secreting hormones. It had already messed with my thyroid and I knew life was going to look different than I had ever imagined.
I went home and started living as a “sick person.” For the next three years I constantly fought medication nausea, having no energy except for the very basics of life. My mom would climb into the shower to wash my hair, tend to my needs and try to be a constant encouragement. But I had no capacity to offer anything in return and every time someone served me, the whisper of the lie got louder. “You are a burden on the life of others. You are useless.” It made it even worse, to watch my body change. I had little energy to fight back.
Three years and things began to change. I got a job, even in the ups and downs with my health concerns. Company personnel were kind and compassionate and let me work from home as needed. I again began working out at a gym and hired a personal trainer, who I dated a year and a half later, the first guy I ever loved. Finally, I found someone with whom I planned to share the rest of my life, and I had my body back the way I liked it. The sad truth is that my soul was actually sicker than ever. In part because I had never faced the inside lies, it ended badly. You can read about it in my post, ‘I Gave it Up to the Wrong Prince and How I Got it Back’.
When my world crumbled, I left home and headed to Nashville desperate to find healing. God placed me in the embrace of caring friends and an amazing counselor who fought for me when I did not know how to fight for myself. For the first time, I was honest. I looked at my wounds and began the hard work of dealing with their sources.
As God heals my heart, I learn that He cares less about America’s perception of beauty. The more truth I let into my life, the more eye contact I can make with myself in the mirror. My value does not increase or decrease by the size of my jeans. I am not loved because of my outward appearance. Life can be hard and sometimes we are dealt a low hand, but we do not have to allow circumstances to define us.
You are important! You are beautiful! You are Powerful! You are loved and have always been worthy of being loved. There is nothing you can do or will do that will change that truth. It will be true whether you believe it or not, but your experience of the truth depends on what you believe. The best revenge to take out on difficult life experiences and circumstances is to love and be loved; to live in the truth of who you are.
If this message blessed you, be a blessing by sharing with others.