Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Story: My Second Marriage: The Run Away Bride

If you are coming over for MugSwap you will want to start here: http://danaraeb.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html

Once we returned from vacation I learned that I was not given the position I so wanted in the police department. The reason given: they did not care for my past decision making and did not feel like I had done enough to overcome my past. Man, that was a pretty swift kick in the gut. At the time I journaled, “I don’t think that’s a hard pill to take. I think it’s the opinion of someone who doesn’t know me.” Of course, my ex-husband used this as an opportunity to tell me how horrible my past truly was. I closed that journal entry praying for God to open my ex-husband’s heart and that would be my last entry until 2007.

During the next four months before our marriage one other thing became really clear to me. As I was walking out of one of the many churches we looked at for our ceremony my ex-husband turned to me and said, “I thought you were supposed to be losing weight for this, but every time I see you you seem to be fatter and fatter. “  I think this is what I get for sharing my life long body image issues, he found something that hurt and used it to his advantage. My ex-husband fought hard against pre-martial counseling believing he wasn’t the one who needed help and that I would benefit more from counseling then he would. We eventually decided to just fly to Las Vegas with my best friend and her husband. We selected Labor Day weekend and proceeded with planning. 

While planning I knew that something was not right I should not feel so unloved by someone I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. I spent many an afternoon in Renee’s living room trying to sort all of this out. The term “equally yoked” came up again as it did in my first marriage. I was again carrying all of the faith, if that makes senses at all. Renee was straight with me, she believed that going to into a marriage with all of the issues we were having would probably ended in divorce. She strongly suggested we stretch out the engagement until we could work things out. Of course when I tried to suggest this to my ex-husband he was furious and believed I was being brain washed. He insisted that I end my relationship with Renee if I was going to continue with him. It’s hard to type - I cut off my mentor, my wise counsel, my second mother. 

Two weeks before we were scheduled to fly to vegas things started closing in on me. During idle time at work I looked up an old flame and started an email conversation. You know what they say idle hands are the devil’s playground. With my self esteem in the gutter I let this person refill my love tank with complements and reminders that I was a pretty awesome person. In something I hate to type, I let the relationship move from emails to meeting, to cheating a week before marriage. I was filling a void and I was out to hurt my ex-husband even though he knew nothing about any of it. 

The weekend following my affair my best friend was throwing me a shower. All my friends and family along with all of my ex-husband’s family were supposed to be there. My friends went through so much working planning this party, but I couldn’t bring myself to go. That’s the afternoon that I drove with now where to go. I just drove through my old neighborhoods, by old schools and did a lot of thinking. That’s the day I became a run away bride. I finally went back to my mother’s house and told her what I had done we were not yet too late for my shower, so she strongly suggested that I suck it and make an appearance. Put on a smile and get through the afternoon. I went, I drank too much champagne, but kept my cool. That night I ended my engagement. I gave him some of the reasons why, but did not share the extent that I let things go. 

The days that followed were pretty much a blur except for my best friend standing in my door way saying she didn’t understand why I insisted on being unhappy. She felt she could not stand by me as I did this. And to be honest I am sure she was pretty pissed about buying a ticket to Vegas that wouldn’t be used. 

As I sit here today I cannot remember the conversation that led my ex-husband and I to get on a plane anyway and head to Las Vegas. I think I believed that I had lost all my friends and his family in this process and maybe, just maybe I could be happy. So we did it, we got married at the Little White Wedding Chapel alone.  Then we flew home and my ex-husband insisted that I dump my cellphone and get a new one in the hopes of keeping people from my past in my past. 
The week after we got back, my ex-husband started asking more questions about my relationship with the other man. I wanted it to be over, I didn’t want to discuss it, so he moved to manipulation. I was actually naive enough to believe that he got yahoo to release my emails and he knew all of the details. I broke down and that’s we he knew it was true, I did actually cheat on him. I felt to make things better that it was time to tell me that he continue the relationship with the girl I worked with and it continued for a good part of the three years we had been together. To add even more insult to injury he made it clear and most of their time together took place in the house where we were now living. I was shocked, I was sickened, but I had no leg to stand on since I had just admitted to my unfaithfulness. To be honest, this is where we should have ended our marriage - call it quits, wave the white flag.

