Saturday, October 27, 2012

COM Ch 4: A New and Ugly Me

Chapter 4:  A New and Ugly Me

            All through high school, I never gave much thought to dating.  In fact, I avoided it.  I really only dated one wonderfully sweet guy for four months.  But I didn’t have any feelings for him.  I dated him because my mom liked him so much and made me go out with him.  Which was precisely the reason why I broke up with him.  (But honestly, Rodney, you were such a nice, sweet guy.  I’m sorry for what I put you through.  It wasn’t fair, and I wish you the best.) 
            Other than that, I only went on a very small handful of dates, and it was never with someone that I really liked.  (Okay, it was two dates.  Once to the homecoming dance and once to the fair along with a group of friends, so I don’t even know if you can call that a date.)  If I really did have a severe crush on any guy, I would never let it turn into anything.   

            I didn’t figure this out till graduate school, but I had a pattern of sabotaging relationships or potential relationships all through high school.  Hurt people with deep scars tend to do that (or else they go the other direction and throw themselves at people).  I would only like someone who didn’t like me back or someone who was unavailable.  And if they did start to show any interest in me, I freaked out and cut off all contact or completely gave them the cold shoulder. 
            I am sure that I thoroughly confused a few guys.  And I still feel bad about a really nice guy that I encouraged to ask me to homecoming.  And then, after I accepted, I backed out later that same day.  (If you are out there, Chris from freshman year . . . I’m sorry!  It wasn’t you.  It really was me!)   
            I didn’t mean to play games.  I just didn’t know that I was terribly scared of being rejected or of having a relationship and then losing it.  So I made sure that I never risked it.  It’s like that question, “Is it better to love someone and lose them or never love at all?”  That’s an easy one: never love at all.  Then you can’t get hurt.  (Probably the same reason I was never very competitive - then you can’t lose.  Plus, I just never felt like I had to prove anything or beat others at anything.  Except volleyball!  Sloppy backyard volleyball angers me.  Play with some dedication and effort, people!)  
            I made sure that I only liked or went out with the “safe” guys, the ones who I would not want to stay with long-term or who wouldn’t return my affections.  Then I could never get hurt.  But I didn’t know that this was all going on inside of me until Jason.  I had known Jason for a few years through church and high school.  After he got out of a long-term relationship, we began hanging out as friends.  And we hung out as friends for over a year. 
            But during that year, poor guy, I unconsciously engaged him a terrible game of cat-and-mouse as these unknown fears wrestled inside me.  I would have a little crush on him until he showed interest.  And then, in typical fashion, I would pull back and act aloof.  This went on for a long time.  I even had the nerve to ask him if I could fend off advances from other guys by saying that I was going out with him, without really having to go out with him.  (Yeah, I know . . . That’s harsh!)  He was polite enough to let me do that. 
            But he did decide to risk it once and officially ask me out on prom night.  I got asked to prom by another guy, but I didn’t want to go.  (Sorry, Jon!  You were such a sweet guy, too, and it would’ve been fun.  That’s something else I would go back and change if I could.  I would’ve gone to the dance with you as friends.  It was so nice of you to ask.)  So Jason, who didn’t go to my school, asked if I’d like to go out with him and do something else instead.  But I turned him down, too, saying that I had a lot of laundry to catch up on.  It was terrible, I know.  But I really did have laundry to do.  (And I still do.) 
            I gave him quite a ride over the year.  But he was still there; a faithful, long-suffering friend.  In fact, I used to pray, “Lord, I’ll go out with anybody, just . . . not . . . Jason.”  I had a sense that a relationship with him would be the biggest risk for me because I really did care about him, in spite of myself.  I stood to get really hurt with this one. 
            And then, one day, my mom couldn’t watch this go on any longer.  And she pointed out how I may miss out on a great opportunity that I could never get back.  That scared me!  Suddenly, the risk of losing this opportunity forever scared me more the chance that I could get hurt.  And overnight, I decided that I really did like him and that I wanted to pursue it.  No more games!  But now I was afraid that I had pushed him too far.  I had to somehow let him know that I was interested and that it wasn’t a game this time. 
