Photo at left: Christmas Ball 99. And a pretty accurate portrayal of our relationship at this point in the story. Ha.
Okay, another deep breath.
These were very dark times. And I'm hoping that honesty and hindsight now will help turn them into a LIGHT for someone else. That's why I'm being open and sharing these things... I know that if I'd had any idea that there were other girls out there who were struggling with the same things I was, and that I really wasn't a freak, it would have helped me out immeasurably back then.
Just knowing you're not alone in something can be enough to help pull you out of it.
During this time, I started to take my anger and frustration and hatred and heartbreak out on myself. I used to burn my arms. Somehow it gave me a sense of relief to feel physical pain. I'd hide the scars, but not very well. I'd lie about where they came from when someone asked. It was like I was BEGGING someone to just see and save. I had convinced myself that I deserved it; it was an outlet for my self-hatred and I couldn't stop. I chopped off all of my hair and I dyed it black. And I would sit in my lonely room and cry and cry and cry, screaming at the walls- blaming God for it all. I spat prayers at Him in anger and asked Him why, after all of this, I still wasn't good enough. Never good enough for Him or anyone else.
After all, I had done all of the things I was "supposed" to do! I'd done well in school, I'd been involved in clubs, I'd had lots of friends, and I had tried to be a good kid my whole life! Where was God when I actually needed Him to RESCUE me? Why did He disappear at the very moment I was flailing my arms in the air- looking for something solid to grab hold of before my head slipped under the water? The love I thought I'd had for Him was quickly morphing into hate.
All of the things that the world had told me would make me happy were making me wretched, and around this time is when the thought somehow wormed its way into my brain that death would be better than life. This thought, it sat there... perched on my brain for far too long. And I started to believe it.
Chris and I were still in our destructive pattern. And I still attempted to seem like I had it all together when I left the safety of my room. We were both still involved at our church, as well. Chris tried reaching out to our youth pastor, Darrin, (who is actually staying at our house this weekend with us as I type this. Woo woo!) but we were still in a place where we couldn't be completely honest with anyone about how bad it actually was because of the shame and the fear of being told we couldn't be a part of the youth group like we had been anymore.
One day, Chris was talking to Darrin in his office. Chris now had the completely unfair weight upon his shoulders of being responsible for me doing something drastic to myself out of total desperation. He was beginning to see the change in me- the change that had squeezed all of the life and joy from my eyes. He was afraid. As he was meeting and talking with Darrin, the college pastor stopped at the door and stuck his head in the room. He asked Chris to come into his office. The college pastor had found out that we were sleeping together.
Photo at Right: My Senior Prom. And Shannon, you're right... he DID LOOK HOT. swoooooon!
Chris was scared to death as he followed him down the hall. The pastor proceeded to tell Chris that our behavior wasn't acceptable (obviously), and that Chris could no longer be in a leadership position at the church. (Understandable.) But instead of reaching out to Chris and coming alongside of him to help him out of the situation, he leaned back in his chair, cooly looked Chris in the eyes, and said, "Now it won't happen again, right?"
Um, sure. Thanks. We're cured!!
Following Chris' lead, I decided one night to tell our other youth pastors at the church that I was depressed and giving up on life. I remember the scene clearly. We were standing in the hallway upstairs, and I was crying so hard that I was doubled over- unable to stand. My pastor and his wife tried to comfort me as I told them I needed help. Quickly.
I remember feeling better after I'd finally told someone. I trusted them to help me. But as far as I know, they never did anything. I continued on, alone.
I was quickly losing my trust in the people around me. I felt like I was screaming and no one was listening.
And so, one night, I made a deal with God.
**to be continued...**