To be continued…

*just so you know after writing this I went back and changed my ex-husband’s real name to read “my ex-husband”. I know it’s a little awkward in some places, but I felt like it needed to be done. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

My Story: My Second Marriage: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly End

If you are coming over for MugSwap you will want to start here: http://danaraeb.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html

Oh man, I’ve been avoiding this topic. I’ve wished I could skip it all together and just move on to where I reached my bottom, but last week I realized I cannot fully explain how I got to rock bottom without sharing my relationship with my second husband: the good, the bad and the oh, so ugly end. 

There is one thing I want to make clear before we get started:

I am a strong believer that people can see the error of their ways and change - I believe I am proof of that in some ways and part (a large part) of me believes that when I ended our marriage my ex-husband got the awakening that he needed. But, I cannot sit here today and analyze my ex-husband in his current state. Right now, in 2015, I do not know my ex-husband. I do not know his feelings on life or what is happening in his current marriage. It really isn’t any of my business and to be honest we really haven’t had any type of relationship in the past eight years (except for some pretty heated fights). I wish him the best, which I feel is serious growth from where I was when our marriage ended. In the past I’ve written about my marriage and it was done out of anger, it was meant to hurt. Today, I do not come from a place of hurting, but I have to let people inside the walls of our marriage, I have to share stories and things (that both of us did) that ended our marriage and sent two people who once loved each other to feelings of detest. 

And I feel before I begin with this story that you need to know that are going to get to see some of my raw areas. There is still, probably, healing that needs to take place with my ex-husband and yes, some forgiveness that I have not allowed to take place. I hope that turning my feelings into words will initiate that healing and forgiveness process. 

Shortly after Shelby was born I went to work for a municipality (city government) as a human resources assistant. The job offered me a great outlet for my creativity, the ability to really develop my public speaking skills and the opportunity to meet so many new people. Things were going great in my career life along with my spiritual life. I was still very tuned into the bible church that I started attending before Shelby’s birth. Even though Jesus had a strong hold on me I still did not feel that I deserved the best. While I had received God’s forgiveness, I still hadn’t forgiven myself - not even close. 

I tell you this because I allowed my relationship with my ex-husband to start off badly. We met almost a year after I started working at the city - while I was working on his floor. Since we were both in pretty high profile departments (and he was going through a divorce) we decided to keep our relationship a secret. Since this was the first relationship (if you could call it that at the time) that I was in since getting pregnant with Shelby I wanted it to be “the one” - the perfect long lasting, wonderful relationship. Unfortunately, I let the relationship turn physical way too quickly and that was really what our relationship was based on for almost a year. Naively I got Shelby involved way too quickly as well, although she was just one and really didn’t know what was going on. On the weekends we did things as a fake family unit, but during the week we acted as if we barely knew each other. 

I could barely contain the excitement and shared our relationship with my girl friends at work, they completely understood the secrecy we were living in and were supportive. My long time friends, the friends who were more family than friends, had different feelings about the relationship I had begun. My ex-husband refused to meet my friends, he would pick me up at their houses by honking and made no effort to even say, “hello.” I can see now, that he had no plans at that time to continue this relationship - he got what he needed to out of it and had no intention to start any type of relationship with my friends. 

This continued during the first year of our relationship. Many times he would suggest that I should see someone else, I should date someone else, but I couldn’t I felt like I was in love. I felt all of the secrecy was just part of the deal while part of me felt like I was being hidden due to some feelings of shame on his part. This all became completely clear to me when I was told by one of co-workers that she had seen my ex-husband with another woman and she had learned that they were dating. I knew this woman who also worked with us and I probably broke twenty human resources laws when I called her desk and confronted her. I was straight with her and explained I had a child involved in this and I needed to know the truth about him. She confirmed everything and I was heartbroken. That day I ended our relationship and spent the evening crying with my best friends whose suspicions were confirmed. 