            One day, a group of us friends had decided that we would go to a movie, if it all worked out.  Well, this other girl (who liked Jason) was supposed to plan it.  But she called and told me that the plans fell through.  So I agreed to baby-sit my brothers at home, and planned to ask Jason to come over and baby-sit with me.  I would let him know that night that I liked him. 
            He then told me that this other girl told him that I said I was busy when she called to confirm plans.  So it would just be him and her going to the movie.  (Sneaky, right?  Can’t say I blame her!)  Since he had already accepted her offer and I was already babysitting, off he would go to the movie with her.  I was panicked!  This girl was going to weasel her way right into his heart, and I was left to freak out at home by myself and to deal with the realization that I got what I deserved.  I had pushed him too far and my chance had passed. 
            Much to my relief, though, he came to visit me before he went to the movie.  And when he heard what she had done to trick him into going, he was not too pleased.  Although he didn’t want to go with her anymore, he was too much of a gentleman to cancel.  So instead, he quickly called his friend, Paul, to ask if he would join them at the movie so that he did not have to go with her alone.  I can’t tell you how thankful I was for that.  That was my only bit of relief as I sweated out an evening alone at home babysitting.  Maybe it would work out after all? 
            Later that week, as our youth group hung out at Burger King, I had my chance to put out the bait to see if he would take it.  I made sure to smile more at him, look him directly in the eye, and sit by him at the restaurant.  I wanted him to know that it wasn’t a game this time.  I think it was because he wasn’t prone to breaking hearts (although he could’ve been a heartbreaker - tall, dark and handsome, gentlemanly, a killer smile) and that he was a good and faithful friend that I finally decided to risk getting my own heart broken.
            I told him how another guy from my college had asked me out for Friday (I wasn’t making that up; it did happen) and I had turned him down saying that I was busy. 
            “But I’m really not doing anything on Friday!?!” I hinted to Jason.  And then I prayed, Please, take the hint!  Please, take the hint! 
            He’s no dummy!  He leaned forward and in a hushed tone asked, “Since you’re not doing anything on Friday, would you like to go out with me?” 
            Yes, Yes, YES!  “Sure,” I replied, calmly.  And then, just to clarify, I added, “Just you and me, right?” 
            “Yeah, just you and me.”  And that was it!  I finally decided to risk it.  I agreed to go out with someone that I actually liked.  I was eighteen years old when I went on my first “real” date.  I had finally opened my heart up to someone, and I knew that I would not risk losing it.  I knew that I was in the relationship that I wanted to be in for the rest of my life.      
            People often wonder how (and if) you can really know someone is right for you, right off the bat - if you can find “the one.”  Well, I just knew somewhere deep down that when I finally found someone I was willing to risk getting hurt over, that person would become the one for me. 
            [I got into a conversation once with a friend about this.  She said that she believes that there is “the one” out there for people; that when you walk down the aisle to get married, you should make sure that you found the one.  I, however, see it just a little differently.  I believe that we don’t have to find that one perfect match that’s floating around out there . . . just waiting for us.  I believe that we make someone the one when we choose to commit to them and only them. 
            I think it’s risky to believe that you are supposed to find the preordained “one” somewhere out there.  I don’t know for sure, but I think God brings different possible matches into your life at different times.  And it’s your responsibility to search for God’s guidance regarding His Will during those times.  So maybe you missed out on someone once because you weren’t ready or willing.  But God, in His wisdom and graciousness, eventually allows another “match” into your life.  And when you finally decide to marry, you make that person the one.     
            That way, there’s no feeling like you made a mistake.  There’s no wondering if you missed the person you were supposed to be with.  And when you hit a rough patch or the romantic feelings temporarily seem far away, you will remember that you made your spouse the one when you married him or her.  There are no other options out there. 
            God says, in Matthew 19:4-6, that marriage is a one-flesh union that He created, and that no man should break it.  And I think this applies even if you feel like you made a mistake in choosing partners.  It will never be a mistake if you realize that you made your spouse the one by your decision to marry them.  Anyway,  I don’t know if you followed that.  And I’m rambling here.  But it’s just a theory of mine.  I didn’t get a chance to tell her this, so I’m telling it here.  Back to the story.]
