Now I had the life I had asked for. I was 17 years old, living with my boyfriend, still going to high school and working at a local department store. I didn’t have my parents hovering over my every move. I didn’t have anyone telling me how to live my life. I could do whatever I wanted! I could be with whoever I wanted! This was going to be great!
After I got over the initial excitement and total shock that I had actually moved out of my parents’ house, I started to settle into a routine. I went to school every day, just like I always had – although now my boyfriend had to drive me there. I went to work, just like I always had – although now my boyfriend had to drive me there. I hung out with friends on the weekend – although now it was primarily his friends. I watched TV during my down time – although now it was always his shows.
Many of these activities – school, work, friends, TV – were pretty much the same things I had done before I moved out. The one aspect of my life that I didn’t pursue any longer, though, was God. If you recall from some of my earlier posts, I was really active in church as a youth. I attended several times a week and even did some “extracurricular” church activities, like participating in outreach ministries. Now that I was living with my boyfriend, I NEVER went to church. I didn’t have any activities that included God at all. I’m not even sure I prayed anymore – at least I can’t remember praying routinely. I had heard all of my life that God needed to be included in every aspect of my life – and for a long time, I believed it. Now, I thought I was doing just fine on my own – and that I could handle anything that was thrown my way. I was totally oblivious to the fact that I had it all wrong. I really did need God in my life. The moment I omitted Him from my daily walk is when things really started to spiral out of my control.
My boyfriend worked at a local pizza delivery company, while I worked at a department store. Both of us were making minimum wage, and neither of us had consistent full time hours. Most of our money went to pay rent, utilities and the few necessities we had – mostly cigarettes (yes, I was a pretty dedicated smoker back then) and sometimes alcohol. I’m not quite sure how we got the alcohol though, because neither of us were 21. We never had that much food in the house – usually a loaf of bread, a carton of eggs and occasionally pop-tarts. Sometimes on Friday nights, he’d bring home a pizza from work and we’d fill up on that.
During the first few weeks of living together, I tried my hardest not to think about what my decisions had actually meant. I ignored the fact that I had devastated my family. I ignored the fact that I had turned my back on God and everything that He meant to me. I ignored the fact that I started to turn away from my friends. My life started to change in a way that I didn’t even recognize who I was anymore. I was now an avid smoker – I had smoked a few cigarettes with friends before, but now it was part of who I was. I now drank alcohol routinely – I had drunk a few times before as well, but it was now a regular recreational activity. And, of course, I was living with a boy outside of marriage – and neither one of us slept on the couch, if you catch my drift.
It wasn’t long after I left my parents that my boyfriend started to show a different side of him that I wasn’t very familiar with. I knew he was considered a “bad boy”; however he never acted that way towards me. This side had always been there – I just hadn’t ever seen it for myself. He started to get suspicious of me and the relationships I had with other guys. Before I met him, one of my best friends was a guy – he accused me of cheating on him with this old friend. I worked with several guys at the department store – he always alluded to his suspicion of me cheating on him at work. It even got to the point where I wasn’t allowed to have my brother visit me at the apartment without him there because he thought my brother would bring a friend and I would cheat on him with my brother there! Seriously! Who did my boyfriend think I was? A hussy who “got with” every guy I met!? Remember that before this, I had NEVER done anything this extreme – ever! (I loved the few visits I had from my brother though – those visits helped me to hold onto the thread of connection I had to my old self. I’m not sure if my mom would send him to check up on me or if he came of his own will, but I thank God for those visits.)
Inevitably, my boyfriend and I started to argue about things – sometimes it would be over the stupidest stuff! But we would fight. When he would get really angry, he would throw things or knock around some of the furniture in the apartment. I remember one night that he was so angry that he flipped over chairs, threw one chair across the room and threw just about anything that he could find around the room. He never actually hit me, but he did push me once or twice onto the couch.
Side note: Even though he never actually hit me, pushing me the way he did was not acceptable. Any physical actions like that is unacceptable, whether arguing or not – for men AND for women. Sometimes we women get off a little easier on these things, but we are just as accountable as the men are when it comes to our physical actions. Additionally, sometimes we intentionally instigate or provoke physical actions during an argument – and that is NOT OK either. I am not an expert on how to “successfully argue” with another, but I certainly have learned what NOT to do in these situations.
He would always apologize for getting so heated and would then beg for forgiveness. I couldn’t ever tell what would trigger him getting upset and I was always scared of another outburst, so I started to retreat into myself. I stopped being as outspoken as before. I started to just “go with the flow” so that I minimized the chance that I would spark a fight. I didn’t really even talk to anyone at school anymore. Occasionally an old friend would try to reach me at school and talk about what was going on, but I never told anyone the truth. I was always scared of my boyfriend finding out that I had talked to someone – especially if it happened to be a guy. I was scared of what people would think of me – after all, this was the life that I had asked for…
What I Learned:
- Things are not always what they seem and things do not always happen the way that I plan them. Apparently I don’t have as much control over my life as I thought I did.
- My clouded view of my reality prohibited me from seeing who my boyfriend really was.
- I am accountable for my actions. I cannot escape responsibility for the life that I live.
- The further away from God I got, the more out of control my life became.
- Have you ever gotten yourself into a situation that quickly spiraled out of your control? That turned out very different than you planned?
- Are you in that situation now? How is it different than you planned?
- Have you tried to make it right on your own or are you making excuses? Is pride preventing you from getting out?
- What steps can you take to fix your situation? If you already have taken steps – did they work?
- Where is God in your situation? Is He welcome in your situation? Why or why not?
I pray that if you are in a situation where you feel hopeless and helpless that you will allow our God to enter into your life. If you need prayer, please contact me privately – I will be a confidential prayer partner for you.