During the next week things changed for my ex-husband. He came to me saying that yes, he took her to lunch, but nothing more. He proclaimed his love for me. I went back into the relationship that quickly (my insisting) went public. Little did I know at the time that while our relationship went public, his relationship with this woman went on in secrecy. I wouldn’t learn this for two more years.

Our relationship became more public with our family. I started becoming a fixture at his family events. I even mended the relationship between him and my friends - we started doing more and more together as couples. 

As time past we grew closer together and I started to trust him with my ugly stuff - my past. The details of my teenage years, my first marriage and Shelby’s biological father. I’ve always been an open person, but I do not think I had experienced the feel of true shame until I shared my past with ex-husband. As I type this, I still believe it was the worst mistake I made, but at the same time how can a relationship flourish without being real? Self hate multiplied when he asked me to list all of my sexual partners (don’t ever do that - it’s really not anything that needs to be written) and then tell me how ashamed I should be of myself. I should have ended everything then, but I thought I deserved being made to feel ashamed. 

During our second year of dating I started to notice things that should have been red flags. I threw him a really big birthday party at a small Italian restaurant. His mom, his sister, his aunt and uncle and cousins along with my mother were all there. I had a gorgeous cake made and had a big present for him. I put my all into planning it and I even gave him lyrics to a song that I thought was so us. Simply Red’s You Make Me Feel Brand New. Listening to it today I am not sure what I was thinking, I wanted so badly to have the relationship in that song. I wanted him to make me feel brand new, but that evening I felt horrible. He was so angry at me for throwing such a shindig and thought the entire thing was stupid. I stood there smiling as his family thanked me for the evening not knowing that he was miserable and let me know how he felt. This should have been a foreshadowing of the life I was getting into. 

One of ex husband’s biggest threats was Shelby’s biological father. I shared with him too much, when I let him read my journals that dated back to when I was 19. He didn’t understand how I could continue to forgive him for his actions, how I could still let him in my life and how I could have ever had his child. Around this time I let him do one thing that I have regretted so badly, I let  him destroy all my journals. He believe it was the only way that we could move forward - was to erase the past. I journaled almost everyday from the age of 18. I had so much in there that I would love to have today. Man, I wish I could get a do over there. 

Despite all of the bumps in the road I moved into my ex-husband’s home as we started our third year together. I so wanted marriage and pushed for it, probably too hard. I compromised my feelings with cohabiting. A few months after moving in, I left my position at the city for a new career. I started representing public speakers that I met during my time in training and development at the city. I thought it would be wonderful because it allowed me to work from home and learn so much about public speaking. Unfortunately, I got a crash course in how conceited people who make their living selling themselves can sometimes be. I journaled on May 11th that, “I am really going to try to work harder tomorrow, but it gets more and more difficult to work with Al. His better than everyone else attitude gets me.” That will probably make someone reading this giggle - I’ve been pretty consistent with my dislike for conceit. 

Also during that time Jesus found me again. I had wandered off my path and I was getting those little taps on my shoulder. This is not where you are meant to be. What example are you living for Shelby? I reconnected with my mentor, Renee, and she helped me sort my feeling with God’s word. I made the decision to move back into my parent’s house. I encompassed my self in God’s word. Before meeting ex-husband, Renee wrote out a scripture during Easter Service (I still have it hanging my craft room). It was Psalm 37:4 - Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you desires of your heart. I focused on that verse during this time, I got myself right with God and prayed that this verse would come to fruition. 

