Monday, January 19, 2015

Let the Story Begin

And. Here it is. I'm putting it all out there. I've been contemplating, struggling with, ignoring, writing, ignoring some more, dealing with, overcoming, facing new aspects, healing, contemplating some more, and mustering the courage to share my story for the last 6+ months. I still don't know the best way to put this out there, so I'm just going to do it. It may be one random post, or perhaps it'll turn into a series of posts. Idk. But just like my fabric addiction post, I really feel like the only way to completely let go and overcome, is to share it. (On the note of fabric purchases, by the way, I have seriously done awesome!!!!! No urges, no struggle, no purchases - in any areas of my life. All spending urges are gone. It's been amazing!! Thank you all for letting me share, and for helping me in my journey!! It feels so good to be FREE!) 

OK, you're probably wondering what I'm even referring to in this story that I need to share. Well, it's my life story. It's full of emotion and, well, things that I need to own, and let go of. There have been plenty of things that I have wasted my time blaming others for, being angry about, and being ashamed of. But if I truly believe that God gave me this life for a reason, then I really have no reason to feel any of those feelings. I recently read a quote by Dieter F Uchtdorf that talked about forgiveness, and how when we forgive others, that is when healing comes. The healing I have been searching for my whole life. My hope is that by sharing my story I can let go, finally fully forgive, and come to a better understand God's purpose in giving me the life I've lived. 

DISCLAIMER: This is simply my life. I am not expecting or asking for pity or comfort, or whatever. I am sharing this for my own reasons, and don't even expect anyone to read it. Though I'm sure some will. I also do not want any judgments made against anyone that played a part in my story. It's my story not theirs. I don't know the reasoning or background to any of their actions, and neither do you. So the actions, or lack of actions, of others are not my focus here.

I'll start with the facts, OK, the facts that are chuck full of my perceptions of how these facts shaped my own self image and world view:

I'm the youngest of 8 children. When I was 17 my dad told me I was an unwanted surprise. My parents got divorced when I was 4 and I grew up with my mom and the next youngest sister and brother. I also grew up being told I was a brat and mean when I was a kid. And that's the view I had of myself from my family. That I was just the annoying unloved brat. It wasn't until 2014 that I actually started having substantial feelings that my siblings saw worth in me beyond just being another person in their family (that I'm actually an individual with something to contribute). Up until that point I almost always felt out of place, lonely, and uncomfortable at family get togethers. 

Next fact: I was a kindergarten dropout. Per the divorce, my mom had to go back to school. She'd leave before kindergarten would start, so she'd set the kitchen timer. When it went off, was when I was supposed to leave for school. Being 5 years old, I didn't know how to read a clock, and I didn't hang out in the kitchen all morning. I missed more days of school than I went. First grade was better, but I still missed a LOT. Bad habits from the beginning are hard to break, a lack of structure and support doesn't help either. I still couldn't read after first grade, so that summer my dad read with me everyday, and by second grade I was caught up with my class. 

Come second grade we were going to move to Texas so my mom could get her masters degree. We didn't leave until October, but she didn't make us go to school at all before we moved for months. School in Texas was different and terrifying. Bad habits didn't help either. I would kick and scream to not have to go to school, and was required to make up days and go to Saturday school because I missed so much. Things slowly got better as I got older. And I started liking school a lot more as I had good teachers who cared, and made good friends in my classes.

A lot of days I'd walk the mile home from school to an empty house. By the end of our 5 years in Texas, my mom didn't come home most days until 7pm, due to fulfilling requirements of getting her masters degree. My brother and sister were also busy doing their stuff with friends and whatever in high school. It was a lonely five years.

For years I would go to bed wishing it was all just a dream and I'd wake up back in Utah. Some days I would literally scream at my mom for attention, as she would sit on the couch watching TV ignoring me. I was definitely a neglected child. One thing it did teach me was independence and self sufficiency. Traits I am grateful for. 

