I realized that for a good portion of my life, I have been attempting to fill in the gaps with meaningless trifles. Like the writer of Ecclesiastes laments "all is meaningless under the sun". It has taken several years and ton of tears to get to this point. The old analogy of the God shaped hole in all of us is true, however, for me it was a bunch of gaps that longed for the rejuvenating waters of Christ to fill. I was missing entire parts of me in my search for meaning.
My gaps started in childhood. I was raised by two very sweet people who provided me with a great upper middleclass upbringing. We had the country club membership, the condo in Cancun, the vacations to Vail, and the rest of the trappings of the American dream. They did their best, and I am grateful. The thing is, even when a life or family appears perfect from the outside, there are always issues under the surface. In our case it was a poor choice of a caregiver, a lecherous grandfather who I both loved and despised. Feelings of insecurity, worthlessness, guilt, and self loathing developed during the years he was in contact with me.
In high school, I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. It was my mountain top experience. I gave Him my heart but I kept the trauma of my past wadded up in a corner of my heart. It made me unlovable. It was so much easier to keep it tucked away in the crevices of soul than to deal with it. It became a festering wound just beneath the surface that I covered with good works so no one would notice. I assumed that perfection in the classroom and high test scores would make up for the lump of shame I felt. I was wrong. I stuffed the pain of perfection into my gaps. I graduated with pretty decent GPA(not the straight As I stressed about) and enrolled in college.
My parents had been members of the Greek system when they were in school, and I followed in their foot steps. When I was not accepted in my mom's house, my parents were devastated. Obviously, there was something wrong with me if I couldn't make the cut (that is what my mind kept telling me). I joined a different house full of wonderful girls and good times. Unfortunately, a lot of those times involved alcohol. I developed a new philosophy. I was going to stop striving to please and enjoy myself. The people who allowed themselves to cut loose sure seemed to enjoy life a lot more than I did. I did a complete 180 and started drinking, smoking, and using drugs. It took me years to figure out that I couldn't handle my liquor. It didn't just numb the pain, it blocked it out completely. I had so many black out episodes that one whole semester is lost, a complete blank. I really preferred weed. A nice mellow high that never caused black outs. But there was always the next day and never a lasting solution to the problem that was my life.
One summer, I was at a kegger at a friend's house behaved in such a way even I was stunned. Of course, I told her that I didn't remember any of it, but that was a lie. The one time I really needed to black out, I couldn't. I prayed that God would deliver me from this constant need to be drunk so I wouldn't keep making such an ass of myself. I prayed for greater faith so life would be easier. Great faith would make the tough times more palatable. And I prayed that my unwanted desire for the wrong kind of relationship would be taken from me so I wouldn't be such a freak. These were all good prayers in my mind, but they were all prayed from a place of selfishness, not prayers to gratify the Holy Spirit. I never surrendered all of me to my God, and yet I couldn't understand why he wouldn't answer.
After that night with my friend, when I felt completely humiliated and rejected, I attempted a twelve step program in Norman. It was so not my scene. I never went back. I told myself I could handle it and that I just needed to find a man. That would take care of the unsavory desires and hopefully the drinking.
I met a man who was a few years older than me and not that into partying. He had a past that was even more extensive than mine in the drug world, but he also had a great amount of faith. we were married and started our lives together. I found out quickly that my past hang ups didn't disappear with the wedding vows. I hated sex and the anxiety it caused me. Intimacy with your husband during the newlywed stage of life is supposed to be fantastic and fulfilling, it wasn't. I felt quite a bit of guilt that my husband was missing out on what he though was going to me daily occurrences. And he had brought a lot of baggage into the marriage as well.
We started having kids, and that was the best and worst time for me. I had successfully alienated all my high school friends when I started drinking, and my stoner buddies were completely unreliable. I was a stay at home mom, with no friends, one English speaking neighbor, and no T.V. I was striving for perfection again and came up short in every way. I tried to do everything and accomplished nothing. I was exhausted, angry, and overwhelmed every day. After my third child was born, I took a bunch of pills and drank some sort of nasty liquor and wrote my husband a note. I figured that he could easily find someone to replace me and the kids were so cute, someone would want to take care of them when I was gone.
When I got out of the hospital after the incident, I promised that would never attempt that kind of thing again, next time I would be successful. The sad and dejected looks I got from friends and family made me feel even worse.
Eventually, we moved out our small crappy house into a slightly larger crappy house in a better school district. Our fourth child was born and I got myself involved with as much as I could handle. PTA, cub scout leader, girl scout leader, bible study facilitator at church, and a thousand other tasks that seemed to matter. I was attempting to fill my gaps with busyness. I was tired, broke, and rundown. I let my feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness take over. I was never worthy, no matter how hard I tried.
Several years of ups and downs ensued. We finally made some friends and were invited to a party. My old friend, inebriation welcomed me back with open arms. I didn't get drunk all the time just the occasional binge on weekends. At first when I resumed my party girl persona, I was satisfied with once a year then every six months, then a monthly girl's night out. I was circling the drain and I didn't realize it.
I developed two pretty good friends during this time that actually seemed to like me and my bizarre personality., the problem was my husband didn't like it when I spent time with them. When we were first married, he made me choose between a friend and him. He was threatening the same thing again. I realized that he had always been so possessive and domineering, and, at times, abusive. was determined to make these friendships last. As I grew closer to my new friends I grew farther apart from my man. And I was okay with it. Our relationship has gotten rocky and I was fed up with his selfishness.
