Lately, I have been reflecting on some of the high and low points in my life. I couldn’t help but remember critical moments that changed my whole perspective causing me to question all my beliefs. In the next few weeks, I feel compelled to share these moments with you. I want to take you on a journey of how I arrived here in this mental and physical space. I’m in a sweet spot now. I feel good about myself, I’m happy, I’m progressing in my career, things are going great. My stories are not going to be chronological, but they will be worth reading. Today I am going to write about the time a situation caused me to relocate. Have you ever made a major decision that was out of the ordinary and found yourself explaining to others why you decided to do it? You give them your explanation and find yourself repeating the same story over and over while deep down you know it’s not the whole truth. That was me when I decided to move to Texas.My life was just starting to come together after another major life event. I previously got fired from a job and I was picking up the pieces. I bought my first car. I got my first job with benefits, paid sick days, the works. I moved out of my moms’ house and had a really cool roommate. I was part of a start-up company, Common Sense Entertainment, that my very ambitious friend from college started. I produced a short film that I don’t even like to claim because of all the issues with it. I was working out and going to the best Zumba class every week ( till this day I haven’t found a Zumba class as good as the one I went to back then). I was really involved in my church, volunteering and consistently going twice a week. I was in a good place. Then, out of nowhere, I decided to move.
If things were going so well why would I up and leave? Why would I leave if I was happy with where I was? The truth is underneath all the things that were going right, emotionally something was gnawing at my soul and leaving was the only practical option I saw fit. Think about it like this. When someone asked you how are you doing, it is a friendly banter. I think of it as acknowledging someone’s existence. I see you – are you basically good? Great! At that time when I was asked how are you, on the outside yes I was in good health, I was trying my hardest to progress, but on the inside, I was dealing with an identity crisis. I think it is perfectly normal to tell people you are ok when you really are not. It is perfectly normal if someone asks you how are you to tell them you’re fine, even when you may feel a ton of negative emotions. It is ok to tell the outside world stories. It is not ok to lie to yourself.
Here is a snippet of a blog post I wrote back then:
I am currently at this moment on the road in Mississippi going to Texas. Yes that’s what I’m doing right now. My Dad is driving and he has been eating BBQ sunflower seeds for literally four hours straight. There’s a red solo cup filled with the shells…The top two questions I have been getting is why and how do you feel. My reasoning for moving is illogical in that it doesn’t make normal sense…The other question, how do I feel, I do not know… However, I am fully confident in my decision, therefore I am also content and satisfied.
Stories – the story that I told others was that I was moving to Texas to try something different. It sounded nice, adventurous even. I was packing up the life I knew in my hometown and moving to a completely different state. I use to get mixed responses. Some people would encourage me to do something different while others were confused. “I always visited my dad in Texas, it’s like my second home” is something else I would tell people- stories. “I do not have any job prospects and I am leaving the comfort of what I know to explore the unknown,” I thought I was taking a risk- more stories. I buried the truth so deep because I didn’t want it to seep out into conversations. I didn’t want people to know that I was really moving to get over a guy. I wanted out of the emotional turmoil and running seemed like the best option for me. I didn’t want to go around explaining that to people.
Yes it was true that I wanted to see how Texas life would be and I wanted to try something different, and at the same time, I was running. I didn’t want encouragement, I didn’t want to be convinced that I needed to stay strong, I didn’t want anyone to minimize how I was feeling. I didn’t want anyone to tell me that I was going to be ok. I wanted to move on with my life. I needed to move to start a new life. I even cut my hair a couple of years prior to moving because I was desperately trying to find myself. Before the situation I was confident but after the situation I doubted everything. I started to question the things that I loved doing like writing. I came to the realization that there were a lot of stories I was telling myself.
A story is a belief that is grounded in a strand of ideas that sound good. It resembles truth and is cluttered with made up lifestyles. There were a lot of stories I use to tell myself back then. I thought since I chose not to have a boyfriend as a teenager that made me unique. I thought since I was a virgin into adulthood that it made me a better option than most women. I thought since I was trying to live my life right for Jesus that I was spiritually superior. I thought that since I made sound decisions that I was wise. I thought since I didn’t drink, smoke, or party that I was more spiritually sound than most young adults. I thought since I was saving myself for marriage that I was an amazing person with lots of this self-control – all stories.
They say pride comes before destruction and that is exactly what happened to me. When I “slipped up” I was devastated. I was so devastated that it was hard for me to reconcile with myself. I told myself all these stories of how great I was because of what I didn’t do. So when I did end up making a mistake I felt a great deal of shame and guilt. On top of that, I felt worthless because I found out I wasn’t so different than other girls. I found out that I was human like everyone else. Going through all of these different emotions propelled me to leave the state (mental and physical). Little did I know at the time, a lot of the stories I was telling myself were put there by a system.
I still weep for the young girl who thought she had it figured out. The young girl who lived by the rules for so long thinking that was going to bring her happiness. The young girl that thought she was better than those other girls who made stupid decisions for a man. The young girl who met a guy and felt a connection. The young girl who found herself in a love triangle. The young girl who was taken advantage of. The young girl who had to figure out the hard way that she didn’t have it all figured out. The young girl who was humbled because of her pride. The young girl who moved to Texas because she didn’t know who she was anymore. I still weep for that young girl who thought her world was over because she was now a semi-virgin. She had no idea of the woman she was becoming.
Here is the real story, the truth. I was a young adult. The end. I was naive to the world and I put myself on a pedestal because I refrained from sin. The situation humbled me and helped me to realize that being self-righteous didn’t make me better. Actually, the fact that I had to compare my life to someone else’s to feel good about myself wasn’t real self-esteem. I also realized that my body is my body and whatever I want to do with it is nobodies business. I learned about all the bogus stories I was telling myself and started to take things as they are.
In hindsight, I am glad I made that move. I am glad that I made the decision to do what I could to move forward with my life. While I had a lot of highs and lots of things to be happy about, I felt pathetic, judged, and emerged shame. No one judged me, no one shamed me, no one was negative toward me. My close friends were very supportive of me. But I still felt all those negative emotions in a continuous cycle. One of the questions I always asked myself is when will this be over? Some people may read this and think I was overreacting, but it was a dark time in my life. On the outside, I was progressing, but on the inside, I felt like there was an eternal dark cloud hovering over me. During that time I blamed myself for everything, even for what I was feeling. My feelings came from my beliefs and my beliefs came from the messages that I was being fed since childhood.
One of those innocent, but secretly harmful messages that a woman is not worthy if she is not a virgin. There has to be a better way to teach abstinence besides shaming women who have sex. There has to be a better way to teach girls to value themselves outside of what is between their legs. The fact is grooming a girl into believing that her most precious gift is between her legs is problematic. I don’t have all the answers, but there has to be a better way. So now I am free from all the confusion, shame, and guilt because I do not play into those stories that tell me the way I should live my life. I take life as it is.