Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Where I come from

It's my first post for Blogtember.  Today's challenge is to describe where or what you came from. The people, the places, and/or the factors that make up who you are.

Wow this could be a pretty big blog post.  Recently, I have started reflecting more on what has shaped who I am today. Obviously this blog is part of that as I titled it “Finding Myself in My Forties”.  This will only be some of the pieces of what and where and who has made me who I am.

From as long as I can remember we went to church.  Not only on Sunday’s but on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night.  Going to church and participating in church activities was the biggest consistency in my life.  (I have elaborated more on this in my ‘religious background' post here.) 

I grew up in a small town in Colorado.  My best friend was my neighbor.  We moved a lot as I was growing up, and it was kind of a joke that we lived on every street in town.  We lived in several different houses, actually a lot of them were duplexes. The funny thing is, my best friend and her family seemed to move right along with us.  We either lived side by side in the same duplex or she moved into a house after we moved out of it.  In hindsight it seems kind of weird but that’s just the way it was. 

Several of the duplexes that I lived in growing up.
From a very young age I remember walking all over town, a child alone (or with other kids), to and from school, to the store, anywhere, but never with an adult. I have a memory of trying to walk to school, I had to have only been in kindergarten, and the wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t keep going.  So I sat down on the curb until someone I knew saw me and picked me up.  We only lived about 3 blocks from school at that time, but I couldn’t even image letting a kindergartner walk to school by them self today.

Sixth grade was a monumental year for me.  It was when I really started to notice that there were ‘popular’ kids and I desperately wanted to be their friend.  For Valentine’s Day, of course the tradition was to give all the kids in the class the little paper character valentines.  But I thought I would buy my friendship with a couple of the girls and give them a candy bar with their valentine.  This was big for me as we didn’t have a lot of money and for me to come up with two candy bars at one time was going to be hard.  I somehow managed it though, but the morning I needed to take them to school I couldn’t find them.  I was heartbroken. I knew my chance to be best friends with the popular girls had been destroyed and I didn’t know how I would go to school that day.  I did and when I came home I found them where I had left them.  I was so caught up in trying to be a cool kid by bringing such a great treat that I had anxiously overlooked them. And the more I looked and couldn’t find them, the more distressed I got. I must have looked over them a dozen times without seeing them.  But it taught me a lesson, believe it or not.  Buying a friendship was never going to be true. It wasn’t right and I knew it.

One of my worst (yes I said worst) memories is from the sixth grade. I don’t remember the circumstances that prompted me to say to the class and the teacher that I was moving across the street from another classmate. But the teacher and the whole class busted out laughing at me because all they heard was that I was moving across the street. I was mortified and hated that teacher.  And I have never forgotten how bad I felt that I wasn’t allowed to be heard.  
My sister and I dressed alike.
My mom was single from my earliest memories, although she was married when I was born. He wasn’t ever a part of our lives.  My sister is about a year and half younger than me. My mom always dressed us as twins even though we really didn’t look alike. (It might sound funny to say ‘my’ mom but my sister and I still both refer to her as ‘my mom’ not ‘our mom’ or just ‘mom’. We have mentioned it as adults and think it’s funny but it is just what we say) Anyway, she was single for quite some time.  About the time I was eleven years old she met and married my step-dad. I had never known what having a dad was like and he was/is a great example of an amazing dad.  He taught me so much and made me realize what my potential really could be.  Actually the sixth grade move was into our first house as a complete family.
(Wish I had a good picture of my step dad at that time, but I don't) 
Our first family house.
I loved that house.  It was two stories and it was finally a whole house that was all ours.  No connected neighbor in the other side of the duplex.  We each had our own room and we felt like we had climbed the ladder from poverty to middle class.  Nothing was better than the dollar bill that was left each morning for us to take to the public pool to swim every day during the summer.  We thought we were rich or something. And then we got an Atari.  We really thought we were something then.  
 The Christmas we got our Atari.
In junior high, I still wanted to be a part of the popular group.  Although, I think overall, I fared quite well in junior high. I was a different person at home and at church than I was at school.  I had a lot of confidence in my little church group and was often the center of attention.  I was always congratulated about how good I had done performing in plays and dancing and gymnastics.  Often after church I would ‘practice’ the cheers I had seen the high school cheerleaders doing at the football games.  Church was just a different, more comfortable place for me. 
 Me and a friend at some church pageant or play.
By the time I started high school; I really tried to find myself and joined different clubs and sports. I discovered that I liked to be involved in whatever I could be.  I had never cared before if I missed a day of school, but when I thought I might miss something, some announcement, or some chance to join something, I just couldn’t take that chance. I desperately wanted to be on student council, but never won an election.  When I joined drama club, I found out that each club got to have a representative on student council.  I couldn’t wait and promptly got myself picked to be the drama club rep for the following year.  That only lasted for a couple weeks, once I discovered that I wouldn’t be able to be in drama club because I needed some other class that was at the same time as drama.  Like a lot of girls, I wanted to be a cheerleader and the homecoming queen (or at least one of the attendants).  But I never had enough confidence in myself to even try those things. I never even went to prom because I couldn’t get over myself.  I wouldn’t go without a date and I wouldn’t go with just anyone, so I ended up not going. 