            For our first date, Jason and I decided to go on a really exciting date - a movie and ice cream.  (We are both such simple people!)  We went and saw The Three Musketeers and then went shopping at Jewel for ice cream to eat at home.  It was a low-key, relaxing evening.  Not too unlike the many evenings we had gone out as friends.  But it was just the way I liked it.  We talked and laughed and enjoyed the first “alone” time the two of us ever had.  And this was my first “real” date. 
            And this new part of my life started out wonderfully.  I had finally opened myself up to a real relationship.  It was new and exciting, and all the wonderful jitters where there.  In fact, I remember being so nervous about running out of things to say on the phone that I would have a list of topics in my hand, in case the conversation lagged.  And I loved the feeling of having someone open the car door for me and put his hand on my back as he let me go into a room ahead of him.  It made me feel special, cared for. 
            Now, not to paint a false picture here, there were a few moments when he could be a bit of an adolescent male.  One example:  Just after we started dating, we had gone to a Christian winter’s retreat for our youth group.  And this girl threw a snowball at him.  Well, he just “had to” chase her down, tackle her in the snow, and basically roll around on the ground with her as they fought to get snow in each other’s faces.  Right in front of me!  I just stood there like an idiot, not sure of what to do.  I was fuming!  And I was crushed inside!  I wish that I had just walked away, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. 
            So I just waited until they were done, and then I dragged him off into a quiet part of the yard to “talk” to him.  But for the life of me, I couldn’t make him understand that you don’t return the flirting gestures of another girl or wrestle in the snow with her when you are in a relationship.  Even if you “couldn’t just let it go because she deserved it.”  Oooh, I fumed about that one for years.  (But, it’s okay, I’m over it now.  Really!  Just don’t get me started, though.)
            But overall, he was just what I wanted in someone.  And he never gave me any real reason to ever want anything else.  But I meant it when I said that the scars of divorce go deep.  And just the very fact that I was finally in a real relationship - with real feelings and real risks - opened up a whole part of myself that I didn’t know was there. 
            Various fears began to surface, and rather ugly behaviors and attitudes came with them.  Not because of Jason, per se, but because I had finally broken through a self-protective wall that I had in place for years.  And behind that wall was a tidal wave of fears.  I had held these in my unconscious for as long as I could, and I spent my young life protecting myself from having to deal with them.  But I could avoid them no longer.  And now it was time to face them, whether I wanted to or not.  So here goes. . . 
            One of the most unpleasant and repulsive things that I learned very quickly about myself was that I was incredibly jealous, and this stemmed from a terrible fear of abandonment.  (Big surprise, huh?)  And, because of this, I became incredibly suspicious and controlling.  I was threatened very easily by the mere suggestion of another female.  (Thus, my rage at him rolling around in the snow with another girl, and then my inability to let it go for years.  But like I said, I’m over it now.  Ancient history!)
             And so to protect myself and to make sure that he never left me, I had to maintain tight control over everything.  However, as others may understand, it is these very tendencies to keep a relationship that can actually tear it apart.  It is like wanting to hold onto a beautiful little songbird so much that you squeeze it tighter and tighter to keep it from flying away. . . until you have squeezed the very life out of it. 
            I was threatened by any glance in the direction of another girl or by any girl in his near vicinity, even if she was a fully-clothed, two-dimensional photo on the cover of a magazine in the gas station.  So I followed him everywhere.  I had to watch his eyes to see if he glanced at any of them.  And I had to scope out every place to make sure that there were no girls around to flirt with him, or even any girls standing twenty feet away and completely minding their own business.  And I was even more fearful when I was not around him and couldn’t keep an eye on him.     
            I remember one particular time when he told me that he just wanted to stay home that night and not get together.  That was fine with me because it was a very cold, stormy winter day.  Later that night, however, my mom told me that Jason had called and said that he had decided to go play basketball with the guys at an indoor center.  I . . . was . . . livid!   
            I’ve heard the expression about being so mad that you are “seeing red.”  Well, I don’t even think I could see red because my eyeballs were bulging out, and my head was  spinning around on my shoulders.  I was so freakin’ angry, I flipped out!  Surely, there was some girl there watching him or talking to him. 