Also in the journal entry mentioned about I wrote, “I am getting excited about going on vacation. I hope that he and I do ok being together that long. I hope he doesn’t use this as a chance to bring up my past.” I was still living with a pretty consistent reminder of how terrible my past was to ex-husband. My reconnected with God and getting involved in Bible Church did help my ex-husband to reconnect to his faith, unfortunately it did not change his opinion of my past. Before leaving on vacation that May I ended my working relationship with Al and was in the processes of receiving a position back at the city - this time in the Police Department. I thought things were going exactly as God wanted, so when my ex-husband asked me to marry him the night before we left I thought for sure I was getting the desires of my heart. 

To be continued…

*just so you know after writing this I went back and changed my ex-husband’s real name to read “my ex-husband”. I know it’s a little awkward in some places, but I felt like it needed to be done. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Lie: Just Get Past the Sidewalk

I don’t plan to take a formal stance and say “this is what I believe about the Plan Parenthood issue”. As I was thinking about it last week, though, I wrote this and want to share it with you. 

I think the lie you tell yourself (and you believe because you so wish for it to be true) is that when you exit an abortion clinic and make it past the protestors (or others that are there to save you) that it is done. The pain is done and even though through the drugs they gave you, you still remember what just happened you believe that after a few sleeps those memories will disappear. You believe it because you want to forget this physical pain and you want to forget any of this happened - every bit that led you to make this decision. You believe it will be gone if you get past that sidewalk. 

What women, like me, do not understand is none of that lie is true. Oh, you can push it down deep inside of you and try to keep it there with the help of drugs and alcohol (at least that was my story). 

Most days it will not gnaw at you - you know it is there, but it does not encompass your mind. Even after you have accepted forgiveness through Jesus Christ, it’s still there. A scabbed over wound you think has healed fully. 

But there will be days where it will be raw and wide open. A headline will catch you off your guard and you will think, “What did I do?” On those days you will question God’s forgiveness - how can anyone forgive what you have done. Seven or even 23 years later you will look at your reflection in the mirror with dislike, even hate. Then you mourn. You will cry. You will wish you could go back and change time. Then you will cry some more. 

You wish the lie were true - just get past the sidewalk and it’s over. You’ll always wish the memories ended at the sidewalk, but it doesn’t. The fact that you have been a part of ending a life (or lives in my case) never goes away. 

I can not take a stance about what is going on because I cannot bring myself to watch the videos. And since I refuse to educate myself about the situation I cannot express my opinion. I know that what little I have read made me shudder and sent my memory right back into that room. I am sorry, but if I stay in that room remembering all the details I will fall apart. 

Please do not believe I am taking the easy way out, I have put myself back in that room many times. I remember the light, the smell, the entire event and I have worked really really hard to accept the forgiveness given to me through our Savior. They make a lot of things perfectly clear as you go through this, but the one thing they never really tell you is that it doesn’t end at the sidewalk - it is with you forever.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Story Behind Come On

Today, I wear a delicate gold chain around my neck. From the chain hangs a small dog tag style pendant that says, “Come On!”.

Now, in normal everyday language you usually hear these two words with things like “let’s go”, “you’ve got to be kidding me?” or a simple “already!”. This combination of words is usually a signal of discontent of some sort. 

Come On

Two simple words that grew a friendship even more. Two simple words that turned renewed childhood friendships to a bond that makes us feel more like sisters than old friends. 

Unfortunately, this story starts with a tragedy. Shortly after the birth of my middle child, Bekah, I attended a funeral for my childhood friend, Tiffany.  A tragic car accident the week before took Tiffany’s life. She left behind four young children and a husband. I had not seen Tiffany in well over 20 years, but when you lose someone you have had countless memories with you do your best to pay your last respects at their funeral (or at least I do). I was relieved to find out that my friends, Lacy and Gloria, also wanted to make the almost two hour trek that would lead us to a tiny, tiny far North East Texas town. 