I also didn't go to church much at all, although my family went probably every week. As it's referred to in my faith, I was less active, or inactive, basically my entire life until my senior year of high school. Though my brother often encouraged me to read the Book of Mormon. He had been a caring persistence in my life that I have forever been grateful for (and in my book, miracle #1). The last year we were in Texas he and I actually started to become friends, and that really meant a lot to me.

Then we moved back to Utah. The first year back we lived with my aunt and uncle (miracle #2). They were a strong example to me of what a family can be, and how to build upon a sure foundation. An example I drew upon heavily while we lived in Florida last year, among other times.

After that year we moved into our own place (my mom, sister, and I). I think my sister only had one more year left before she left for college so most of the rest of my teenage years was just me and my mom. The habits of neglect didn't change much. My mom spent most of her time in bed, and I ran wild with friends doing basically whatever I wanted whenever I wanted wherever I wanted. Something that at times I wanted to change, but with absolutely no support at home, those are tough habits for a 14-15 year old to change on her own. I basically dropped out of school again in 9th grade to avoid the situations I didn't want to be involved in. The best solution I could come up with on my own, though I wish someone would have found a better one, as it really didn't help anything. It just meant I was home, ready to hang out with the other kids who weren't in school either. Every kid needs friends.

The summer after 9th grade (which was Jr. High, so the summer before I went into high school), I left and lived with my oldest sister in England for the summer. It was awesome! We saw Europe, toured Germany for a month (where my true love for that country and that language began). We did fun stuff, felt like a family, went to church, I went to girls camp for the first time (and felt totally out of place. Lol). But it was a good summer, and I'm positive miracle #3. 

The next two years in school were good. I went, made good friends, did pretty good in my classes. My junior year I actually lived with my dad for the year. I went into that year expecting to have the father I never grew up with, but was mistaken. He cared for me, but instead of building bonds and filling the holes-of-a-broken-childhood I was hoping for, the pressure to have friends, get a job, do good in school, were overbearing, and he was often gone with his girlfriend. 

Each summer as I'd get out of a routine, and get bored, I'd think I was safe from falling back into old habits, and would hang out with old friends, and find myself battling the same old battles. Finally my senior year of high school I made really good friends with my peers in my church congregation, or ward. Miracle #4.

This was the first year I really got involved with church and spiritual things. I'd struggled for years with depression, seeing psychiatrists, trying medications that never worked. One time they put me on Zoloft and I hid in my dad's house (when I was living with my mom) and had a panic attack for a week. It was really rough. But that all changed as I found God in my life. I always believed and had a testimony of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I knew they lived, we were God's children, and they loved us. But it was never more than just a testimony. I would pray sometimes, but not regularly. I would read scriptures, but not regularly. It wasn't until I really repented of my sins, and lived the principles that God asks of us, that I found happiness and peace in my life. Besides for a small period of time to treat my fybromyalgia, I haven't been on antidepressants since. No wonder medications never worked. I wasn't chemically depressed, but rather I was living a depressing lifestyle. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints really helped turn that around for me.

Now I have to add, coming from a pretty non judgmental Texas to an insanely judgmental Utah Valley, was a tough transition for someone in my position. Being inactive and not living as everyone expected, or wanted, I butt heads a bit with members of the church. Yep, I got judged and offended - by my peers and adults on the street that I didn't even know! Like I said, I always believed, but the gospel and doctrine of the church can sadly be far different than the people in the church. I let that get in my way for a long time. It wasn't until I started living for me, not for everyone else, that I found my strength and joy in the gospel. Because if you think about it, no one else has ANY part in my relationship with God, except me and God, and Jesus. If you quit going to church because of how the people make you feel, or don't make you feel, then you are missing a great deal. Trust me. I know.
OK, back to the story.

I didn't graduate high school with my class, but rather did packets over the summer at an alternative school. I finished and graduated two weeks before fall semester of college started. 