We had moved a couple more times since the ‘house across the street’ that I loved so much.  By the time I graduated high school we had moved to a bigger neighboring town.  My sister and I still continued to go to our old school and we both graduated from there.

When I was sixteen years old, my mom gave birth to my baby sister.  What a weird thing that was for me.  I was so involved in everything at school that I really didn’t have time to be distracted at home.  I loved her (and still do), but I feel like I never really bonded with her.  And then two years later, I went off to college.  I ended up only staying ‘away’ at college for a semester but when I came back home, I drove to another college every day, I worked, and hung out with friends.  So I really didn’t spend much time with her then either.  I regret it now, but was too self-consumed in my youth to think of anyone but myself. 

For some odd reason when I was applying to the new college, one of the questions on the application was asking for the date when your biological parents were married. (Can you imagine?)  Anyway, I had to ask my mom, and she had told me that they were married in May 1971. Ok, I was born in September 1971, so they weren’t married when I was conceived.  That was probably less common in 1971 but not unheard of.  Then I started to talk to my sister about it and we started to remember a guy that she had talked about quite a bit when we were little (before our step-dad).  So one day as she was heading out the door, I decided to ask if he was my dad.  I wasn’t prepared for the answer. And I definitely should have waited until she had time to stop and talk about it.  I won’t get into the details, but I was devastated. The guy who I had thought was my dad all those years wasn’t actually.  He wasn’t around anyway, but my sister and I had always been told we had the same mom and dad.  That question came up a lot because we didn’t look that much like each other and we were built completely different. It was a joke to us…yep, same mother, same father.  Now we knew. 

Over the next couple of months I got to have a conversation with the man that I had thought was my biological father.  He explained that he had married my mom knowing she was pregnant but that the child deserved a family.  ME, he did that for me.  Obviously the marriage didn’t work out, but it changed what I had thought about him for so many years.  He had told me that he always wanted and tried to stay in touch but my mom would never allow it. 
 Me, my mom, and him.

Years later, I did get to meet my biological father. It took me a long time to get up the nerve to search for him.  In the process of our first communications I found out that he knew she had gotten married, but didn’t have any idea that they had divorced.  He thought that we were living as a happy family all those years and never wanted to interfere.
The day I met my biological father.
I got married and started my own family within the next couple of years. And of course that has changed who I am, but up to that point, the things above are some of the major things that have made me who I am.  And I think it is a good place to end this post.

Thanks for visiting!
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  1. your house looks fantastic! It's always interesting finding out things you weren't expecting. Thanks for sharing some much about yourself. You wrote it out very beautifully

  2. I just found your blog from the "most" link up. Loved hearing your story!


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