Most of my childhood life was spent moving around the country. Sometimes our family moved twice a year and one year we moved three times! I was always a bit of on outcast because I never seemed to talk or dress the same as the other kids. A lot of the time I was picked on and I hated gym class because I was always picked last for the teams or made fun of because I was not really much of an athlete.
Friends where something I did not have a whole lot of and usually if I did make a friend it was with the new kids or the ones like me that nobody else liked. It was really hard moving around and I never really became to close to anyone and I never really had a whole lot of self confidence and I never felt like anything was permanent. The feeling of nothing being permanent was a good thing though because if I did not like where we were I always could count on that we would be moving again soon.
At the beginning of my 9th grade year of school we finally moved somewhere that we stayed for 3 whole years. Things started the same way for me in this town as all the rest, nobody wanted to be friends with me so since I had a brother I hung out with him and his friends. Because I hung out with the boys soon the girls in the neighborhood decided I was chasing after their boyfriends and so one day they decided to send a little boy as their messenger to invite me to come up to a little get together that they had planned… His exact words to me where “Terri, those girls up there are paying me a donut to tell you to come up there and they said they are going to kick you’re ass.”
Like I said earlier I never really had a lot of confidence and a fight was not really something I ever had any practice at either but I think something inside of me snapped that day, because I went up there. I soon arrived at the top of the street where about 6 girls and most of the neighborhood kids were waiting for me, I remember being petrified but determined not to show it. Still to this day I can hardly believe I went.
The girls began accusing me of stealing their boyfriends and other things that were not true and I remember telling them, “You all won’t talk to me so I hang out with my brother and his friends, and I don’t want your boyfriends!” I can’t remember a whole lot more of the conversation but what I do remember is that nobody laid a hand on me that day. I acted tough, they acted tough and I walked away with my dignity and a new sense of bravery. The following day I was riding my bike down the street and one of those tough girls called me over and asked me to come to her house and hang out. I did and from that day on we became friends and I became one of them. It felt so good to be a part of a group.
I went on to become a real jerk after that day. It was a time in my life that I figured out that acting tough kept me safe from being picked on. All my years of being a nice person never got me anywhere except shoved around and picked on and now here I was acting like a meany and people “liked” me. Being liked was what I always wanted. I see it now but did not see it then …I still never really fit in and I am not sure if I was really ‘liked’ it was more like I was just left alone because they were scared to pick on me. I still never was that popular girl everyone wanted to hang out with first and I usually was still chosen last for most things.
When I was 17 years old I met my husband who I am still married to and began my life as an adult. Over the years as I grew older I feel as if I did a pretty good job of raising my children but no matter how good I was at something I never ever had that feeling that I fit in or was good enough. I had friends but I stayed on guard never letting anyone get to close. I always seemed to have a feeling of insecurity following me around that I could not shake.
In the early 1990’s I was running a very successful Tupperware business. I had moved up in the company to an Executive manager position, had earned a company car, won many awards and was in the top 10 managers in our region. On the outside life was good but inside I cringed at my success. I did not like being on stage in the spotlight. I really never tried to be successful it just seemed to happen. I loved Tupperware and told people how much I liked it so they bought it, they booked parties and the people at the parties would decide to join me in the business. I remember at the time just being shocked each week at our sales. I would be excited at how well it was going but at the same time I would be scared to death because the more successful my business became the more I had to be on stage at our meeting each week which really made me sick with fear.
You would think that success would have given me more confidence but instead I think what happened is I saw myself standing alongside people who I thought were really good, people who I looked up to and I did not feel worthy at all to be standing alongside of them. Each week I would go on stage with a smile on my face while fear trembled inside of me.
Eventually one day the fear finally caught up to me. I was standing in front of a group of people at one of my Tupperware demonstrations and my ears began to roar. I barely remember anything much after that except for me standing in front of everyone telling them about a product, ears roaring, my heart racing and all the sudden feelings terror inside of me so strong that I wanted to run and hide. Run and Hide is exactly what I did…. I looked at my hostess and said, “I don’t fee so well’ as I excused myself to go into the bathroom where I stayed for the next 30 minutes sitting on the edge of her bathtub trying to pull myself together. I remember thinking I was going to die in there because I could not breathe, I was sweating and my heart was pounding so hard in fear I thought I would have a heart attack. I did not know it at the time but that was my first panic attack of many more to come in my life. I did eventually come out of the bathroom and I told the guests that I had a stomach bug of some sort and went home.
From that day forward I feared being in front of people because I just knew in my mind that it would happen again, the fear snowballed and eventually I quit selling Tupperware and found a job driving a school bus where I did not have to be in the spot light ever.
I spent about the next 15 years of my life staying away from social occasions. My panic filtered into many life things like baby showers, weddings and funerals, I still went to what I had to go to but I spent a lot of time hiding in the bathroom and always sat by the door at most events so I could escape easily if I panicked. It eventually got to where I could not even go with friends shopping unless I was the driver of the car. I had to be the one in control. If I was not in control I would panic and end up making up the ‘I am sick lie’ and leave. Eventually I found myself running out of meetings at work, and avoiding most social occasions It just kept getting worse and worse to the point that I would get an upset stomach so when I said I was sick I truly was physically sick now too. I lived this nightmare alone, I never told anyone except my husband, one friend and also my doctor who diagnosed me with social anxiety and gave me medicine that did not help.
I went on like this for many years and then….I discovered wine…..
I never was much of a drinker but it just so happened one day I connected that drinking helped take the edge off my panic, actually it took a lot of the edge off. When I drank I became a social butterfly. It did not take much just a few sips before I went to the gathering and I would be fine, but the problem was
I never could stop at just a few sips.
