This post is part of the Story Sessions “The Girls We Once Were” link up. Please visit their page to read more stories about the girls we were.
The girl I once was has shaped me as a woman but she does not define me. I was reading a chapter in Bob Goff’s book Love Does the other day. I came across a quote that really made me stop and think for a long while. He writes:
“It has always seemed to me that broken things, just like broken people, get used more; it’s probably because God has more pieces to work with.”
That spoke truth to my heart as I thought about the girl I once was. (Note: there is a brief mention of an eating disorder, an abusive relationship, and rape. If those are triggers for you, be warned.)
The girl I once was was unwanted. She was the child not meant to be. An accident of two teenagers’ unbridled passion.
She was the oldest, the responsible one, the girl who was perfect on the outside but empty on the inside. The girl who became a secret rebel. The girl who just longed to be loved as much as her sisters.
She was starving, binging, and purging, trying to be perfect, trying to be acceptable.
She cut through the water with long smooth strokes. She fell into a rhythm with the water, one two three breath left, one two three breath right, for lap, after lap. Her body could keep the cadence and her mind would imagine being better than she was in real-life.
The girl I once was found her legs. Her legs were strong and could carry her long distances. Steady, consistent, mile after mile. She was voted to have the “sexiest legs” by the high school boys cross-country team. She felt free and strong.
Those legs became her escape from a difficult home life. They took her miles upon miles on roads canopied by trees. Most of the time alone, or with some teammates, she would construct stories of a better life, one that did not involve fear, loneliness, and rejection. A life where she was good and not bad. A life where she was the one who was noticed. A life where she was wanted.
Those legs became the curse of her disordered eating and distorted body image. They became a weapon against weight, a calculation of just how many could be eaten, burned off, and still stay upright.
The girl I once was had her first boyfriend at fifteen. He was sweet, cute, but he was a sloppy kisser and it seemed gross. Then at sixteen she met a boy from Scotland. He was dreamy, funny, and roused in her feelings of being on the cusp of womanhood. He kissed that girl as she had never been kissed before, the kind of kiss that made her stand on her tip-toes, the kind of kiss she wouldn’t experience again for many, many years. He was her “summer love” and then he was gone.
The girl I once was lacked confidence in herself. Always doubting, always being told “not good enough,” “you are stupid,” “why can’t you be like…” She was naive, she trusted others too much but never herself or her instincts.
The girl I once was found herself in an abusive relationship in college but she found the courage to get out of it and she grew up a little. She made more mistakes with men, lost her virginity when she was raped, but again found the courage to leave victimhood behind, to move to the middle of the country, to take on a new identity if not legally, in practice. She began to build a new life. She built up walls to protect herself. She made smarter decisions, created firm boundaries, concentrated on studies, career, and finding faith again through the Catholic Church.
The girl I once was met a man she recognized as a truly good man. He said he loved her, and she believed him. He said “will you marry me?” and she said, “yes.” He said, “will you trust me?” and she did. Eventually. He kissed her like she’d only been kissed that one time before, and she knew she would love him forever.
The girl I once was, walked down the aisle, said “I do” and walked off into a new life leaving the girl I once was behind. She was there, she sometimes wanted to come back, but the woman I became would not let her.
~ The Reluctant Widow