My testimony (warning: TLDR)

Today I’m going to share my story. A lot of you may know my story, but most of you likely have only heard the highlights. The truth is not pretty and very real. I’ve joked a few times that my life could be a soap opera, or a tele nueva if you will. I’ve been listening to and reading some Trent Shelton lately and he’s inspired me to begin this new chapter by sharing my story.

When telling your life story, it’s hard to know where to begin. My life began as a happy accident. My parents found out they were expecting, and got married on February 14, 1986. Exactly 5 months before my debut. Everyday I thank them for choosing me. I grew up Catholic, attended a few Catholic schools and then switched to public schools and lots of CCD (Catholic Education). I went through all the normal Catholic rites, baptism, first communion, and confirmation. I knew Jesus and Mary and all the saints, but kind of took it for granted. When I moved away for undergrad, I stopped attending church. The guy I was dating told me he wanted me to know Jesus, so I dumped him. Thanks, but no thanks. After a scare with the police and being taken to the ER after what was mistakenly taken as a suicidal threat, I was shook. And lost. I was invited to a bible study by my dorm neighbor, and I tried it out mostly to just make some new friends. This became the beginning of my journey to truly find Jesus.

It didn’t happen overnight. I started dating a new guy who had a similar religious upbringing as me. He also didn’t really take it seriously, and we became comfortable with each other. But as I continued going to bible study and joining my new friends at Cru weekly, I started reading and learning more about this Jesus guy. He actually wasn’t all that bad. Spring break of my Sophomore year I attended a retreat in Panama City Beach where for the first time in my life everything came together for me. That week I accepted Jesus as my savior for the first (real) time. As an adult choosing to follow Him. I sent a really long and really hard email to my boyfriend at the time explaining what I had learned and inviting him to join me on my journey. I fully expected him to leave, but instead he signed up to try his best. Despite us growing in our faith together, we had too many holes in our relationship. There was a lack of trust on his end, and he never fully forgave my mother and me for events that occurred in the past. Our relationship was not a healthy one, so I ended it after 2 years and a few months.

Because I had invested and opened up fully to him, it took me just about a year to fully recover from the heart ache that ensued. It also didn’t help that his mother suddenly died about two months after we broke up. Her death threw us back together before either of us were ready. The pain, grief and sorrow surrounding that time in our lives made me just want to be there for him, despite all the unhealthiness that surrounded us. Thankfully, I was able to move on and thought I had finally found a healthy dating relationship about 9 to 10 months later.

I made the mistake of thinking the ex boyfriend and I could be friends. Y’all, this is not always possible and because of this, he grew jealous. A year after we broke up, he basically made fun of the guy I was seeing. Maybe the new guy felt threatened. Maybe he thought I wasn’t over the ex. Whatever it was, he basically told me to go fly a kite. So I went into my next dating relationship out of a mixture of desperation and revenge. I dated my ex’s best friend, and when I broke up with him I destroyed any and all friendship with my ex and his friends. I jumped right into another relationship that felt too soon and too fast. This guy kept pressuring me to have sex, which by the way I hadn’t done yet. I was waiting for marriage, which was reinforced by my relationship with Jesus. Even though at this point, I was falling away from church and reading the bible regularly. That was when Vince came into my life.

We had been acquaintances for about two years, we had met at a job I had in 2007 when I was still with my ex. He posted on Facebook in 2009 that his new company was hiring and I needed a job so I applied. I got the job and he became my boss. It wasn’t long before I was once again single (2009 was the year of the flings, I burned through about 3 or 4 guys within 9 months) and we started flirting. The only issue was, Vince was married. He was married when I had met him and he was still very much married. Actually, his wife worked at the same company as us. Needless to say, at this point in my life I was very far from my relationship with Jesus, and I used every excuse I could think of to accept Vince and tell myself his marriage was over anyways.

Long ass story short, we went to hell and back. He moved in way too soon. I broke my promise to myself and God. A year later he was divorced and we were officially a couple. I fought every sign God was throwing at me to stay with him. We had been dating for almost 3 years when he proposed to me. Since I was hell bent on making us work, I said yes. I really wanted to at least do the right thing, even if I didn’t wait for marriage I really wanted to just have on partner for life. I wanted to be married, have kids, and live happily ever after. We went through pre-marital bible study with our pastor, and Vince lit up for Jesus. It actually gave me hope that perhaps we could get back to faith and grow together with God.

