After leaving the apartment that I shared with my boyfriend at 17 years old, I expected everything to start looking up. I expected that my life would get back to a normal teenage life. I had the love and support of my family surrounding me in everything I did. I was returning back to church with my family. I was still working at the department store and ultimately went back to school in the fall as a senior in high school.
Although things in my life were getting back on track, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It was actually a really rough time in my life. I found myself in a transition period from adolescence into young adulthood – before I was really ready. Unfortunately I didn’t have the innocence I once did and I couldn’t unlearn “the ways of the world” that I had learned over the previous 5 months. As I mentioned in my last post, I was a smoking, drinking, deflowered young woman now – and that lifestyle had consequences. The really scary thing is that I didn’t recognize the consequences at the time. It took me several more years, really just within the last few, for me to truly understand the fullness of them.
Shortly after returning home I had this overwhelmingly empty feeling of desperation. I spent days in bed feeling utterly lost, helpless and alone – even though I wasn’t alone! I remember spending hours trying to hide from the world, crying my eyes out – and oftentimes I didn’t even know why. I knew that I had let everyone in my life down. I knew that I had treated everyone in my life poorly. I carried a weight of shame around with me from the decisions I had made. I had thought that once I returned home to my parents that everything would be great, that everything would be back to normal. The truth is – I was a changed teenager who couldn’t wipe the slate clean. Only God could do that – and despite returning to church, I hadn’t actually turned back to Him.
After some time, I started to return to a normal teenager (whatever normal meant!). I went back to school as a senior and started socializing with some of my old friends. I even graduated high school a semester early at the end of the fall semester with plans to start college early the next semester.
From the outside, it looked like things were starting to get back on track. And while it certainly appeared that way, remember that I wasn’t the same person. I was doing a lot of the same things I did before I moved in with my boyfriend, like going to church and hanging out with friends, but I now had this knowledge and experience with worldly temptation that I couldn’t break free from. And even though I was going to church again, I was no longer seeking God. I was going through the motions, but He wasn’t welcome in this new life that I had.
For starters, I was still smoking – as much as I tried to hide it from my parents. (Sorry, Mom & Dad!) It was such a nasty habit, but it was now part of me. I think I even got to where I smoked a pack a day – which if I remember correctly, was like 20 cigarettes! I have since quit smoking thanks to my hubby and his strict rule of “no smoking”, but that’s a story for another day. By the time I had actually quit, I think I was a smoker for about 10 years. Yikes!
I was also still a drinker – and unfortunately it was becoming part of my normal life. I would drink with friends and would keep up with the best of them. I don’t even know how I drank as much as I did sometimes. Before I left for college, I drank with my friends after work and on the weekends – and yep, I’d drive around that way (SCARY! Don’t EVER do this!!). After I left for college, I’d go to parties and drink with friends and complete strangers alike (again SCARY! Don’t EVER do this!!), forgetting that I was a 90 lb young woman with no ability to defend myself. I put myself into situations without considering the real dangers that were present. I didn’t even think about the possibility that there could have been people there who had malicious intentions towards intoxicated young women (aka young drunk girls) – I would drive under the influence of alcohol – I would drink so much at times that I would get sick (that’s alcohol poisoning!!). I was utterly clueless.
I’ll tell you about one particular instance. Just before I was about to leave for college I turned 18 years old, and there was a new 18+ night club that opened up. I had been dying to go there – so some friends and I made plans to go. Because I couldn’t drink at the club I made sure I had plenty before I went. Anyway, on the way home a friend of mine wouldn’t let me drive, so he took the wheel. He shouldn’t have been driving either… We got pulled over and yep – you guessed it – we both spent the night in jail. What on earth was I going to do!?? Was I going to be out before Christmas? Was I going to be out before I had to leave for school? What did it mean to have a night in jail on my record? I was terrified! Of course, I did get out before all of those events – the very next day actually. I had my car taken away (and rightfully so!), I had to complete some community service hours (cleaning public swimming pools), I had to take some alcohol awareness classes, and I’m sure there was a fine that my dad took care of. I know how awful this experience was for me, but I can’t even imagine what it was like for my parents to get a call at 2:00am to learn that your daughter was IN JAIL! UGH! My abused parents were/are saints.