When I drank I was bold, I was free and did not care what anyone thought about me. It drowned out a lot of things one being my common sense. What I did not realize at the time is that the drinking did not fix a thing. It just masked things. No matter how I tried to cover it I was still the same person I had always been. I still hurting from all the years of rejection and I was still afraid of people. I had no trust in people or confidence that someone could actually like me for who I was.
It sounds really silly doesn’t it? But that is how I lived for many years. I became a social person I knew lots of people but I just could not attend anything social that I would involve having to sit in a room with other people that would notice me leaving unless I drank or if I did not drink I sat on pins and needles trying hard to keep myself composed. Over the years I was also a Realtor. I know this makes no sense but I could meet with strangers to look at homes and actually had moments that others would probably think I was a very outgoing person. Around the office I was friendly with everyone and even managed to teach a website building class at another real estate office but most of the time if you were to put me in a room for a meeting and I would fall apart in seconds and be running out of the room.
Fast forward to 2010….I found Jesus. You can read about that here http://astorybyme.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/your-gift-2/
Since 2010 I have been learning to trust again. I have found confidence in Jesus. I have gone into meetings and had him take over my fear allowing me to do what he calls me to do. There is so much more I left out of the story on my journey begins page because it is a crazy story and I will tell you some of it is not very pretty, but the outcome thankfully is pretty. I am not bold enough to put it out here on my blog yet but what I can tell you is that many times over these past 4 ½ years I have made a lot of huge mistakes that I was sure God would never forgive me for but he did forgive me and I have learned so much about his redeeming love, his mercy and his grace.
Over this past year I have had a lot of health issues and a lot of instances that I felt sad over my mobility issues I felt afraid sometimes and lonely. As I told in another post I kept my sad feelings to myself and my closest friends the ones I had let ‘in’ seemed to be going away. Let me make it clear that no friends dumped me or anything they just have their own lives going on but because of my past I gradually I began to feel those old feelings of rejection creeping in and my confidence started going down again. that coupled with the pain in my legs just made a recipe of sadness inside. To top that off one day about 6 months ago I found myself running out of a Bible study class having a panic attack. After that first attack and it happened again and again until eventually I quit going to Bible study class. It made no sense at all why I would act this way because I am in a whole church of people who love me and I love that class and wanted to be a part of it really bad. Oddly I only had panic attacks when I was a participant in class, If I was in teaching a class I never would feel that way. It sounds crazy I know….
I actually worry about hitting the send button on this post because it will let anyone who reads it see the real me… it’s really hard for me sometimes to allow people to see the real me. I am not very brave, I am weak, and I am not always right where God would like me to be. I know when I am strong that it is only due to his power.
Today at church our pastor gave a very powerful message about forgiveness. I realized something while he was speaking…I think I have been carrying around feelings of rejection and anger for a very long time. I realized I had put my hope in people when my hope really belongs in Jesus though I do believe that God puts people in our lives to help him and also sometimes they help hold us accountable to him. If not for some of the people he put in my life who obeyed him and were there for me holding me accountable to God I am not sure I would have gotten as far as I am now.
I have a friend who is very humble, this friend was one of my biggest cheerleaders when I was trying to quit drinking. I know that my friend will say that it was all God…My friend will be right because it is all God, I never could do a thing without God’s strength, but I also know that in the beginning, I would have caved so much more easily had I not had a live person to hold me accountable and remind me that God loved me.
I got to thinking today why doesn’t God just wave a magic wand and just fix it all? After all he is God and he can do anything right?? I think He wants us to help him do his work; He wants our loyalty, our faithfulness to him. He wants us to be able to give up our own life plans to do his plan. If we do not take care of what he puts right in front of us we can never be at peace because it’s up to us to show others the HOPE that only he can give… He puts hope right in front of us to give away when he gives us someone who needs him. He is the hope among all the hurting and suffering people and we have a job to do. We pass that hope along and I am so very thankful that someone took the time and helped to show me the hope I have in Jesus.
I started this post talking about my past and how I still get old feelings of rejection inside even when I know in my heart that I am really an okay person. I think that the enemy knows my weaknesses so he gets to me where he knows he can hurt me the most. Thankfully I now know my weaknesses and by knowing that it makes me stronger. I also know I am a child of the King and he loves me and guess what!? NOBODY can ever take that away from me.
Today after the sermon my pastor offered the chance for everyone to give their lives to Jesus. He also offered those who had already given their lives to Jesus a chance to start over again. Today I found all of my past insecurities boiling up to the surface and I found myself forgiving all those past hurts from many years ago, things I never even realized I had been carrying around for 30+ years . I found myself asking once again for God to make me new and told him I wanted to start over and one more time I asked Jesus to be my savior. I am not sure how many times it will take but if I have to start over every single day for the rest of my life 20 times a day then that is what I will have to do.
I know my blog post today is very long and all over the place If you are still here reading you will be happy to know that it is almost over but not before I tell you that your past does not have to define who you are today. You can rise above it. It may try come back once in a while but you can choose not to revisit it. There is no reason to ever look back because you are not going backwards, you are going forward. Remember most of all that you are loved and worth so much more than you can ever imagine.
Thank you for reading,
If you have never asked Jesus to be your savior and would like to have him come and help you change your life, all you have to do is ask. Ask him to forgive you of your past sin and then tell him you would like to
live the rest of your life with him leading you. If you have said that prayer before and need reminding as I did then say it again and again. If you said it for the first time let me know, I would love to hear about it. Also don’t ever forget you are loved and adored by the creator of the universe. That is a pretty awesome feeling isn’t it? <3
Here is a really good song by Francesca Battistelli I think you will enjoy.
He knows My Name