This was, unfortunately, short-lived. It wasn’t long before no matter what church we tried, Vince was just not interested. Shortly after my mom, who was my best friend, passed away, I remember crying in the passenger seat of his car when he flat out told me if I wanted to attend church, I could go alone. Not long after, I discover he’s cheating on me with more than one person. He moves out and files for divorce. Despite me offering to go to couple’s therapy and make it work. Despite me telling him I love him and signed up for the long haul. See, I didn’t believe in divorce. I still don’t. But he didn’t choose me. He chose someone else. Just like he chose me over his first wife, he chose his third wife over me. In the midst of all the pain, I found myself having a panic attack. And after hyperventilating and nearly calling an ambulance, I heard God tell me He had someone better for me. He revealed to me His plan, and yet I still fought it.

It took me a year to get over my first unhealthy dating relationship. This time instead of just working on myself, I made poor choices to find redemption in all the wrong places. I dated around. I found a friend with benefits situation, a guy who would come over most nights just to keep me company. While I finally found my church home while going through my divorce, I still didn’t allow Jesus to be enough. I still wanted more. I still wanted to pave my own path. I “dated” the wrong guy for almost 8 months. I let him be my crutch until I was fed up and left him. And once again, instead of turning my ears and heart towards Jesus, I turned to all the wrong places. I started dating again, and sold myself short. Before I knew it, I was in a situation I never imagined happening.

I was pregnant with someone’s baby who didn’t care about me at all. I was facing the scary and all too real situation of single motherhood. I was scared and alone. I had tried my hardest to create my own life plan, and here I was messing everything up. A beautiful mess. A happy accident. My beautiful and life-changing daughter was born in April 2019. And if you read my last post, you know what happened next. I found myself falling for someone who didn’t love me. I was once again, stubbornly trying to pave my own path. I kept telling myself that he will wake up one day and see how amazing I am.

What I didn’t realize was that I was wasting my time and breath. I was delaying the inevitable. He can’t see me. He doesn’t want to see me. I can’t make anyone love me. I couldn’t make my ex-boyfriend love me in a healthy way. I couldn’t make my ex-husband love me in a health way. I can’t make the father of my baby love me. I had chosen to put myself in unhealthy relationships my entire adult life. I had chosen to be miserable and not listen to what God has for me.

I knew what I had to do. And that’s where I am now. I am making time daily to spend time reading God’s words. I am making time daily to pray and worship. I’m writing so much (this is literally the shortest thing I’ve written in weeks, YIKES!) and setting my eyes and sight towards Him and what He has for me. I am willing to be single for the rest of my life, for the love of God is enough for me. No longer am I looking to these puny humans to fulfill my needs. Instead, I find everything I need in Jesus and my relationship with him.

I’m still writing my testimony. I’m still on the path towards recovery. I’m still writing out and imagining what a healthy dating relationship even looks like. Thanks for reading this, if you made it this far I am forever grateful.

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Wake me up when September ends

The year was 2005. It had just been 2004 and I found myself entering my second semester at UIUC at a loss. I had dumped my boyfriend after Thanksgiving only to find myself falling head over heels for the wrong guy, again. The same guy who had pulled on my heart-strings since I was in High School. A guy who existed mostly in my imagination, which was exactly why it would never work out. I just kept hoping, but the longer I dug my nails in the less I had a hold of things.

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Everything felt like it was spiraling out of control. It was one of those days where I found myself in my dorm, only to be missing my very expensive and needed graphic calculator in order to try my hand at this chemistry assignment. I decided to anxiously walk/run rather than ride my bike on the icy roads. About an hour later I return to my dorm-room to find three police officers standing in the doorway. Instantly, I think what did my room-mate do? But she was perfect, unlike me. And I soon found out they were there for me.

It may be hard to believe, but up until this point in my life I had zero run ins with cops. Like literally never even been pulled over before. To say I was shaking would be an understatement. If I wasn’t already upset, I was in tears by the time they decided to take me to the emergency room. See, they weren’t there to arrest me. Instead, a very concerned friend called them on my behalf. My friend somehow didn’t have my phone number so instead of trying to get a hold of me, called the police.

