Today, on the way home from church, my husband said something to me that made my week. He looked at me and said, “I can see that you are almost back to being yourself.”
I guess I should say more about that.
When I was in college, I was as active as humanly possible. I was president of the student senate, I was vice president of my sorority, I was a little sister to a fraternity, I tried to join every club I could, and I tried to meet as many people as possible. I was loud. I was commanding. I was crazy. I loved every, single, beautiful moment.
My junior year of college I met a boy. The first year we dated was lovely. However, by year two, everything started to crumble. The boy became controlling, emotionally abusive, and downright mean. I was ignorant, and I thought that if I married that boy he would change. So when I was 22, I got married. As you can guess – things went from bad to terrible. The boy became worse and worse.
Before I started dating my now ex-husband, I started out as a bright shiny orange sculpture. Gradually, I was painted over with colors that dulled me. My ex did not like that I was active, so he dulled the orange with some bland yellow. Then, he didn’t like my friends – so he put some green over the yellow. Then, he didn’t like my hair, my clothing, how I spent money, my cooking, my cleaning, my family, my love of baking, my religious beliefs… so layer by layer paint got added on until I was the dullest tan you could ever imagine. I wasn’t allowed to cook what I wanted, bake what I wanted, see my family, talk to my friends, or attend church. I was finally palatable to my ex, but I felt dead on the inside.
They say that when you have post-traumatic stress disorder you do not just shut down the tough emotions (like fear, anger, or sadness). In order to cope with traumatic events, you shut down everything. I did that too. In order to cope with being in an abusive marriage, I shut down everything. I no longer felt fear when I was yelled at. I could not cope with the sadness of not being able to do the things I loved, so I even shut out my grief. My fear was gone, but so was my happiness, my joy, my light.
After years of hoping things would getting better, and seeing them gradually get worse – I decided that I either had to die or I had to leave. I decided to leave. I asked my ex-husband for a divorce, and we parted ways (I’ll write more about that whenever I am ready).
Everyone experiences or feels the love of God differently. Some people feel God’s love when they walk through nature. Some feel God’s love when they sing. I, however, see the love of God when I am by people. I see the love of God the most when I get to interact with children at church.
Children are the best thing in the world. In particular, I think toddlers are the most amazing miracles ever created. They are amazing, because they are all bright, and shiny, and orange. They scream when they want something. They cry when they have to. They are not afraid to be exactly who God intended them to be. My favorite children (although I probably shouldn’t admit this) are the ones that are super crazy. They won’t sit still, they run around like crazy, they dance, they sing…. They know they are perfect – because God made them that way. Every time I teach Sunday school, I try to soak up a bit of the perfection.
Two years ago I started baking again. I started with simple cookies, and now I’ve worked my way up to expensive cakes (eek!).
A year ago I started teaching Sunday school. I am active in my church, I get to read my Bible whenever I want, and I am growing in my faith.
Now, I get to talk to my new friends and my old friends as often as I want. They love me as I am, and they support who I am trying to become.
Now, I get to talk to my mother whenever I want. I love hearing her voice. She makes me feel calm.
Now, I get to be exactly the way that God intended me to be.
I still feel like I am covered in a few layers of paint. Yet, each month, I shed a layer…
I am now happily married to a wonderful man named Del. He is, quite possibly, the best husband in the entire universe. My identity is not centered on my husband; however, with my husband’s love and support I am learning to let myself be the woman God created me to be. Sometimes I am saddened by the fact that I am not the same person I use to be. I miss the days when I was brave enough to talk to any stranger, and the days where I could command a room. Some days I cry because I feel like I missed out on years of my life, buried under a terrible marriage. I can either choose to wallow in pity, or I can move on and be happy that I am here – and that God has given me a second chance. I choose to take the second chance.
With this second chance, I choose to peel away all of the layers. Surrounded by great friends, the love of my mother, some chocolate cake, an amazing husband, the grace of God, and some bright orange children – I know that I am on the right path.