Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Sage and The Stork

My “story” is not very different from those of others. I’ve experienced happiness, heartache, and pain throughout my life. Fortunately, I’ve had more happy times and fond memories throughout my 38 years.

I am an only child and have been fortunate to have a large, loving family around me my entire life. My childhood prior to 11 was pretty typical, aside from the fact that my parents always argued in front of me. My father was more of a “buddy” than a father figure, leaving all of the discipline to my mother. My parents divorced when I was 11, the summer before I started sixth grade. My life changed forever at that point.

After the divorce I would see my father occasionally, and I remember him living at a different place at each visit – always living with a friend or girlfriend. When I was in eighth grade, I began asking my mother more and more questions about the divorce and my father. I believe at this time my eyes were merely beginning to open to the situation before me. I came to learn that my father was verbally abusive to my mother from early-on in their marriage constantly belittling and yelling at her. Until this point, my mother never talked negatively about my father to me. The more I learned of his affairs, drug usage, and abuse, the more troubled I became. Shortly after I learned of the “truth” of his behaviors, he called me on my 13th birthday. I told him that I never wanted to speak to him again. These were literally my last words to him.

You can imagine that middle school was quite difficult for me. Not only was I an emotional wreck, but I was an “early developer”. Unfortunately as I developed my figure early, my body also reacted to the hormone surges and I was overweight. I was teased quite a bit by others, primarily girls, which only compounded my emotional issues. I began getting involved in sports in the seventh grade, which helped me to slowly lose weight; however, I was not able to ever be as thin as I wanted to be. It took me years to realize that I will never be a size 6, merely due to the fact that I have a large frame.

I have always been a very outgoing, friendly personality, and for this reason, I have always had a lot of friends. Most of my friends were always older than me in high school. I attribute this to the fact that I was more mature than most people my age because of my experiences. I did not date much in high school because of two reasons: 1) I was consumed by sports, which took up the majority of my free time 2) I saw how all of my male friends talked about the girls they dated and slept with – which was rarely positive. So, as I got further along in high school, my closest friends kept graduating, which ultimately left me alone my senior year.

My first serious boyfriend was my senior year of high school, when I was 17. The boy was the cousin of one of my closest childhood friends. The relationship was a textbook case of codependency for both of us, which was interesting given that fact that he was in college and lived an hour away from me. Despite living in a separate town, we spent every weekend together and often saw each other during the week as well. A month into the relationship he told me that he suffered from bi-polar disorder. At the time I had a vague understanding of mental illness, but soon learned that I was going to get a crash-course in dealing with the disease directly. Our relationship was very intense for several months, but ended at the end of my senior year right before my senior prom. I learned recently that he came out of the closet in the last few years, after he divorced he wife.

In college, I dated often and truly came out of my “shell”. I chose to go to a top-rated private liberal arts university that was known for the diverse nature of its student body. My grades were less than stellar my first year as, like others, I partied too much. I joined a sorority (which I am still actively involved in at the alumni level) my sophomore year and held numerous offices in the three years of membership.

My exposure to the world and others heightened in college, as I learned of other cultures, religions, etc. This is when I became very liberal in my stance on social issues such as gay rights, pro choice and other controversial social issues. Never once, however, did I lose my belief in Christianity. I just believe that I became more tolerant, sympathetic, understanding and a less judgmental individual. These are values that I will hold for the rest of my life.

My last semester of college was quite difficult for me. My grandmother, a dear friend, passed away suddenly three months prior to graduation. Her death shattered me to the core. In middle school and high school, I would spend significant time with her and my grandfather during the summers while my mother attended graduate school or worked. My grandmother became one of the few people I would turn to about my troubles regarding my father. She was an amazing woman, and even 16 years later, I still think of and miss her almost daily.

The months succeeding her death were very difficult for me. I fell further and further into a depressive state. Shortly after graduation, I began seeing a psychiatrist in search of treatment for the depression. After just a few weeks of treatment, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and began a combination of treatment with medication and twice a week counseling sessions. After a year of treatment, we finally were able to begin addressing my pain and resentment toward my father and how it affected every relationship with a man that I had ever attempted to have. Psychiatric treatment was the most difficult thing I have ever experienced in my life because it was a sort of “death and rebirth” process. I have been under psychiatric care or monitoring for over 15 years now.

Needless to say, my time in therapy was very confusing at many points. I actually experienced some of my most self-destructive behavior during those first five years. I was quite promiscuous, used drugs and often kept friends at an arm’s length distance. Finally, a breakthrough occurred when I was 26 and everything began turning around for me. Within a year of my turnaround, I met my husband. I know now that we were meant to meet at the exact moment we did, which is why my turnaround happened when it did.

We have been married for over ten years now, and have experienced many trials during that period. The largest test of our marriage and of my sanity in the ten years has been infertility on my part. After numerous years of extensive infertility treatment and surgeries, we learned in 2007 that I would never be able to conceive a child. During the years of treatment, I battled with my depression off and on, despite still being under treatment for the disease.

In late 2007, we received a telephone call about an unborn little girl needing an adoptive family. We dove into the adoption process hearts first, and let our heads never fall from the sky. After three months of doctor visits with the birthmother, planning a nursery and getting ready for the delivery, the birthmother vanished. I learned of the birthmother’s change of mind when her doctor told me that she was no longer interested in putting the child up for adoption. We never received word from the birthmother, nor did the attorney that we were working with. We – especially me – were devastated. I slipped into a deep depressive state, starting drinking a lot, having affairs and doing everything I could to escape the pain. The months afterward I began looking for jobs out of state and also told my husband I wanted to leave him many times. I had officially hit rock-bottom by the end of the year.

I began therapy on a more intensive level again in 2008 after the adoption fell through. It was helping me some, but I was never quite able to move forward. My psychiatrist changed my medication again, and we started to finally see improvement. In early 2009, I was still trying to figure out where my life and marriage were going. The pain of not having a child had consumed me to a point that I didn’t know what to do with my life, except for dive into my career. All I could do was ask for a sign from God or whom/whatever on what I was supposed to with my life. Within weeks of essentially throwing my arms in the air in “giving up”, we received a call to adopt an unborn boy.

My husband and I discussed for hours the possibility of adoption and the state of our marriage, and if adoption was even a decision we needed to make at that point. In the end, we decided to pursue the adoption. The boy was born five weeks after we received the call, and the adoption was finalized with no difficulties in the summer of 2009. I can admit that this child has essentially saved my life, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. We love him as if he were biologically our own, and our marriage has never been better.

I thank God every day of my life for my husband, my son, and most importantly, all of my experiences. My experiences, whether they were happy or sad, have made me the amazing individual that I am today – and I am THANKFUL for them all.

be thankful for the experience

1 comment:

Teffanie said...

Fabulous 'tell'. Thanks for sharing.