At first I was mad. But then I realized I needed this wake-up call. I had been blogging some seriously “emo” stuff. And while I wrote it off as song lyrics that I enjoyed, they were all saying the same thing. I was sad, and I felt alone. Really alone. I was borderline anorexic, I would only eat when a friend was with me. I remember due to this, I would skip multiple meals, sometimes for a few days at a time. And I still thought I was fat. The body-image issues were out of control. And I felt like I was just crawling around campus hoping to find where I belonged. I went from a high school of about 2,000 students to a campus of about 40,000 students. I was literally lost among a sea full of people. I regretted my decision to attend one of the largest universities and felt like it was going to be the longest four years of my life.

It took awhile, but I ended up thankful that I spent hours that night and morning in the ER. I had to convince my mom and dad to not drive down to see me, and that I was totally okay. This was a turning point in my life. After a prescribed meeting with a therapist, I was already feeling better. A few girls in my dorm invited me to hang out with them. It ended up being a bible study, but that’s exactly what I needed: a small group of friends to feel like I belonged. I also, miraculously, started having a crush on a class-mate’s friend. Just when I thought I would never get over Mr. never-ending crush, I found myself chasing a cute engineer. And you know the rest, I ended the semester not wanting to go home, started the dating dare, and found Jesus. Right?

Not quite. My finding Jesus journey was just beginning. But you can’t climb to the peak if you don’t walk through the valley first. And this was one of those valleys I had to go through to learn that I couldn’t do life alone. This was the year I learned that if I rely solely on myself, I will fall short. I also learned that people care, and to give out my phone number to my friends more often.

 

The beginning of the end

The year was 2016. Everything in my life was changing, and not in a good way. My Dad was engaged and about to marry a raging alcoholic. I was still grieving the recent loss of my mother and there were few things that felt solid in my life: my marriage and my therapist were the top two. Kung Fu helped me vent, as well. But all through everything else falling apart, I felt like I could count on my husband and my therapist.

Even when my husband was frustrated over my grieving and stress about my Dad, I still felt like we were solid. Even when he spent more and more time away from home, I just wrote it off as his way of dealing with things. I felt like my stress may have been overflowing onto him, so tried my best to give him everything he needed, including many “massages” and other activities where he didn’t invite me to. It felt like I had blinders on until he blew up at me. What seemed like overnight, he started sleeping on the couch and stopped talking to me. All the love and warmth was sucked out of the room when we were home. My world was officially falling apart, not just everywhere else but also at home.

And the only solid thing I could cling onto was my therapist. And God. I started praying daily from the first day I felt a rift in my marriage, which was about two months before my husband left the house. I prayed for someone to go to church with me, since it was pretty clear my husband wasn’t going to go anymore. I prayed not just for someone to invite me but for me to find a community where I belonged. And God answered my prayers.

My co-worker Elizabeth who I didn’t know very well invited me to her church. I could tell she was nervous to ask me, but I couldn’t say no. Especially since it was exactly what I needed, at the right time. I started attending Free Church right after my husband left the house. Right around that time, I finally realized just how many lies my husband had told me. It spiraled out of control and I ended up in the middle of a panic attack late at night. It felt like the entire house was spinning all around me and my life was falling apart. I started hyperventilating and felt dizzy. I considered driving myself to the ER or calling 911 if I didn’t move in the next few moments.

As tears started rolling down my face, I started talking to God. I couldn’t say anything other than I’m sorry. I apologized, over and over again, because here I was losing my shit over a person. A human being. A shitty, awful one but at the end of the day just a creature. And in the midst of all my tears and apologies, I heard God tell me “It’s ok, I have someone better for you.” And all of a sudden, I’m calm. My tears dry up, and I feel a sense of warmth and relief. And I fall asleep.

That was the beginning of the end of my marriage. But that was also the year I learned that just because one thing ends doesn’t mean that everything is over. Actually, it usually means a new, different opportunity will present itself. And in the end, as long as you trust in God, he will take you where you’re supposed to go.