I do not recall why we were running behind, but we rushed into a crowded funeral home, signed the guest book with our maiden names, and walked into a  chapel was becoming standing room only (which is normal when a young person dies) (yes, 34 is young). Me being me (with no fear of funerals and the dead) was over joyed when an usher escorted us to actual seats. We received odd “who are these women?” looks as we were escorted past all the other mourners to  the second row across the aisle from Tiffany’s family. It was due to that or the way we filed in  - Red Head, Hispanic Girl, Red Head - each dress completely in black. 

I sat next to a young man I can only describe as a good ole’ boy (no disrespect intended). I shared pleasant smiles with him before glancing in front of me to see Tiffany laying peacefully in a dark casket. She was still very petite with dark hair. Memories of her flooded my mind - sleepovers, birthday parties and school dances. Sadness then took over as her family was seated across the aisle. 

Kleenexes were passed between our seats as a myriad of people stood at a podium in the corner  of the room telling stories of Tiffany’s short life. After some good old Southern Baptist hymns, the pastor took his place at the podium. This is when the funeral turned from sadness to extremely humorous, at least to me and my dear friends who sat to the right of me. 

The pastor spoke just a you would expect from any small town Baptist pastor. He gripped the podium strongly as his voice raised for each point he wanted to drive home. A brunette cowboy who sat on the front row directly in front of us was feeling the message more than anyone else in the chapel on that cold February morning. 

Lacy, Gloria and I were all a bit startled the first time he grunted out, “Come On!” in response to something the pastor said. To say this pallbearer was filled with the Holly Spirit would be an understatement, with every inflection of the Pastor’s statement the cowboy would get more worked up. His “Come On”s were filled with more and more passion until he could barely keep his seat. It appeared he was watching a tense college football game instead of a funeral. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all about passion for the word and Jesus, but from what I recall we got the giggles right out the shoot though we coughed them out and tried hard to keep them held in. That’s the moment I realized sitting next to Gloria, the one person who can make me laugh till I pee my pants, wasn’t the smartest thing. I did everything humanly possible to keep my composure which included not looking at Gloria. She was feeling that same way as she kept her gaze directly focused on the front wall of the chapel. I believe Lacy was holding herself together better than we were - she’s good at that (sometimes). 

The “Come On”s just kept flowing out of this passionate pallbearer. It became so painful to hold in the hysterical laughter I heard in my head, which, can I just say is a huge feat for me since I am great a laughing at inappropriate times. I normally can leave the room, but we were stuck, so I placed my head in my hands to breathe. This action led the good ole’ boy next to me to looking over  with sympathy almost appearing like he wanted to give me a big hug. 

After what felt like a two hour sermon the pastor wrapped things up with a prayer and we left as quietly as possible dodging the family greeting line as we exited. When we made it safely to the privacy of my car we all took a deep breathe and burst into hysterical laughter. Kleenexes were passed around again as our laughter led to tears (we were laughing so hard we cried - you know the feeling). Other funeral goers got into their cars around us and I am quite sure they thought, “man, those poor girls are so torn up over this.” It was true that our hearts did grieve for our childhood friend, but as a wise woman, named Truvy, once said “Laughter through tears in my favorite emotion.” 

That day “come on” turned from a phrase of discontent to a joyful shout of agreement. And a mother of a newborn, a woman going through a sad divorce and a woman coming to a crossroad in her life sealed a bond that started 24 years earlier. We needed that trip, that event and that cowboy. 

After that day in February 2012, “Come On!” has become a fixture in our friendship language. 

We need a girlfriend date with quiche. 
Come On! 

This (a random cartoon about exercise - or lack of) is so me! 
Come On!

A couple of years later as I prepared for my move to Houston away from my best friends I received a precious gift from them (during a quiche date). 

This pendant on a delicate gold chain that reads Come On!  It’s a reminder of that cold February morning, that cowboy, and a bond that will last a lifetime. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life Changed

Wow, it’s completely amazing how much can change in a few days. 

I don’t really recall the feelings when I was first medicated for ADD, but I want to share with you what life is like right now. 