Yep, I went to college! Thanks to my dad!! Miracle #5. It wasn't really anything I ever thought of, but I'm not sure I really had a choice either. Lol. Luckily it was important to him and he sent all of his children to college. That first year of college I lived in the dorms on campus. It was a blast! But for the first time living on my own, away from either parent, my struggle with anger and resentment really began. I was furious for the life my parents gave me. Angry that I had to deal with the struggles I faced, angry at what could have been, even the life that most of my other siblings had had was way better than what I was dealt. The parents I grew up with were a different set of parents than the rest of my family had. I don't even think much of my family knows much of my story. Which is fair, because I don't know much of theirs either. 

I think I failed every class I took that first semester, and that was the only semester in which that happened. The rest of college was pretty good, with a few bumps here and there. I did even get a 4.0 one summer semester (I had three classes). And I am fully bragging about that! ;) 

I studied ornamental horticulture, and declared art just so I could take all the classes I wanted. ;) Then I decided to change my major. I tried natural science, but didn't end up liking it. After that semester I served a mission for my church. After the first year of school, I changed wards (congregations) and had an amazing student ward!!! Met some of the best people of my life!! They definitely impacted me in my decision to serve. 

In May of 2003 I left to serve in the Munich Germany/Austria mission. Miracle #6. I started out in Vienna. I loved it!! I then went to W├╝rzburg and boy did they speak fast compared to those in Vienna!! Lol. Anyway, it was a great 18 months. I learned, I grew, I struggled. I was diagnosed with fybromyalgia - something I'd suffered with severely for years before. That diagnosis was a huge blessing!!

I came home in January 2005. I took that following semester off and stayed busy painting my dad's house, and who knows what else. I realized with my new German skills I could graduate quicker by staying a German major, than by finishing what I'd been working towards for years. ;)

The summer after I came home I was working on the grounds crew at campus. One day as we were getting ready to leave I didn't feel so great. My heart was pounding all the way down to my toes. I was going to go home and sleep it off, but then I couldn't breathe so my friend took me to the emergency room. My bishop was actually the ER doctor, which was comforting, until he stopped my heart. ;) it was racing at about 230 beats per minute. It is physically impossible to get your heart rate up that fast. I was diagnosed with supra ventricle tachycardia (SVT). I had surgery a month later. (The doctor who did the surgery said my heart was in the top 5 fastest heart rates he'd seen in the 8 years he had been working with this diagnosis. Wahoo! I made the top 5! If you're going to do something, do it good!) 

For that month before my surgery, and the months following, I suffered severely with post traumatic stress. I dropped a bunch of classes that semester so I wouldn't flunk. I felt like everyone in my life, friend and family, disappeared off the face off the planet. I was literally completely alone. It was a really hard time. But I came out of it. 

The next summer I went back to Germany for some study abroad programs. Another fantastic summer!! Soon after I came home I started hanging out again with my now husband. We actually met in high school when I was living with my dad. Our first date was actually Jr Prom. (Awwww! Cute!) Lol. We didn't date, but we're best friends for years after. Until he got me fired from my job before my study abroad summer. Haha. When I got back he sent me a text before he was going to delete my number from his phone. We started chatting, went on a date, dated some more, he kept talking about getting married, I wasn't really hot about thinking about that then. But then we did talk about it and got married that December. I graduated the following May! 

Kindergarten dropout to college graduate. Miracle #7. 

We've been married for 8 years now and have 4 children. We've lived in 7 homes in 4 states. It's been an interesting ride. I'd say I'm the only one that brought issues into the relationship, but that would be a lie. Though we have completely opposite ways of dealing with them. 

I spent most of my life observing families and picking what I would and would not do in my family. When beginning a family I didn't factor in that it takes two, and I can't control the other person. Not that I'm a controlling person, but having expectations of the other person fitting the mold I imagined, doesn't exactly work as hoped. It's been a learning curve, as well as a lot of work, which I'm sure all marriages require. A whole new level of understanding and acceptance. 

Anyway. When I was pregnant with number three, I was put on bed rest for the last three weeks. That was the end of my regular cooking meals... Since then until now (three+years later). My hubby took that over. After she was born I had really bad postpartum depression. I dove head first into blogging, sewing, quilting, my fabric addiction and shopping addiction began. I really had a lot of struggles. A few months later I got really sick with postpartum thyroiditis. I had terrible anxiety, would get fainting spells, didn't drove a car for about three months. Then it just went away. 