            I needed to see for myself what-in-the-world was going on when I wasn’t there.  So I ran outside, brushed three inches of heavy snow off of my car, squeezed my bulky-winter-coat-body into the driver’s seat of my little hatchback VW Golf, and put it into drive.  And I set out to find a place that I had never been to before.  As I squeezed the life out of the steering wheel, I fumed and muttered to myself the whole way there: 
            “How dare he . . . He told me he was staying home . . . If there are any girls there. . . Oh, I bet there are, and they are probably hanging all over him . . . He’s in so much trouble . . .”  Although it was a hundred degrees inside the car from the scorching anger, it was so frozen and snowy outside that I could barely stay on the road or see thirty feet in front of me.  All I could go was like fifteen miles per hour the whole way there.  It was the longest four miles of my life!
            When I finally got there, I slammed my car door, slipped and slid across the parking lot and began hunting him down like the scoundrel he was.  Bursting through the front door, I was ready for a fight!  I was ready to start batting off the weasel-ly, desperate, can’t-get-their-own-boyfriends, relationship-destroyers that would be hanging all over him. 
            I went room to room and then . . . I spotted him.  There he was playing basketball with the guys, and there were . . . well, there were no girls in sight.  Not one!  (Well, except for me, now.)  I can’t tell you how relieved I was.  And when he saw me, I smiled ever-so-sweetly and told him that I just came to watch him play.  I think he was touched that I would drive all the way out there during a severe snowstorm just to be near him!  Nobody else’s girlfriend did that!        
            The fear of abandonment alone would have been enough to deal with, but there were many more where that came from.  Another less obvious, but very damaging, fear was the fear of not being worthy.  Deep down, I had a sense that I didn’t really deserve to be loved, that I wasn’t worth much.  (Trust me, I was not this self-aware as I was going through it.  It wasn’t until I was in college and graduate school studying psychology that I was able to figure all of this out.  So this is all “in retrospect.”)   
            I just couldn’t understand why anyone would want me.  It would be just a matter of time before he found something better.  Surely, he would break up with me because I wasn’t really worth keeping.  Why would anyone choose to be with ME?  And I would think this over and over again.  I even asked him that question a few times.  There were so many better choices out there, and maybe I should just spare him the agony of being with me.  
            “Are you sure you want to keep going out me?” is a question I would ask whenever we had a disagreement or fight (which wasn’t often, but enough).  I couldn’t understand it, and I didn’t trust the sticking-ability of the relationship, and I wanted to let him off the hook in case he did want to bail before he wasted too much time with me. 
            These fears had nothing to do with how he treated me.  They all came from how I saw myself.  I hadn’t grown up with the stability of one set of parents.  In my world, people separated.  That was just a part of life.  So deal with it and get over it!  I grew up learning to put walls around myself to keep myself from ever having to feel the pain of loss.  But behind those walls was a scared, little girl who didn’t want to get hurt and who didn’t feel worthy of a long-term relationship.   
            I couldn’t understand how another person could love me for who I was, especially since I really wasn’t anything special.  No matter how many times Jason reassured me that he did love me, I still had yet to learn how to let someone love me - without feeling like I had to earn it by being better or more or different than I was.  
            And stemming from not feeling worthy was the fear of being a burden to anyone.  If any of the fears still hang around, it is this one.  If I wasn’t worth much, then I definitely wasn’t worth being burdened over.  I never wanted to burden the kids at school by making them feel that they had to hang out with me, so I often ate lunch alone.  Or I “borrowed” my cousin Keith’s friends and sat at his table if my friends were in a different lunch hour.  I didn’t want to burden my boss at the ice-cream shop by asking for a raise, so I worked my hardest and waited for him to notice.  (He never did.)  And I never wanted to burden Jason with having to provide anything for me.  Wasn’t having to go out with me enough?
            Like any young people who didn’t have serious grown-up responsibilities, Jason and I would often go out to eat with friends.  But oftentimes, I didn’t bring money with me.  I never really had a lot because my job money went to my car and college, and I didn’t carry what I did have with me.  And so he would have to pay for my meal.  He was willing to and happy to, of course.  But I felt terrible about myself, because I was such a lead weight that he was forced to drag around. 
            I was so ashamed that he had to take care of this burdensome fool that didn’t bring her own money and who wasn’t even worth the price of the meal.  That, on top of my embarrassment over admitting that I was hungry and having to eat in front of people, led me to tears a time or two while we were at the table with our friends. 