Things are brighter - literally. 
I am more patient with the girls. 
I am truly happy. 
I woke up this morning and could actually remember what I was thinking when I went to bed! 
I am getting things accomplished. 

Yesterday, I found myself just balling as I cleaned the girls’ table. Here is a video I stopped and took in the process: 

Oh man, the tears. I have them again as I type this. 

Shelby is struggling some with me having so much energy and wanting to clean instead of watching TV. I think Matt is overjoyed! He came home to a clean house and this morning when I said, “I just can work with all this trash on (and around) my desk”, he said, “I’ve been waiting forever for you to say that.” 

I am overwhelmed (in a good) way with the feeling of joy that I have. It’s just amazing to be back, again. 

This may seem crazy to anyone who has not suffered with the effects of ADD, but if you do then you get me, right? And if you don’t get me then you still love me, right? 

Okay, just wanted to let you know that. Now, off to clean the bathrooms. 

Who gets excited about that?


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life Right Now: Living with ADD

As a child I was labeled a daydreamer. Since I was also shy, I caused no problems for my teachers, so no one really noticed that I wasn't following along, I wasn’t keeping up. In the 5th grade I was transition into resources classes for Reading - this was because I could not comprehend what I read. Again, they pretty much just felt like a was lazy - lovely, huh? 

 I made it through high school and part of college without reading an entire book from start to finish. How did I manage that? I am not sure. I got really poor grades and I remember loving movies that were books (like the Outsiders) - it made book reports so much easier. I have always been a writer so I could easily give you 1,000 words - they may not make sense if you actually read the book, but I still did my work (kind of). 

My condition wasn’t apparent during my early employment, but in my mid thirties I went to work in the human resources field. My job was to create visual posters and manage employee training - super easy for me, but when we had a department rearrange and I had to send mass emails, I realized there was something wrong. I just couldn’t seem to do anything without a mistake. I proofread, but still didn’t catch everything. I had to take minutes for meetings and about lost my mind. I could not keep up. 

As I was completing my training to get my real estate license, I spoke to my doctor and he diagnosed me with ADD. This was eight years ago. My life changed with the first dose of medicine. I had switched jobs, but my work quality increased exponentially. I quickly became the go to person with clients and was given employees to manage. Life was good. 

At the same time my ability to write exploded. I was always able to communicate easier through writing then by talking - and that’s just another quirk of someone with ADD. My mind cannot keep up with conversations, but if you write me and I write back, then things flourish. (this is why you get texts from me instead of phone calls). Now, medicated Dana can carry on long meaningful conversations - I loved the conversations I could have medicated. I am sure that you have been able to read some of my earlier blogs and those came from my medicated time (except while I was pregnant). I used to sit down (at work mind you) each morning and writing at least two (sometimes 5) blog posts before lunch. I could not keep the words from flowing out of me. 

My mind was always going - always creating.  My mind was always going in a good way. Right now, even as I type this, my mind is going, but is scattered. Bekah just walked in the room and now I am thinking about everything I need to do for her this evening before bed. You see in a normal mind that would be something you would think and you would recover. You might even be able to get up from your keyboard and do something to come back to typing and continue like nothing happened. For me, that distraction (my child is not a distraction, but her talking to me does distract me from what I am doing - understand?) would send me down a rabbit hole and it could take me sometimes an entire day to start what I am doing again. I know it sounds crazy because it is. As I type this (with the help of Matt assisting with the girls) I have on headphones with music. I have to block out everything else in a room (even sometimes my text notifications) to get through even the most simple writing. 

I have trained myself during the last year to do things that help me to function. Music helps (but talking commercials in the middle of music don’t) me stay on track and blocks out distractions. I’ve learned that if I am going to clean a room I start in one corner and work out. I cannot leave the room to put things into other rooms, so I keep a tote with to store things until I can leave the room. It is best if I clean while Matt is at home so he can keep the girls upstairs or in another room. I am telling you that I have been cleaning a bathroom and then find myself sitting in the dining room (not that I black out and don’t remember getting there) with a half cleaned bathroom because I’ve gotten distracted. On a normal week each of my rooms are partially cleaned, projects are half done and I stand in the middle completely overwhelmed. 