The year from hell occurred shortly after that. We went from just a mortgage payment and money in the bank to two car payments, tax payments, tuition payments, and more expenses than we could afford in a very short period of time. Our account was in NSF status more times than not. The tension rose and my husband went from smoldering anger to hot lashes from his tongue for no apparent reason. His anger permeated the house and shook the family to the core.
Then the people from my life started dying. First, a dad of an old friend, then a cousin, then the lady that I took care of. That was very hard, probably the roughest loss I had ever felt. I had often prayed that God would get me a better job because she was so mean sometimes, but he spoke into my heart and told me that I was where I needed to be. I grew to love her. When I lost her, I didn't just lose my job, I lost my friend, and my reason for being. My purpose was to care for her and she was gone. I threw myself into caring for her adult children and husband during that time. I tried to make everything in their lives as good as possible to ease their suffering, but I never allowed myself a chance to grieve. Then a friend from high school passed away unexpectedly and another dad from my youth.
I started my new job at her husband's office. I went in with big expectations of the job I would be doing and the new skill set I would be learning. I was quickly disappointed. Apparently, the women of the office thought that I gained my position on my back. I could over hear conversations about me if I tried. At first they were nice, but then the cattiness of the office took over. the worst was when I found an email circulating about me and the terrible job I was doing. I wished that correction had been offered before the gossip started. I was unwanted, unneeded, and completely superfluous to operations of the office.
My man and I were having major issues by this time. One Friday in September, I went out with one of my new friends and she was distraught. I invited her over so my husband could see that we weren't out skanking around and that he had nothing to worry about. The attempt to appease him back fired. He got so angry with over absolutely nothing that he refused to talk to me much less touch me for a month. No hugs or kisses or any other sign of affection.
The middle of October rolled around and he was still giving me the silent treatment when I had the worst day of life at the office. I figured that he would listen to me on a day when I was so distraught, I was wrong. His answer to my need was a vicious, vile tongue lashing about the weakness of my sex and woman in general. I was devastated. The evening when he was yelling at me, he started in on our daughter as well. Her anger at him has yet to wane.
Five days later I decided to leave him. I set up an online savings account that he didn't know about and planned my departure.
I went from money in the bank, a job I liked most of the time, and almost functioning family at the beginning year; to a mountain of debt, a marriage in shambles, a job that I hated, and a family that I never saw. Too much loss, too little money, and too much strife combined to make me absolutely miserable. I filled the gaps with food, alcohol, and anger. I was lost and out of control and no one noticed or cared.
My friend and I decided to have another girl's night. I was a wreck. I just wanted a calm night with wine where we chill and talk, but she wanted a big night on the town. She was buying so I was drinking. I remember puking in the bathroom and a scary ride home from her fifteen year old son, but the rest is a blur. I did have a sense of foreboding that something was wrong when I texted het an apology for my behavior and got a simple U R Good. I didn't believe it.
Two days later, she sent me a text that she didn't feel comfortable around me anymore and she no longer wanted to hang out with me. My world was rocked. The one thing I had in my life was my friends, she cast me aside like garbage and the other friend quickly followed suit. I was the odd man out in so many ways. I had no recollection of what I had done to deserve that reaction. I knew it must have been bad. My mind slipped back to the night at the keg party with my old high school friend. I was nauseous with guilt. I lost eight pounds in a month after her text.
I had lost everything that I loved in less than a year I just couldn't cope anymore. While I was searching for a file at my bosses office, I found a .38 Smith & Wesson in his drawer. It was the answer I had been looking for. I planned my ultimate escape. I was too gruesome, loathsome, and disgusting to live. I would shoot myself through the heart so my family could hold an open casket funeral if they wanted. I knew the date, the time, and the place: I was completely committed to my decision.
I left my Sunday school teaching materials at church that Sunday and walked out the door knowing I would not need them in the future. I went home that afternoon and prepared everything for the next day and then I received a text I never thought I would see. An old friend that I hadn't seen much in recent years wanted to get a coffee. I told her no. Amazingly, she texted back that she really wanted to catch up. The hand of God was on my friend that day, she didn't take no for an answer, she persisted in spite of my rejection of her. We went out for coffee and talked. We reviewed the mundane and the ordinary of our lives that really create the greatest memories. Over the course of that conversation, God changed my heart. I couldn't kill myself after coffee with a friend, she might feel guilty.
I went out the next evening under the guise of Christmas shopping, not to die but to cry. I bawled in the parking lot of the Walmart, parked at the outer edge away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday shoppers. My own private breakdown in the middle of the crush of the holiday. It was too dark and too cold for anyone to care what was going on inside my minivan. Looking back, I wish someone could have seen the beautiful transformation that took place in my heart that evening.
I gave everything to God that day. The crumpled, traumatized child that I hid from everyone, the drunken party girl persona, the unnatural desires of the flesh that had plagued me since childhood, everything. I held nothing back. I experienced a complete turn around of my spirit. The three prayers I prayed for years finally came true. Because this time when I prayed, I prayed for God's will in my life. Whatever he had in store for me was fine, I didn't care. I had screwed up everything and I gave him the burden of all my sin. I was completely redeemed. I had the weight of the Holy Spirit on my shoulders and I thought I could fly, he was so light. I was free from the burdens that had shackled me to self loathing for years.
I had gone from a mountain top to the plains to a ravine so deep I could no longer see the sky. Then God lifted me out of the filth to a cloud floating so far above the mire that I was dizzy! The amazing thing is, I can't get enough of God now. I want to read scripture and bask in his glory. Sure there are times when I get down, but I feel a hope in my heart I have never had before and it is incredible! The gaps in my life were filled with the love and the grace of God and it was all I needed, All I had ever needed.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.