            [To explain that:  When I was in high school, my mom had twins.  After she began to lose the weight, she began feeling pretty good about herself.  And she would stand next to me and hold up her leg and say, “Look at me.  I’m thinner than you.  Look at my legs compared to your legs.”  Now to be truthful here, I’m very proud of her for losing the weight after six kids and a C-section for twins, but she was not thinner than me.  (Sorry, Mom!  I love you, but you weren’t.)  I was a teenage cheerleader who barely weighed more than a hundred pounds.  She was a thirty-six-year-old mother of six. 
            “Do you really need that bite of food?  Should you really be eating that?  Do you know what that will do to you?  I wouldn’t eat that if I were you,” are things she would say whenever I put a bite of food in my mouth or opened the fridge.  While it was only a few weeks or months of this, it left a lasting and damaging impression on me. 
            I never did develop a full-blown eating disorder.  Thank God!  But I did develop an extreme embarrassment over being hungry and, especially, over having to admit it to anyone   And I hated to eat in front of people.  I would take a bite and then hide my mouth with my hand as I chewed.  I felt ashamed and weak! 
            And it stuck with me for years.  In college, I felt like a huge, ugly cow anytime I had to eat.  I was mortified being seen walking into the college cafeteria, like eating lunch was being caught doing something unspeakable.  It’s one of the reasons going out to eat with Jason, especially when he had to pay for my meal, was so embarrassing. 
            I did not bring this up to point fingers at all, but I felt that it was important to bring it up for two reasons.  One, so that we remember that our words have a lot of power.  Just look at what bullying, especially cyber-bullying, is doing to the self-esteem of so many young people.  People are being crushed under the weight of words, and we all need to take much greater care in how we use our tongues.  And two, because eating disorders are not that uncommon.  And there might be someone out there who sees this example from my life and realizes how their battle may have started and where their damaged self-view comes from.  We learn to look down on ourselves and to feel bad about ourselves.  That is not an in-born tendency.  We learn it by how others treat us.  And if we can pinpoint when our self-esteem took a nosedive, maybe we could realize that it isn’t that we are “just a screwed-up mess”.  It’s that we got that message from someone else.  And it’s a message that we need to throw away.  Just thinking out loud here!]
            Anyway, I just couldn’t bear to be a burden to anyone.  It was my own stupid fault if I didn’t have money for eating out, and nobody should have to help me.  But I also did not want to sit there and watch everyone else eat.  So I would let him pay, and I would eat, and I feel terrible about myself.  (I’m not saying any of this is healthy.  It’s just the way I felt.)     
            But wait, folks!  There’s more!  And yet another variation of those fears was a fear of rejection.  (I told you these came pouring out - and they weren’t pretty!)  In school, I found it more comforting to just hang out on my own and sit by myself than to risk putting myself out there to be rejected.  I wanted to be with people and would gladly go out with others.  But I usually waited for someone to ask me, instead of imposing myself on anyone and making them feel like they had to include me (thereby, being a burden and risking rejection).  I walked around a lot feeling rather alone, like I was on the outside, looking in.   
            I was actually surprised once in college when I walked into the cafeteria, nervously scanning the room for a place to sit, and one of my dorm-mates, Laura, called out, “Hey, Heather!  Come on and sit over here.”  Someone actually noticed me and wanted me to come over and sit with them.  And it wasn’t one of my professors this time.  I don’t think that she ever knew how much that meant to me!  (Thank you, Laura!)
            I’m sure all of this will come as a shock to people who knew me because I seemed to have everything so together.  I’ve had people tell me that they thought I was perfect, that I had no problems because I was always so confident and easy-going and pulled-together.  This was partly because I didn’t know these fears were there until I was eighteen and, after that, I was pretty good at keeping them hidden (except from Jason).  My mom even told me the other day that she had no idea that this was going on in me when I was going through it all. 
            When I look at all these fears, I think they all basically stem from the same feeling of just not being good enough.  They just play out a little differently.  God knew what He was doing when He said that people should not divorce.  It is very damaging to everyone, especially children.  And that kind of damage can spill down through the generations as children are left to struggle with ruined self-esteems and the consequential unhealthy feelings and behaviors. 
