I’m going to try (TRY I SAY) to follow along with The Story Of My Life and Blog Every Day In May. Yes, I’ve already messed it up so have decided to write my own rule book and select a few posts over May that really speak to me. Today I’m starting with this one – but just to let you know I’m also making up my own word limit ……. and posting over a couple of days.
“The story of your life in
250 2500 words or less”
I was born in the early seventies. The last child of my parents I grew up with an elder brother and sister on a farming property 20 odd kms outside of Ballarat in country Victoria. My parents were very stoic practical farmer type people. We lived a simple country life without any of the bells or whistles my city friends enjoyed. Money was tight and spending was always limited to what we needed as opposed to what we wanted. You know what I mean, hand-me-down clothes and toys and home-made everything else.
My childhood was all about the animals. I grew up playing with cats, pet lambs and horses more so than other kids. My mum had lost a baby boy at two weeks old, eighteen months before I was born. This meant there was a four-year gap between my sister, the next youngest, and myself. The age difference was big back then and I made up for the lack of sibling companionship by spending most of my time in my own imaginary world of play with my pets.
After going to the local country primary school I caught a bus into Ballarat for high school. In contrast to the lack of money that was so evident in my early childhood my parents sent me to a private school and I struggled to adjust to the dramatic difference this brought to my world. I was unprepared and I didn’t make friends easily. My self-image suffered and in the early years I became one of those kids who was always tempted to hide out in the library at lunch time to avoid the hassle of finding friends and feeling like I fit in.
I was also struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia. This took a huge toll on the early years of my academic performance. I would be lying if I told you I enjoyed high school – I more endured it. There were high points, with sleepovers and parties, but I seemed unable to let people really be-friend me. Academically I did well. I learned to battle the dyslexia and won, passing year twelve with good results. I still clearly remember the day I took my uniform off for the very last time. I wasn’t sad. I verged much more on the side of relief and hope that brighter things lay ahead.
After school school a church friend and I moved to Brisbane together for a year of Bible School. Yes, really we did! I should explain that another defining moment in my family was the untimely death of my elder sister at 19 (when I was 15). Her car ran off a gravel road and hit a tree while I was out horse riding with a friend. That was the day my world got shunted onto a new uncomfortable axis. The pain and grief were unbearable but had to be endured – because there was no alternative. This spurred my mum to search for God and we ended up attending a pentecostal church and becoming ‘ Happy Clappy Christians‘. Having a faith and believing there is more to this world than just what you can see is an amazingly powerful thing – and even though I no longer consider myself a ‘Happy Clappy’ type of Christian I still to this day draw my strength from knowing God. I spent the rest of my teenage years wrapped up in youth groups and playing music at church based events – culminating my a year at Bible College. And what a year it was. Hilarious, quirky and full of great memories – but more about that some other time.
After finishing Bible College life produced another whacking great whammy. Within weeks of me returning home to Victoria both my father and his father (my grandfather) passed away. Losing Dad, on top of my fresh scars from my sister’s death, was just soul destroying. He was my rock in life and not having him any more was to horrible to contemplate. I can still hear the noise that escaped out of me when I realised he was gone. To this day I can’t think about that without tears. I was 19 and felt like there was no longer anything solid or dependable about life.
Being a good Christian girl I didn’t have the escapes most young people use to deal with intense emotional pain - so I chose to use food. I ate. And then I ate some more. I would eat to the point of being sick – because it felt good and in the moment made me happy and peaceful. To be honest to this day I still use food for comfort – although in a much less damaged way. Food is dependable and doesn’t leave you with a broken heart – so it suited my needs perfectly. But my bingeing also brought with it shame. Horrible gut wrenching shame that I could be such a glutton – something I had to hide away and not allow into the light of day. This little messy emotional stalemate took me years to unwind and still lingers in me when I allow stress takeover my sanity!
Over my twenties I studied. First a certificate in administration and then a Diploma of Social Science in Welfare Studies. (Hello is there a rescuer in the house!) And then I worked. I literally fell into a job at the Department Of Human Services working as a case manager with families in Disability Services ……. and so began a career.
My twenties is also when met my soon to be husband (my Nature Boy). Well actually I met him just weeks after my Dad passed away but we didn’t get together until I was twenty-four. A friend from Church brought him out to our farm and he become part of our youth/young adults group. We were each others first super-serious relationship. We ‘went out’ for two years. But we fought a lot and ending up thinking loving each other simply wasn’t enough - so we broke up. I was devastated and cried uncontrollably for days. I had to call in sick to work because I couldn’t stop the stream of tears. Another person I loved had left me – and this time it was by choice.
Then two months later he returned and in his own unconventional way asked me to marry him. After a six month engagement we married the day after my twenty-seventh birthday and moved into an old weather board house we’d bought together three months earlier. I was in heaven. My own home to renovate and a man I loved to the moon and back. The two things I had always wanted most out of life. It was blissful and then a bit more. Then, as it does, the honeymoon ended ……………..