Updated: Jul 10, 2020
| This is the 91st story of Our Life Logs |
I wanted to live a better life. I made plans and took action, thinking I could create my own future. But I now realize now that things are bound to change, regardless of your checklist.
I was born in 1995 and grew up all over the state of Kentucky. My mom was a Southern Baptist and my dad was Jewish. Their views often caused a lot of fighting, but neither believed in divorce. So, parents were separated for a lot of my childhood. I mostly lived with just my mom and older siblings, but every now and then, my parents decided to get back together, and my dad would move back in. Though, it seemed that as soon as he arrived, he’d leave again. The strain was prominent all of my childhood.
My mother didn’t handle money very well. We had trouble affording rent, which forced us to jump around to different homeless shelters until we got back on our feet again. I went to six different middle schools while we moved around. I couldn’t get used to a place before we’d be forced to move again. It didn’t help that I was extremely overweight as a child, which made me the source of a lot of harassment and bullying. Whenever I tried to defend myself, my teachers mistakenly thought I just had bad behavior. I got in a lot of trouble. I still had a group of friends that I could rely on, but the rude comments followed me wherever I went. Even so, I never felt like I deserved the words the others threw at me. I knew my behavior was justified, and so I tried to remain confident.
After years of my family’s financial struggle, I promised myself that I would do whatever I could to get out of poverty. I got my first job when I was 15 at a fast food restaurant. I picked up any extra shift I could. I became a workaholic, desperately chasing chances to make more money. At the same time, I started putting forth more effort in school that I ever had, something not expected of me in my household. Both of my older siblings dropped out of high school, and no one would have been surprised if I had followed the same path. But I was determined to break away from the cycle. I took the college entrance exam, eight times until I got a high enough score. Since I was a first-generation college student, I received a full scholarship to Northern Kentucky University. I was making changes for the better.
During my freshman year, I lost almost 200 pounds by changing my lifestyle and diet. I felt like a different person. For the first time in my life, I was getting the kind of attention that made me feel good, by both girls and guys. It wasn’t something I was used to. It gave me the confidence to go out more, especially to parties.
However, there were so many downsides to my weight loss. I developed severe anxiety. I began to see the hypocrisy of society. People who had been rude to me before suddenly liked me because I wasn’t fat anymore. Guys who had been awful to me in high school were hitting me up, apologizing and asking me to dinner. On the other side, girls I had been friends with for years suddenly didn’t want to be my friend because I wasn’t their “fat, platonic friend” anymore as if I was a threat or competitor now. I didn’t want any of that. I was just trying to lose the weight, not out-do anyone. It was ridiculous. I lost a lot of people in the beginning, but I found good people along the way.
Despite the problems at first, I had a great time in college. Everything was laid out perfectly for me and my future seemed set. I was going to school on a full scholarship and I was out partying with fun people. But things don’t always work out. In my senior year, my roommate and I took our partying a little too far. Going out to parties and bars was nearly a daily ritual. At the height of our rowdiness, we threw a huge New Year’s Eve dorm party where a student attending it got alcohol poisoning. When administration caught word of it, we were punished. My scholarship was taken away and I was moved to a different dorm. But without the scholarship, I couldn’t afford tuition on my own.
Not long after the punishment, I received more shocking news at a doctor’s appointment. I was there seeing if I could get surgery to remove extra skin from when my weight loss. They had me tested for things that could prevent their ability to perform the surgery, one of them being a pregnancy test. I was on birth control, so I wasn’t worried. When the doctor returned with my results, he told me they couldn’t do the surgery.
“Why not?” I asked, thinking it was some medical problem I didn’t know about.
“Because you’re pregnant.”
I thought he was joking. I couldn’t be pregnant! I was on the pill! How did this happen? Why did this happen? I wasn’t ready for a baby. I was three classes away from graduating. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I wasn’t even romantically involved with the father. How would he react to this? Everything was crumbling around me, and I didn’t know what to do. I spent a lot of my pregnancy angry at my situation. I wasn’t ready to be a mom, but I never considered adoption or abortion because I knew I couldn’t live with the “what-ifs.”
When I told the father of my baby, I expected him to cut ties with me considering we were just hooking up at the time. I was surprised when he stepped up to the plate and wanted to be there for me. He wanted us to be together, but I didn’t want that. I wasn’t ready to be tied down, baby or not. He still stuck around, just as scared as I was, but willing to put it aside to be a father.
Knowing how expensive it was to have raise a child, I started working twice as much. I also dropped out of school since I couldn’t afford tuition after losing my scholarship. I’m not sure if overworking is what caused my pregnancy to be so brutal, but at 31 weeks, I had a hemorrhage. The pain was so intense that I was bedridden for the last three months of my pregnancy. When it was time for my son to come, they had to perform an emergency c-section because I was still weak from the hemorrhaging.
In August of 2017, I gave birth to my son Jackson (Jack) and on that day, I realized how selfish I’d been for being so negative the last nine months. I look back on that time I was angry now and wished that I would have just accepted my situation and stayed positive. My son was worth it, he was perfect, and he was mine. All the bad feelings about the timing, the money, and the relationship with his father didn’t matter when I looked into my baby boy’s eyes. I knew from that moment on, my life wouldn’t be the same.