Feb 5, 2015

40 (re-do)

I am 40 years old.
For the first 39 years of my life, I have been known as many things...
  • The Mischievous Daughter
  • The Annoying Sister
  • The Sub-Par Student
  • The Dependable Employee
  • The Fat Girl
  • The Mother-Hen Friend.
  • The Gullible Girlfriend
  • The House-is-Too-Messy Wife
  • The Worry-Wart Mom
  • The Self-Depreciating Blogger
  • The Good Cook
  • The Wanna-Be Homesteader
  • The Optimistic Business Owner
I played each of these "Life-Rolls" with varying degrees of success.
As the 40 year old me looks back on my first 39 years, I find myself confused and also a little ashamed.

When I was very young, I was the little girl who found normal every day life quite boring.
This lead me to "express" myself in quite creative ways...
I was the story teller Liar.

I had the entire congregation at our church convinced that my Mom and dad were going to adopt a baby.
The sweet new baby would sleep in my room and I would take care of it. Imagine my parents surprise when the head deacon congratulated them on Sunday!

My school bus passed derailed circus box cars, and I would report the hilarious stories about the escaped animals when I reached home.

You see, my stories lies were relatively harmless, they were never told to get someone in trouble, and they were usually not to keep me out of trouble...
They were to make life more interesting...
They gave me a captivated audience...
I loved it.

There were snowball fights, paper routes, home-made cookies, a Pretty Blue Canopy bed, an awesome record player, sleep-overs, Girl Scout camp outs, Atari, Lemonade stands, & Jungle gyms

I also had some "heavier" things to deal with when I was a young child..

My parents divorced.
My mom re-married.
My new step-grandparents made it very clear to me that I was dumb, ugly, and unacceptable.
My baby brother was born, and died several months later due to a heart defect.
My sister was born the following year.
My big brother Dan and I were physically abused by our step father.
I had the added bonus of sexual abuse at that age as well.

For some reason I didn't tell...
I didn't tell my friends.
I didn't tell my teachers.
I didn't tell my brother.
I didn't even tell my mother whom I trust 100%.
I don't even remember thinking of it as a "Big Secret",
It was just something I knew I didn't like,
I knew I wanted it to stop...
But (until a few months ago) I never told...

I don't know if I was ashamed, or if I thought it was "normal", or if I thought, with my well-known liar status, no one would believe me...
No matter the reason...
No one knew...
Because I never thought to tell them.

Life went on...

In Jr High a lot changed...

We moved to North Carolina without the evil step-father.
We shared a split-level house with my grand-parents.
I met my first boyfriend. He and I became life-long friends.

Weekends were filled with long walks and long talks with my big brother Dan, swinging on vines over the creek, sneaking into the Country Club pool, Hot Fire Jolly Rancher candy sticks were enjoyed with small glass bottles of real Coke, & there were ghost stories around the backyard fire.
I was very involved in a wonderful church youth program.
I had lots of friends.
Nights were filled with games of Flashlight-Tag and a living room full of teens watching movies and talking late into the night.
I went to my first formal dance.
I was a Candy Striper at Duke University Hospital.
I got my first "real" job at Baskin Robbins.
I dated some really great boys as I was maturing into a young woman.

My head & heart shared all those amazing memories with some horrific & life-changing ones too.

My grandparents began quietly trying to shake my faith in my mother, well... they tried to shake my faith in anyone other than them!
I had my first broken heart.
My brother, Dan, was hit by a car on one of his nightly walks.
He lived for 23 hours after the accident... And then he was just gone.
I lost what tiny bit of interest I had in school and failed the 8th grade.
My grandparents didn't know how they would ever "Hold their heads up at church ever again." because I was such a disappointment for failing that school year.

My mother, realizing that living with my grandparents was no longer good for any of us, re-married and we headed for Texas.

Like most young women in  High School,, I had all sorts of grand plans.
I was going to be a strong independent woman.
I was going to conquer  the World.

But at the same time I was dreaming up these plans, something inside me began to change.

I became sort of withdrawn,
Unless I was at work, playing the customer service super-star, I was no longer the talkative popular one,
I was that girl in school who everyone saw daily, but no one knew her name.
I was battling with major insecurities..
Was I thin enough?
Pretty Enough?
Smart enough?
my answer was always a resounding NO.

I was haunted by one massive question.
Why had God taken my brother?
He was the "Good" one...
He was the smart one.
He was the popular one.
He was the handsome one.
He was Honest.
He was a better Christian.
He did everything "right", and I felt like everything I did was.... WRONG.

He was the better...

This never-ending burning question affected everything I did & everything I believed.
If I got into trouble for getting a bad grade, I was certain it was because my mother wished I had died instead of Dan.
If a boy I liked, didn't like me, I knew it was a punishment for being the "wrong" one left alive.
My mother never ever said anything or did anything to make me think those things..
They were feelings that, for whatever reason, came from within me.