Overwhelmed. That is the feeling that led me to seeking help again for my condition. That overwhelmed feeling has led to major depression during the past year. I think the depression has come from the fact that I no longer create. I’ve stopped sewing completely because I can’t get through one bunting or one dress for the girls. My writing has slacked off because I can’t stay focused long enough to make my thoughts translate onto the page and I’ve stopped being able to comprehend what I read. These are my loves (besides my husband and children) and they’ve been gone from my life. Then add my inability to keep up with housework and I feel like a complete failure most days. 

That’s my life right now. 

Last Monday, I saw a specialist and finally had a true ADD test done. I was so nervous because going in because I didn’t realize it was an actual test, I thought I would have to explain kind of what I’ve just done to you and beg for him to say, “yes, I agree you have this condition.” Again, communication orally isn’t my strong suite especially when you add anxiety to the mix.  I was relieved with I learned that I would actually be tested, then I started the testing which left me feeling like a complete nut job. 

I first started with recognition. I would have to say wether of not a shape (like a star) was in a line of shapes. I had to answer as many as could in two minutes. Pretty easy. 

Then I had to do something that reminded me of a hidden message decoding. There was a sentence of shapes and I had to fill in the blank with the letter that corresponded with that shape. Pretty standard elementary work. Again, I had to do as many as I could in two minutes without skipping any. I found when I sped up I made mistakes - pretty typical though. 

After that we moved to puzzles and sequences starting with blocks that I had to form into shapes. This I remember from being tested for resource in elementary school. It was slightly harder than the other things, but not too bad. Sequence was doing “what comes next” with patterned shapes. I hope I am making sense. 

Those who suffer with ADD have a tendency to be very visual learners so everything above was pretty easy to get through, then he pulled out the big triggers. He read out to me a set of number and I had to say them back to him. Starting with one or two at a time, then growing to 10. 

This lead to me having to state the numbers in the reverse order than they were given, then I had to repeat them in numerical order. I found my self looking straight down trying to not to get distracted by my surroundings. If I could I would have put my hands over my eyes to help me concentrate on the words coming out of his mouth. 

Just when I thought I was going to lose my mind he started throw out word problems that I was to solve with no paper (so just in my crazy jumbled head). I could hardly do anything of them and I excel in math! 

It was so mentally taxing, but so worth the pain. I received what I need for years - the confirmation that yes I do have ADD. I actually scored the highest for my age level. I’m not just a daydreamer, not just lazy, not just bored - I actually have a condition that I cannot fix easily and I am going to need help to function to the level I need to be. It’s been a relief. 

Tomorrow, I will start medication, again, for this condition. The first thing I have planned is a deep cleaning of my house - exciting, huh? I am over joyed! After that I will finally finish the book I was supposed to review four months ago. Then, I am going to sew! I am so excited for tomorrow and having me back again. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Story: Having a Baby at 23

July 4, 1999

Today is my baptism birthday. 

I was twenty-one when I was baptized in a Presbyterian church, which may seem really odd because I was raised Assembly of God and am now Lutheran. Oh how I wish I had better feelings about the day I was baptized. It was a requirement for marriage in the church, so I thought “why not?”. My Meme cried, so I knew I was doing something right. I do long for a great story around my baptism, some big redemption that led to my baptism. 

The true meaning of my baptism would not be clear to me for two more years. The feeling of forgiveness would come over me as I walked into a church of people I didn’t know, very pregnant and they would great me with a “we know you are unmarried and pregnant, but we love you (maybe even more)” 

So, I probably could have named this blog “Conversations During Road Trips”. I kind of knew that this was coming, but love see how God works. He has been preparing me for this because I’ve been trying to write the story of Shelby’s conception and Shelby’s biological father and really not sugar coat it, but open my self up to people and let them understand that I did not do things correctly. 