Two side notes:
- While I was sitting in the back of the police car handcuffed, my nose itched. I literally slid my and out of the cuffs, scratched my nose and then slid it back into the cuff! It didn’t dawn on me that I was actually supposed to be RESTRAINED. I got a good chuckle out of that!
- When I was talking to my mom about this post and mentioned that I was going to include my infamous night in jail, SHE BUSTED OUT LAUGHING! She reminded me of how many times I called her collect from my jail cell “waiting for my dad to come get me” when in reality, he was there “waiting for them to let me out”. She’s pretty sure that they were holding me to make a point. POINT MADE!! And I’m also pretty sure that I called collect over a dozen times, costing my parents even more than I already had. (Again, so sorry, Mom & Dad!)
That night was a combination of poor choices – about drinking, about who I was hanging out with, and about how I chose to spend my time.
Now that you have an idea of how I was living my life at the time… there’s this other issue of impurity. After I left my life with my boyfriend at age 17, I was now an impure young woman who quite honestly didn’t see a lot of value in herself. I couldn’t imagine that any decent young man could actually love me or want to love me because I was no longer pure. I was the classic story of the young woman who had no self-worth and lived that way. I didn’t set boundaries and when I did, they were easily crossed.
I was the sad, cliché of a young woman who lived IN the world and FOR the world. I joined in with the crowd in doing whatever everyone else was doing – whether it was drinking, smoking, sex – it didn’t matter to me.
The sad thing is that I didn’t notice WHY I was doing these things and HOW it was affecting me. After the relationship I had with my boyfriend at 17 years old, there were feelings of insecurity and low self-worth following me everywhere. I wanted people to like me, so I did what I thought I had to in order to fit in. I was looking for my self-worth where it didn’t matter… in the world.
There are consequences that have followed me from my youth into adulthood because of the things that I was doing at the time. I would have never imagined there were real costs to my actions. I’m not 100% sure of how healthy my lungs are now, but I’m sure there is some level of damage done to them from smoking. Every time I fill out an application of some sort and it asks if I have ever had a legal infraction, I have to disclose that I was arrested with a “Minor in Possession” charge against me (so embarrassing!). And the consequence that bothers me the most is how my impure lifestyle has affected my relationship with my husband – we’ve had to work through a lot because I did not honor the model that God had set out for us (nor did he, admittedly – and yes, he gave me permission to disclose that).
The really sad thing is that if I had only turned to God during this time, He would have restored me to a place of wholeness and healed my broken heart and soul. That’s what He longs to do for us. The unfortunate thing is that I didn’t do that (that comes much later in this story!). I looked for love and acceptance in the arms of the world – in places that I now know to be devastatingly destructive.
For those people who knew me during this time, I am truly sorry for the awful ways that I treated all of you. I was so focused on myself that I didn’t understand how my actions and decisions were affecting you – quite honestly I didn’t care to. It saddens me that I didn’t learn this sooner. Please accept my apology.
I lived this lifestyle for several years. I had no idea that I was heading straight for times of hurt, pain, grief and sorrow because of the way I chose to live my life. Believe it or not, spending a night in jail wasn’t enough to set me straight. Wondering aimlessly into the arms of the world wasn’t enough to set me straight. You’d think I had hit rock bottom – but I hadn’t…
What I Learned:
- Simply leaving my life with my boyfriend at 17 years old was not enough. I should have turned to God in repentance at that time.
- Bad habits are like are like a bad virus. If you don’t shake it quick, it’ll outstay its welcome – causing you misery and pain.
- Choose your friends wisely. It’s been said that you become like the company you keep – and that was so true for me in my case.
- My actions and decisions caused others pain as they had to help me work through the consequences.
- Consequences don’t always manifest right away. Sometimes they take time to surface. When they do, it takes a lot of work to deal with and heal from them.
- What bad decisions have you made in your life and what consequences did they bring with them?
- What bad habits have you allowed into your life and what consequences did/do they bring with them?
- How have you addressed your bad decisions and/or bad habits?
- How have you addressed the consequences of your bad decisions and/or bad habits?
- What role does God play? Is it time to invite His grace and forgiveness in?
If you need prayer, please contact me privately – I will be a prayer warrior for you.