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My Silent Testimony

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I was a generally happy teen. I was overweight in my parents’ eyes, and I struggled with that, but I could compartmentalize that when I was still younger. Being homeschooled, I didn’t have a ton of pressure to be pretty, so I mostly just agonized for the time it took me to brush my teeth, then went on my way. But something was brewing.
I was an odd person. I wouldn’t dress in front of pictures, couldn’t stand being around mirrors in the dark, and I sincerely believed that my parents had hidden cameras around the house to catch me misbehaving.
I could mostly avoid mirrors and putting up pictures in my bedroom, and I conformed to my parents rules almost perfectly. (My room was a disaster and I didn’t practice piano enough, but I could handle those arguments.)
As I got older, the superstitions I held got more numerous. I had to chew my food on both sides of my mouth, or I’d get cavities on the side I chewed on more. If I didn’t keep my feet covered by a blanket, a monster would drag me from my bed at night. (Sleepwalking certainly didn’t help with that fear. I’d wake up in weird places.) I couldn’t stop spelling everything in my head as I talked if we were in the car. I thought that thinking about specific evil entities could make them real.
The harder I tried to avoid these thoughts, the more forceful they became. By my late teens, I would watch scary movies, with no idea why I was doing it. I would eat even numbers of cereal because I could keep the amount of food even on both sides of my mouth. I started spelling the punctuation in what I was saying, which forced me to speak slower because sometimes I’d spell aloud and get a weird look from my mother or friend. I was eccentric, to say the least.
I discovered psychology in high school, and I knew better than to diagnose myself, because it didn’t interfere with daily life. I clung to religion. I needed a high that was better than the relief of giving in to my eccentricities.
During that time, I was chasing after the Lord with such force, that I was intolerant of people who didn’t believe exactly like I did. Debating his existence, however fruitlessly, made me feel giddy. I think I actually pushed one guy further from the Lord, and I hate that.
But it was that guy who lead me to where I am right now. He was the tool in God’s belt that made me who I am. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be engaged to this wonderful man I’m smitten with. I wouldn’t have met the guy who introduced me to the show that pushed me over the edge from eccentric to full-blown-crazy. I wouldn’t have moved to where I am now, an outsider in a tiny town.
I have this little voice of peace. It whispers into my heart and mind, and even in the midst of my worst days, I don’t lose hope.
You see, last year, I lost so much. It all started with my best friend spending two weeks in the psych ward at a local hospital. Her meds had screwed her up so badly she was suicidal. Her ex had made sure she was hurting as badly as possible when she left him. She was his late night play toy, and she went back because she felt completely lost on her own.
I was scared out of my mind. In God’s great mercy, she had had the presence of mind to check into the emergency room instead of making an attempt. But what would happen if next time she didn’t? I needed to take care of her. I spent 3 out of 5 weekends at her place. I tried to keep up with some of the cleaning so she wouldn’t be so stressed out. She was better, but I was still terrified. When she asked me to move with her, I didn’t think twice about agreeing.
I worked on plans for a few weeks, then my father cornered me. I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. He basically told me that if I left I was nothing to him anymore. I thought long and hard about it, and with each interjection on his part, I felt more certain that I needed to leave. I could survive bullying online, but living in the same house with one was different.
The last straw came when I found out that, not only did my mother let him in on my plans before I was prepared to share them with him, but she was egging him on. I stayed with my friend for a week, then came back for a couple days. Those days were as close to hell as I hope to ever get. I packed my stuff, called my friend, and I was out. I felt more lonely on that day than I ever had. That day, my anxiety became crippling. I got under the bed to grab stuff from it, and all of a sudden I was dizzy with claustrophobia. I couldn’t move, I was so scared. Most nights I woke screaming from nightmares. I couldn’t be around a mirror in the daytime, lest this evil I saw in my reflection at night come alive in the day. I couldn’t close the door to the bathroom for fear it’d lock on me, and I wouldn’t be able to get out. Car rides became death traps. Church became the hub of whispers, where people were lead to believe that I was whatever my parents said about me.
In the midst of my time away from church, that peace voice began to whisper. I could feel it in the quiet moments mostly. The times where I felt safe. The moments after a panic attack when relief flooded into my mind and my body registered nothing but exhaustion. The seconds after I woke up for the day. It got stronger, until it whispered in every moment except the moments of my sin.
It stopped talking when I had an angel at 10 weeks. For months, it was silent. I kept quiet, too. It was one thing to ask for condoms from my friend, and quite another to find that you’d wished a baby away. I wondered what I’d done wrong. I shouldn’t have eaten sandwich meat, I should have taken vitamins, I should have told someone about it instead of just hoping it’d go away. There is no deeper sorrow than the loss of a child, even if it’s inconvenient. There is no darker depression than that of failed motherhood.
When I finally told my fiance, he didn’t believe me. Sure, he’d joked I was pregnant for a time, but he hadn’t believed it was true. He hadn’t thought it could happen to us. It was invisible. My broken heart was invisible.
Mothers day came this year and I cried my eyes out. My baby would have been about a month old. I cried out to Jesus. I’m still not sure what exactly I wanted, but I couldn’t stop pouring my hurt out to him. It would be a while longer before I’d see his healing power. I wandered in my own private desert for a while.
It’s been a month since I resigned from my job after multiple panic attacks and many tears cried over fears that weren’t realized. It’s been a month of mixed feelings, pain and hope.
I know I am weak. But that still small voice is back now. It tells me that where I am weak, my God is strong.
I’m trying to smooth things over with my parents. I’m trying to do right by my sin and marry the lovely man I am with. We don’t sleep together anymore. We’ve decided to wait until marriage. The wedding will be later this year.
My friend moved without me. I’m living in a tiny town with friends of my fiance. His house is ten minutes from theirs by foot.
Car rides don’t bother me as much. That little voice of peace makes me brave. I can look at myself in the mirror in the daytime. I go to church, even knowing the gossip that goes on there. I stay connected with my friends, even knowing that they’re about to fly away into the territory of careers and marriage and (Lord willing) parenthood. My impulses are less dominant. I’m listening intently to that still small voice. I’m not sure I’ll ever catch up to my peers in terms of adulthood. I’m still on a cycle of anxiety and calm. Sometimes, I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I do know that I’m safely resting in the hands of Jesus. And even if my own mind tries to betray me, I’ll listen to His voice. He won’t lead me wrong. The path may be difficult, but it won’t be impossible. And I’m well on my way to fixing this mess I made of my life.

July 27, 2016 at 12:20
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