Okay, by now it is known that I am 35…And I get my degree in Econometrics after Winter term. Yes, I am finally going to grow up.
That being said…I am so over school now! Here I am, at the very end of school, and I am feeling lackadaisical about the whole thing. It is like I am still stuck in the belief that there is no future, stuck in catastrophic thoughts…And then I remind myself that there is a woman across the world somewhere that would womp me on the head at my whining. Heck, I need only look at my old neighborhood to realize that not everyone is able to escape structural poverty..
Everytime I think I have it bad, I have to remind myself that there is someone out there who would die to suffer my “first world problems”.
I remember going through life, afraid, living under the fear my mother instilled in me on the evil’s of the world and how my future family was going to be murdered in front of me if I admitted I believed in Jesus. Yep, she was that religious person that frightened her children into Christianity. I never wanted to marry and have children because I was afraid that “they” would chop off my husband’s and children’s heads for being Christian. She would pray with “sister Rita” from church for hours about the redemption of us kids and the end of the world. I lived in fear for the days when Jesus’ rapture would happen and I was left behind and I could not eat because of “the mark of the beast”. Everyday.
She would go on about how we could potentially be tortured in Hell if we rejected God to the authorities, that we should accept persecution instead. Her eyes would be bright with zeal as she described how my future children and husband would be screaming in agony as they questioned me about God, “Remember, a second of pain for an eternity in heaven.” Remnants of our home church meetings resonated in my mind and caused me to live my formative years in a constant state of fear.
In my mind, it was important that I be as educated as I could be, even living in the barrio. I have future posts about all of that. Trust me, there is a lot. Anyway, despite living with this fear of a tragic, frightening future, I somehow thrived in school. I had no problems, with reading, writing, or arithmetic. I have no idea how, with the belief that I was going to die a tortured death anyway, I was able to do so well in school.
At one point during my second year of college, I had the highest grade in a Chemistry class of hundreds of students. I was invited to a fancy banquet where a man who worked with the government was to give a speech. His speech frightened me as he seemed to look right at me while I was eating banquet-style lasagna. He mentioned that fiber optics were going to carry everyone’s information on their person one day…And I became afraid again. In the right hand or in the forehead, my mother once said.
While all of this anxiety was happening, in a constant state of fear for the inevitable arrival of the beast and being tortured to death, I had made a resolve to never get too close to a man. I figured if I could avoid a personal relationship, I had no emotional stake if I was to be tortured by the government’s infliction of pain if I had to be questioned about God. I had gained a significant amount of weight throughout the years due to the fear and anxiety for the inevitable dreaded future. I was overweight and, although still technically a level 5 in the attractiveness scale, I knew no boy would really date me that was looking for a “complete” girl. I wanted no vulnerabilities. I was going to avoid having children, too. Remember, my mom would graphically tell me about how they were going to be tortured.
After I had graduated with my associate’s degree, I was in an awkward state of transition. I had no job, yet I had not applied to a university to finish the last two years of school. I felt absolutely listless. I started watching television like no one’s business. The news started featuring grim articles about children being kidnapped and how a parent had “chipped” her children to keep tabs on them in case of kidnap. That news feature, and overthinking the stressful future, made me lose it. At one point, I started ripping out my hair and I had a breakdown in front of my mom. I think it was at that point my mom realized that the fear she instilled in me caused me to break. I went to an job interview the next day and got the job. I did not go to a four year university. I had no idea what I wanted to get a degree in anyway.
Now, thirteen years after my breakdown, I am married and finally graduating with honors with my BS in Economics this coming Winter. Here is how I got there.
Four years ago, I lost my mother to complications from her multiple sclerosis. Two months later, I lost my twin sister, my other half. I suffered depression due to those two deaths…But I also had an epiphany. If I could survive those two deaths, I could survive anything.
Ten years ago, despite being fat, defensive, dramatic, and paranoid, a man entered my life who was not quite complete, either. For the first time in my life, me and another human had connected and I realized that we were so connected and complete as a unit, we could face ANY future together. Tim, my husband, helped me through those deaths. A lot. He also helped me.
During my worst rages, during my highest binges, during illness, mental breakdowns, and my own self-conscience moments, he loved me. He still loves me. He supported me going back to school. He took care of my sister’s kids and me when I was depressed and we had the kids with us after my twin’s death. He is so strong. All he knows, he once told me, is that he loves me. I may not look like a model, Kim Kardashian (who I neither consider talented or a celebrity), or Angelina Jolie, but I am treated like I am the Empress of the Universe. Tim tells me he sees a confident, strong woman when he looks at me.
Did I mention I was fat? Like, really fat. The bingeing, dieting, and fad diets did their work on me, let me tell you! Despite all of this, Tim tells me I am his beautiful lady. When I see myself, I see a close to 350 pound, half Native American woman recovering from echoes of her mother’s religious zeal.
Tim tells me that he sees things better because he is an artist.
Tim believes in me, and I started believing in me, too. I am now resolved to not live in fear. I know that God is truly a kind God because he blessed me with someone like Tim in my life…Not to mention my dad, brother, sisters, and my awesome nieces and nephews. The future, as far as God is concerned, is written by God. I should only enjoy my life and trust Him…Even if something DOES happen, He would not want me to live in fear, anxiety, and depression. That is what the Devil thrives on.
My whole goal in keeping a record of my thoughts is for therapeutic reasons. It seems that writing all of this down, putting the words to it, really CAN help me BECOME the lady that Tim sees. Eight years married, and I love him more today than I did when we met.
I forgive my mother for instilling fear into me. A child is vulnerable to authority figures when young and are quite impressionable. I forget that mom was not God and is, in fact, human. I had to find God for myself in all the wonderful things he has done for me. He gave me Tim, he gave me intelligence so that I may think critically at what living in fear has done to me. He gave me my beautiful twin, who forever lives in my heart despite no longer being in this plane, and finally, he has given me the heart to forgive my mother for how her teachings affected my mental and emotional health as I was growing up.
Writing this post caused a lot of tears and self-reflection as I finally put some of the pieces as to why I had lived in a fog of listlessness, and emotional apathy. I finally know the answer and it is…Liberating. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this clarity, love, and understanding.