When I told Shelby, last week, that it would just be her and I driving half way to North Texas, she was very happy. She said she had some questions she needed to ask me. It took awhile her to her get them out since she was very hesitant about what I would answer and what I wouldn’t answer in regards to her biological father. She hadn’t been ready before, but that Sunday afternoon she felt ready to hear the story. 

Then she final got up the nerves to ask, “was I a mistake?” 

I did not plan to get pregnant, but at the same time I knew what I was doing would possibly cause a pregnancy (I didn’t sleep through all of my freshman health class). She was far from a mistake. She was wanted and cherished as soon as I had a positive pregnancy test. I still remember that day mainly because I accidentally bumped into my aunt at Target while trying to buy a test, I played it cool, but quickly left the store with no test in hand. I was not ready to explain that to my mom’s older sister.  I did wind up purchasing a test and taking it in the bathroom at work. 

It’s funny how most of my memories about those first few days happened at work. I traveled between locations at that time. I remember what location I was in when I told my parents, which probably was the most professional things to do at all since I cried through most of it. I knew what there response would be, but I was not prepared for my then best friend would do. 

When I called and told her, she acted as though she understood and supported my decision, but later her phone accidentally called mine back leave a voicemail that would forever damaged our 15 year relationship. I heard her telling someone else terrible things about me and the fact that I was pregnant and unmarried. It was one of the most hurtful things and I unfortunately had it recorded on my voicemail to listen to again and again. That’s when it hit me - this wasn’t good and people though terrible things of me. At that age I believed everything people said about me (extreme people pleaser). 

It wasn’t until I was maybe seven months pregnant that the Lord sent someone into my life to show my grace and help me understand forgiveness. I had a client (who I was supposed to be counseling) that dug a little deeper into my story each week. Then, she brought me a bible (that I still use today). As she handed it to me she explained that Jesus’ death of the cross wiped clean all of my sins. Jesus still loved me. 

Jesus still loved me. 

It wasn’t the easiest gift to accept - the belief that in all my shame Jesus still loved me. I had battled for months to be love. I did receive love from my parents, but felt shamed by so many people including the family of Shelby’s biological father. Look back I don’t think I realized at the time how damaging all of the words of other people were on me. 

For some reason at this point I can’t bring myself to share the details surrounding Shelby’s biological father - the things I had to deal with. I hope you understand that I can’t bring my self to spill out all the details like Lifetime Movie. I am not sure if I am protecting him, Shelby or myself. I want to say that when I became pregnant I had not daydreams of us getting married and having a family - I knew that would not happened, but I did think at first that he would be a part of her life. As the events played out, I knew that she was mine and I would raise her alone and you know, I was fine with that path. I embraced raising that sweet girl on my own - I owned it - she was all mine (which is probably why I am so over protective of her - she’s mine). 

I think I am through all the yuck of the situation and I live in the forgiveness which is right where I was on September 13, 2001 - just two days after our Nation suffered such a huge loss. Looking back at my time in the hospital I was realize that I was still so young and now realize why the staff treated me that way. I was young, but so filled with God’s glory - I was the most committed to my faith during that last few month’s of my pregnancy. I couldn’t get enough of learning and prayed continuously. I felt like I had received a huge blessing - I did, all 8 pounds of her. I was in love the moment I saw her - she was absolutely perfect. 

I wish I could say that single parenthood got easier once Shelby was in this world, but it didn’t. I was the first (for a long time) of my friend to have a child which left me out of so many things. My friends were finishing college, going on trips, having brunch and coffee while I was making bottles. I did miss some life experiences, but I don’t think I felt the longing for those things then. As I look back today, I wish I finished college (I still can), but in reality I received something so much bigger than a college degree - I found the true meaning of grace. I found Jesus, I understood the words I said when I was baptized two years before. And that I would not change for anything. 

And I love my girl. She’s absolutely amazing.