Then we moved to Iowa, and I think a lot of my story is found in this post

Skip to now. We lived in Florida for 6 months, and now we are in northern Idaho. 2014 was a huge year for finding myself, accepting, letting go, moving on, healing, forgiving, .... And it's been very empowering. This year I have picked my phrase for the year to be "OWN IT". So here I am. Owning it. 

And since my life isn't over, I can't really end my story. So here is my awkward abrupt ending. :) 

Here is to a great year ahead!! One of owning my life, taking action to make it what I want, to be who I want to be. 

May you also have a great year!!

22 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Sorry, I got a little too personal myself.

      I just wanted to say I think this is brave. Good for you, and I hope your journey of healing continues :)

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  2. You are a brave woman and a survivor. Although you've had a hard struggle you should feel proud of the woman that it has shaped you into. xoxo

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  3. God bless you. We all have our battles. I am so proud of you for how you have managed yours. Funny how the internet can help us connect to people all over the place.

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  4. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  5. I love your honest posts. They help me feel compassion and remind me that you, and others are real, wonderful people behind all the pretty things we make. It also causes some introspection that I think is warranted and welcome. My word for the year is brave

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  6. Oh bless you. Being vulnerable on your blog is so hard. I used to be very much so on mine and then hit a few bumps that I didn't know how to write about and quit blogging ... I'm slowly coming to my place of recovery - my word of the year is "restoration" - all that to say that I congratulate you for your bravery in sharing and I pray you find the healing you deserve.

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  7. I commend you for posting this. It was very brave. It takes a lot of courage to tell your story and take ownership of who you are...the good, and the parts you feel are not so good. Congratulations on taking your first step to "owning it" this year. You are most certainly on your way.

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  8. I love you Diane and your amazing strength and honesty!!! xoxo

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  9. What an incredibly honest story of what you've gone through. You're so brave to put everything out there and "own it". I've been using that phrase for a few years now and
    Love that it makes me accountable. Not sure I could bare all like you did, so my applause to you for doing so. Just like the song says "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Hugs

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  10. You're such a brave person and I admire you for that but I admire you most of all for managing your life so well although it has been such a difficult ride and you were left on your own during many difficult phases. I wish you the very best and lots of love to keep you warm! Greetings from Germany

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  11. Diane, thanks for sharing this. As you said, there's a lot in your story that I didn't know, though I had a general idea of most of it.

    A few comments.

    First, my two most vivid memories of you as a kid were 1) how you'd pick pieces of stuffing out of your diapers, which earned you the nickname "Popcorn", and 2) there was a time after my mission and before you moved to Texas that we went ice skating at the rink in Logan. I remember thinking that you must have been the cutest girl at the rink (...in a totally non-creepy way. That sounds kinda weird when I type it out. :-)

    I don't remember ever thinking of you as an annoying little kid...at least not any more than any child thinks of their siblings from time to time. If I'm calculating right you were 4 when I left on my mission, 6 when I got back, and maybe 8 when you moved to Texas. I wish I'd had more time to get to know you as you grew up. For a long time, in my mind, the image I had of you was of the little kid, so it seemed strange (but awesome) to see all the things you've accomplished.

    Second, about mom. Up until sometime in my teens (within a year or two one way or the other of when you were born), mom was a great source of emotional strength to me. I've since learned that she'd struggled for years with her own challenges, but she'd still managed to be very supportive. Then she got involved in "The Good Life", and everything completely changed, at least from my perspective -- instead of support and nurturing, analysis. I don't know how that impacted anyone else, but it was a big loss for me. I'm sorry that you didn't get time with the mother I had when I was younger.

