Have you ever felt like, when people looked at you, they just saw the mask on you? They compliment you and may sometimes think you have it all together. Then, when you do show the real you, your authentic self, you then think, “Oh, what did I just do?”
That’s how I feel sometimes, not often, but enough for myself to notice.
This is my story, a story that was not easy for me to swallow and is still not at times. I hope and pray, that it can reach out to someone out there, even if it’s just one person, and gives them hope. You, are not alone.
My mamaw made my dress in the picture.
Growing up, I could not have asked for better parents nor a better brother. I had a loving and supportive family that worked hard, no matter the struggles they faced. I was blessed, to be raised up in a Christian home of parents that has a faith in God.
As I got a little older, it was becoming more noticeable that I was different from other kids. I didn’t start walking until I was 15 months old and I didn’t start talking until I was 2 years old. It took longer for me to learn how to walk, talk, understand, and communicate. I didn’t like loud noises either(note the picture) and I always slept straight through the night.
When I was 3-4 yrs old, I was sitting on mom’s lap just crying and she wasn’t sure why I was crying. She put me down and I walked over to pick up a piece of fuzz and as soon as I did, I stopped crying.
I was also not much of a hugger either and would sometimes fidget.
I was born with a major under bite too.
When I was 12 years old, I went through a stage of being scared of choking all because of a story that dad had told of a guy that choked. It scared me to death, that for a while, all I would eat was ice cream, bread, mashed potatoes, and I’d drink hot chocolate as my breakfast meal. I remember sitting on mom’s lap and her worried sick about me ending up in a hospital soon because of losing so much weight. I was getting very boney(pictured).
I also went through an eating disorder when I was 20 and dropped weight like crazy yet again. I weighed myself 3-4x’s A DAY, tried laxatives, made myself puke a few times, tried to avoid foods with any fats in it, worked out almost 3 hours a day, etc.
When it came to friends, I was never much of a social butterfly. I had some friends, but I didn’t hang out with them every single day. When we would have a get-together, after a while of being around people, I’d go off and do my own thing. One side of the house, everyone would be watching a movie together and the other side of the house, I’d watch my own movie.
I was also a horse fanatic, animal fanatic period. I was 11 years old when I got my first horse. Samson, was my first horse out of many to come, I’d buy and sale horses as I got more experience down the road. When I got older and moved to another barn, I helped train and give horse lessons.
There for a while, I wouldn’t even watch a movie unless it had an animal in it. I was also obsessed with dogs for a long time too.
When I was in regular school, that’s when things got bad. I struggled with so much with school. I’d come home with homework and as much as I LOVED learning, I had the hardest time grasping on. I’d cry in the class room, in front of all the kids, I’d cry at home when mom tried her hardest to help me. I’d call myself stupid and constantly compared myself to others. I then started getting migraines and what we thought was because of possible eye problems, turned out it was because of stress. There was a time, the whole class had to do while being timed multiplication problems. I only got a miniscule correct out of many.
Finally, after switching back and forth between two different schools, mom felt called by God to pull me and my brother out of county school and homeschool us. We were in 3rd and 4th grade when she pulled us both out and she homeschooled us all the way up to high school graduation. It was still a struggle for me, no matter how hard I studied. She even got a tutor for me one time and it still didn’t work. I only made it through pre algebra and did just a little bit of algebra 1 when it came to math.
Still, no matter the struggle I faced, the tears I’d shed, and the words I’d call myself at times, I LOVED school. I just LOVED learning.
Down the road when I was 18, I had a 4 hour surgery done to get my under bite corrected and I finally got my braces removed too. I had to wear braces for 3-4 years before my jaw surgery. While my brother, only had to wear his for 2+ years. I was constantly comparing myself to him, seeing how he seemed more normal than me and how I always felt like the late bloomer in everything.
When graduation came, I told my parents, that I did NOT want to take the ACT test(I did a few years later) because I did not want to go to college. After years and years of struggling with school, I didn’t want to face it again while in college and being surrounded by college students. Quite honestly, I had ENOUGH!
I was and still am determined to show people, that I can succeed, without a degree and instead, using different certification courses to pull through.
I later found out, that I was just like my dad when it came with school. He told me, that when he looks at me, he sees himself. He didn’t go to college and he struggled badly and still succeeded in life, by now owning his own large staffing company. He was the proof that I needed, that with God, all things are possible. Mom was a big help in the start up of the business too.
As I got into my 20’s I got even more into fitness/nutrition. I was fascinated by the human body for quite sometime. Mom lit the fire in me, inspired me, by her weight loss.
I knew, I was here for a reason. No matter the struggles I faced.
I still felt like something was missing though, even going through certification courses, I still struggled. I wanted to know, what was missing. Why was I struggling so much?! So, I went to get tested and I was diagnosed with Mild Autism and OCD.
When I found out, I was relieved and yet, still hurt and was in shock. After all these years(25 years), I finally got the real answers I needed, compared to the last tests I had done(I was diagnosed borderline autism when I was little). I already knew I had some kind of anxiety disorder though, but AUTISM?! I was ignoring the “mild” part and focusing so much on the autism part. Then, I had to step back, and look at the bigger picture. I had to stop and see, all the gifts God has blessed me with, the supportive parents and brother here for me, and knowing that I’m not alone.
God, has me, like everyone else, here for a reason. Each puzzle piece I collect as life goes by, will be used to create a beautiful masterpiece.
Each struggle that’s faced, will build me up into what God wants me to become.
You are not defined by a diagnosis. You are not defined by a degree, an ACT score, a number on a scale, an IQ test number, etc. “Your illness does not define you. Your strength and courage does.”
God’s got me, He’s got you. You, are not alone.