I did have one very close girlfriend in High School, we were inseparable.
She was my life-saver.  She is my best friend to this day.
She was the wild one. She helped draw me out of my solitude, and I helped keep her feet on the ground. We were a good team.  I was the "Mother-Hen" friend... I held back the hair after a party, I was the designated driver, the bad boy chaser-offer, the excuse-to-parents-maker-upper. The "Cool" head in a crisis friend.

I began to date.
I was always drawn to the "Bad Boys".
The bad boys who I would walk in and find in bed with some random girl.
The ones who would get physical when angry.
The ones who, basically,  treated me like crap.

Once again, I kept quiet.
When I would catch them with another girl, or with hickies on their necks, I would never say anything about it, I pretended it didn't even happen, then I would go home and cry, but act like everything was fine the next day.
I would hide bruises, and accept apologies too quickly.
I don't know if I didn't think I was "worth" anything better?
Or if I thought they would change when they saw that I would stick beside them no matter what...

But, I didn't say anything...

I became very skilled at putting on a show.
I played a strong and confident woman, when inside I was unsure of everything.

Before too long, I found myself 20 years old, and a single mother.
Once again, I didn't say much of anything.
I didn't ask for child support.
I didn't demand help.
I didn't want to "bother" or inconvenience him.

One footstep in front of the other, (and with LOTS of help and support from my mother)
 Life went on...

I met the man who would become my husband.
He was a good guy.
It wasn't a passionate affair by ANY stretch of the word.
But I was confident he would be a good husband, & a good father.
We were married and had 2 more children together.
During the marriage I felt taken for granted,
My wants and needs were treated as an afterthought.

And, just like always, I didn't say anything.
I didn't demand respect.
I didn't scream for honesty.
I didn't ask for tenderness.
I didn't request kindness.
I believed the countless empty promises.
I hoped things would change.
They did not...
When I noticed it was affecting my children,
 I decided to end the marriage.

Unexpectedly I soon met, fell in love with, and married the "Man-of-My-Dreams"
He made me feel cherished, He made me feel special, He made me feel lucky!.
I fall more in love with him every day.

As I got older I started realizing that I didn't really know "who" I was.
I was Mom & Wife & Daughter & Friend, I knew these rolls well.
But...  I didn't know who "Dana" was.
I don't know if I ever really did.

When I turned 40 it's like a switch flipped.
Gone was the girl who kept her mouth shut.
Gone was the woman who would fiercely protect those she loved while doing nothing to protect herself.
Gone was the woman who let people walk all over her.
Once I opened my mouth, I didn't stop.

I feel comfortable in my own skin,.
I feel confident in who I am.
I am smart.
I am competent.
I am Worth It!

But...  I still have one burning question...
Why did it take 40 years  for me to share my secrets?
Why did it take 40 years for me to realize I was worthy of being happy?
Why did it take 40 years for me to realize I deserved respect?
Why did I keep my mouth shut for so long?

I was never alone.
I have a very strong woman as my roll model, I have always trusted her 100%.
I had a very protective big brother.
Why didn't I tell them?
They would have listened.
They would have helped.
They would have protected me.

Why didn't I say something... anything?

No..  I don't have the answer to share with you today.
But... I can promise you.
That quiet, doormat of a woman is dead.

Hang on to your hats.
My next 40 years are gonna rock!

Pin It!

54 amazing comments. Talk To Me!!:

small farm girl said...

Good for you! It took me a while to "come into it" also. I completely understand. You have been through a LOT more than I have, but I think around our age a light bulb just goes off. Or should I say comes on. Maybe it's just "growing up"?

Darya Wodetzki said...

Wow! Loved this story! Thank you for being transparent and real!

akhurnu said...

I couldn't stop reading your story. Like you, I was sexually and physically abused. I "forgot" but acted out, growing angry and hateful. I tried to be a"normal" girl, had one relationship with a nice guy that went too far for me. Then I found the Lord. My healing began. It's been a long, hard road, but I married a pastor who gives 100% no matter what. It's called the 100/0 principle. Give 100% and expect 0 in return. If you get more than 0 %, it's a bonus. We have a beautiful daughter that almost didn't survive her first day on this earth and hang on tentatively for a few days after before making a miraculous recovery and astounding her doctors and nurses. We'd had people praying nationwide. I never lost a sibling. The strength it must take to live with that must be tremendous. Remember always that you are loved. You have a purpose. You are precious to the Lord. Kick butt! Live! Love fiercely even if you get nothing in return! And praise God, who created an amazing woman in you and gave you the strength to survive the evil of the world.

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Heather said...

I'm moved by your honest and raw insight to your past and how you became the person you are today. I'm sitting with my morning coffee now reflecting on my own life and realize I don't think I could be so honest, but probably should. I'm so happy you found yourself and your inner strength.

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