Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Weekend Trip Down Memory Lane

I'm currently a year away from celebrating 10 years since my return to the Catholic Church. Well, I count two different months: June 2006 and September 2006. In June the seeds were planted but I didn't fully embrace my reversion until September. I usually count June 2006 as the start date because it's when I began praying and really researching things. Over the weekend I was hit with a major trip down memory lane courtesy of the bands I used to listen to and it got me thinking about how much I've grown in the past (almost) decade.

2005 was arguably my favorite year. It started with an early 20th birthday trip to Disneyland with my (then) two best friends. We stayed until closing, around 11 p.m. if memory serves me right. Then followed a birthday dinner (on my actual birthday) at my favorite restaurant with my friends. We ended taking up a good portion of the back of the restaurant, that's how many had shown up. My friends were amazing. Everyone was supportive and always there for me.

I was loving college (I was attending Santa Monica College then) even though I went through about a half dozen majors. I loved the location because it meant that we could (and did) head to the beach in between classes.

I had been offered a contract with an agency that would've marked the beginning of my career in the "biz" shortly after my 20th birthday.

I was carefree. I lived for concerts. Those who worked at the Roxy and the Troubadour in West Hollywood knew me by name, that's how often I went to concerts. Random "mini road trips" around the city in which my friends and I would drive around the city, just to be out, and eating out was the norm.

I went out with my guy friends a lot. They were not defined as dates but I went out to movies, concerts, to lunch and/or dinner with them (which is the only reason why I'm not completely awkward around guys, lol.) My life seemed idyllic... but a lot of things were missing.

Things began unravelling shortly after I turned down the contract with the agency. The reasons why I turned it down were because a) I wasn't comfortable with the kinds of things I would be sent out for and 2) there was something deep down that didn't sit well with me. I walked away and didn't look back.

Then my so-called friends began turning on me. I accept partial blame here. I was immature and handled things poorly. I hate to admit it but I was dishonest with them. I should've cut them out of my life instead of testing their loyalty (towards the end of those friendships) when I suspected that they were spreading private information about me amongst them. Again, I was immature and made terrible decisions. The girls did everything they could to mentally and socially destroy me when they found out that I'd lied to them. If you've read the first Will and Lina novel you'll get this reference: what Candace did to Lina was nowhere near as bad as what these girls did to me. I deserved it... even if they took it too far. If you've ever wondered why I loathe lying so much, why I will own up to things that most people would deny, and/or why I'd rather take whatever bad consequences will result from my words and actions, now you know.

I still had the guys on my side... for a while, at least. It was at a time when a lot of my guy friends had their first apartments, living away from home. One guy friend tried to get me to his apartment, using the "we'll just hang out... by the way, I think you're attractive" compliment. Uh-huh. "Hang out." Another guy friend flirted and painted lovely pictures of trips to Paris because he had the means to do so and wanted to share those experiences with me. One guy friend bluntly told me that he thought I was cute and wanted to sleep with me but that he didn't want a relationship with me. He even offered to pay a cab for me to get home afterwards. Needless to say, I turned down all those "lovely" offers and my friendships with them ended.

Everything began to take a toll on my health. The stress from the bullying -- the mental abuse I received from these girls was insane -- got to be too much for me. At first the doctors couldn't figure it out. They run tests. Physically, I was healthy. We later figured it was all anxiety related. Then I began to pray to St. Jude, the patron of difficult/hopeless cases. Things began to change.

First, I had to cut communication off with everyone. My eyes were opened up and I saw that almost all of my friendships were extremely toxic. Snip, snip. From that pre-conversion time of my life only 4 friends are still in my life. Three gals and one guy. To this day they remain some of my best friends. One of them was a fellow target of the vicious rumors and lies of the girls that were once my friends. There was no actual reason why she should've been a target either. They just didn't like her so they spread rumors and lies. Cue a Mean Girls reference about Girl World. In a way, that friendship began because I began distancing myself from the girls and knew this girl was a kindred spirit. 12-11 years of friendship later, we're on opposite sides of political and social issues but we're still there for each other when it matters.

During the period of recovery and renewal between June and September 2006, I reevaluated most things in my life. I began learning about the religion of my childhood. I began to try to get rid of lot of bad habits. I had acquired quite a few of those in my years away from the Church so some of them took a couple of years to get rid of completely. I saw that the emptiness I felt was being fulfilled as I grew closer to God. I began to attend Mass, which I hadn't done between the ages of 13 and 21. I went to confession for the first time in almost a decade. I began to feel like my true, authentic self.

This past weekend I tweeted:

I made a lot of bad decisions as a teenager (really, who didn't?) but there are a few I'm happy that I was able to avoid. I avoided drinking myself stupid, doing drugs, sleeping around, and all your basic/cliché "I grew up in L.A." stuff. I still haven't touched anything alcoholic but now that has to do with my not wanting to have it alter my anxiety levels; doctor's orders. I still absolutely no desire to do drugs. My future husband will know that I've always chosen to wait for him, even when I had the opportunities to "get it over with" and didn't even think about sex from a religious point of view. I got rid of habits that were harmful to my soul but were seen as normal in my lost years. I became a better version of myself... even though I still think there's room for improvement. lol. For this I'm grateful.

I'm not here to say "look at me, all better/perfect now" or to shame anyone who might've gone further than I did. I'm so far from being perfect and, really, my Guardian Angel must've worked overtime to keep me on a good path. That's the only explanation I have because I was surrounded by some much temptation. I still make mistakes to this day and I'll continue to make them. I wanted to share this for two reasons.

First, I know I get a lot of young readers who are still in college and/or still in their teens. A lot of these readers may do things that they believe will forever brand/label them. They believe that because they've "messed up," that there is no hope for them. Please know that there is always hope to "start over" again. The Sacrament of Reconciliation exists for a reason. Our fallen human nature and our past does not define who we are or what we're capable of. Do I need to suggest you read St. Augustine's Confessions if you don't believe me? Because, seriously, read it if you think there's no hope for you. God's mercy and love is greater than anything you may say or do.

Second, I'm just so full of gratitude towards God. I know you guys are probably tired of hearing (or reading, in this case) me talk about trusting God. It's been the major theme in my life these last couple of months and this weekend's blast from the past just showed me what is possible through Him. I didn't trust Him then because I didn't know how to. I didn't think it was possible. I didn't consider myself religious. Still, He had greater plans for me than I had for myself. He knew what I was capable of and He guided me to where I am now. Again, I still have a lot to learn and some habits (the occasional impatience while driving... yeah...) to work on but that's okay. God will continue to guide me and I hope that by learning to better trust Him, He can do more for others through me.

And that is the longest post I've written in a while. Sorry! lol.

I still have the entire apartment to vacuum and help clean so I should go do that while there's still sunlight. ;)

I hope everyone has had a great start of week. :D

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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