    Third, about dad. I don't think he's changed as much as mom did from how he was when the rest of us were growing up, though that doesn't necessarily mean that your experience has been just like the rest of ours. He's always had high expectations of us, which has at times felt like a lot of pressure. I think I'm running into the same challenge with my kids as he had with me -- trying to figure out how to inspire them to live up to a potential that they don't seem to have much vision of. Maybe the solution is to focus more on the vision and confidence, and less on the pressure to go after it. I don't know yet.

    Finally, you are awesome. You've survived some incredible challenges, and not just survived, but found a way to rise above them and become a wonderful person. That's no small feat. Of course, with Heavenly Father and Jesus on our side, anything is possible. I'm so happy to see that you were able to find your way to where you are.

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  12. Diane,

    Stories like this make me think how often we have NO IDEA what people's life stories are. I've known you for years, and back when we were in the 52nd ward together I would never have guessed any of this. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for being so brave. You are amazing.

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  13. I just tried to post something but I don't see it, so hopefully I don't end up with 2 posts. Ha ha... anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. That was brave of you. You have been through so much. It makes me sad that as cousins we are not close (and I mean more than just you and me, but all of us). My husband is so close with his cousins and I see that we have missed out on something special. I love you and admire your fighting spirit. Keep it up, and keep on inspiring all of us. I enjoy reading what you put out there in the world.
    Kelly Baird

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  14. Hey Diane. Thanks for sharing this. It's crazy that even though we haven't really stayed much in contact, I feel a connection to you. Probably cuz of our relationship. I have always viewed you as a strong person and now I see why. You are strong. Your ability to rise above the pressures of mortality is a sure sign of your strength. I'm sure it will be a great blessing to your kids. I hope 2015 brings a lot of happiness! PS, I also had SVT, with beats in the 230s. Dealt with it my whole life and finally had surgery 3 yrs ago. Crazy, huh. Sending my love and prayers.
    Holly Heward

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  15. Oh Diane, your transparency is so inspiring. Your posts lately have been so honest and refreshing. You are obviously a strong and courageous person and I truly wish you the best through your journey. Prayers for you my friend for strength and peace!

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  16. I completely agree with Jeifner, I love your honest posts and it does remind us that you are an individual with a story to tell. You are brave and strong and open and honest (among other things, all positive and like every human a little negative)

    I am honored to have "met " you. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to your next post and next pattern.

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  17. You've had a really tough life, some of it of your own making. I understand the message you got from your family that you carried with you until this day. My parents were loving and wanted me very much. My brother's were 8 and 12 when I was born. They always gave me really negative messages. I had Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, but that was obviously all in my head, and a way to get out of doing chores. I now have Psoriatic Arthritis also, my one brother outright doesn't believe me. My other brother lives closer and has seen my health decline and knows more about the diseases. I had both hips replaced at age 54, last year actually. I didn't need the surgery according to my one brother, the other one didn't make any comments, but never visited me once, and I live under an hour away. Enough of this depressing stuff. Talking about it, crying about won't change it. I decided to make my own life, and try to erase the message that I'm not really in pain, as it's literally bad for me. I need to believe it's real, and take care of myself. Just like you need to take care of yourself, cdahlgren at live dot com

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  18. Your quilt work is beautiful and expresses the same joyous spirit found in the story you share with us all. A story of life miracles and affirmation that there is nothing we cannot survive and turn into beauty. You are a beautiful lady! Peace and healing to you.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your story. It's such a great reminder that we have no idea what others are dealing with or have overcome in their life.

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  20. i'm pretty speechless after reading this. just found you first on IG through your awesome patterns and came on over. as a fellow saint who has struggled with her own issues (but they seem a lot smaller) all i can say is you've been through a lot and i appreciate your insights so much. you are becoming a beautiful person the hard way! but it's working for you. i hope that makes sense. thanks for sharing your story. and your talents. i think it's so important to see that the lds aren't perfect but that the gospel is what helps us cope, learn, and grow. loved your phrase about the medicine not working because you weren't chemically depressed but living a depressing lifestyle. you have gained a lot of wisdom through these struggles! hugs, sister. =)

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  21. you are beautiful and awesome and strong, thank you for sharing your reality

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