            (Please remember, though, that whether you have been through a divorce or not, God loves us and forgives us.  He wants us to accept His forgiveness and healing and to walk with Him the rest of our lives, no matter our past.  He is much more concerned with where we are going than where we have been.  We are the ones that have a hard time forgiving ourselves.  God is so much more gracious and generous with His forgiveness.  We just have to accept it.)  
            I began facing these fears at eighteen, but it took around six or seven years of struggling to finally put a lot of them to rest.  And I really don’t know how Jason hung in there through all that.  I was very fortunate that he either was not very aware of these terrible feelings and controlling tendencies, or he was incredibly forgiving about them.  I would have broken up with me!  I was that bad!  But, I am ever so grateful that he stuck it out. 
            We even made it through my summer away in Papua New Guinea.  And I have to say that during that summer, God showed me something that actually made our relationship stronger and healthier.  After being away from him for ten weeks, I learned that I could make it just fine if we ever broke up.  And oddly enough, by realizing that I could still be okay if I lost the relationship, my fears began to lose the terrible hold that they had on me.  I came back still as committed to Jason as when I left, but now I was there because I wanted to be, not because I needed to be.
            And there was a sense of freedom that I hadn’t known before.  I was free from the sick level of desperation that drove me to extreme jealousy and need-for-control.  I learned to relax more and trust more.  It’s ironic, actually, but by finally opening my hand and giving that songbird the freedom to fly, I learned that it wanted to stay.  And then, I could just appreciate its song and enjoy it for what it was.  I would never have learned that by squeezing it to death.       
            I would love to be able to go into all the ins-and-outs of how I was able to work through the fears (because I love psychology), but that would be a whole other book.  In a nutshell, though, I was able to finally get past some of these fears due to a few things: my desire to get past them, my willingness to face fears and admit faults and shortcomings, the make-it-or-break-it summer in PNG, the immense amount of therapy that we get in graduate school to become a counselor, the incredible faithfulness and trustworthiness on Jason’s part (which gave me a sense of security that I so desperately needed) and, most importantly, the amazing grace of God. 
            Plus, I realized that it was just too exhausting to be so jealous and controlling.  And if I didn’t like who it made me, it would only be a matter of time before Jason figured it out, too.  Thankfully, it was within a safe, secure relationship that I tackled my deepest fears.  I know many others are not as fortunate.  
            Needless to say, Jason hung in there (what a trooper!) and the day after I graduated from college, we went to Great America.  We decided to get one of those old-time photos taken.  And so we got all dressed up; me in some southern plantation gown and Jason in an old-time mobster outfit with a tommy-gun.  (I didn’t like the flapper dress that went with the scene.  So I chose the big, poofy dress.)  We were taking our places and trying to figure out where to stand. 
            “Here, you sit on this stool,” the photographer said to me.
            “And what about me?” Jason asked.
            “Well, why don’t you just kneel?” she told him.
            It was so obvious that I actually missed it.  In fact, I had been expecting it all weekend, but when the moment finally came, I didn’t recognize it.  Yeah, right, I thought.  It’s only been four years of dating!  And I’ve been trying to get him to kneel down for a long time.  But then I saw the twinkle in the photographer’s eye as she looked at Jason.  And I looked at him, and he looked at me, and then he knelt down and took out the ring.  And there in front of all the people watching, he asked me to marry him. 
            “Yes!” I said.  Of course!  And the photographer got a picture of him holding the ring up to me and me with my hands up by my neck in surprise.  It was a picture-perfect moment!  (Pun intended!)  And the wedding was scheduled for the next year, after my first year of graduate school.  
            Although it was not an ideal past, I really like the place that I am in now.  And if my life had been any different, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  So I don’t regret any of it.  I always say that even if I never work another professional day in my life, the tens of thousands of dollars (Yikes!) that I spent at college and grad school were well worth it just for the emotional healing it brought to me and, hopefully, to my family after me. 
            But that’s not to say that I don’t get sad every now and then when I think about what I missed out on in my life, like wishing I knew what it was like to grow up with only one dad and all.  But I truly am thankful for what I do have and who I am now.  So I can’t really say that I regret anything about my life (except for not bringing those cars to Russia).  And that’s something God has done.  He said in His word that He would work all things out for the good of those who love Him.  (Romans 8:28)  And I can see how He took something broken in my life and made in stronger and more beautiful. 
            But as we all know, life is not a neat little package to be opened and sorted and packed away in a nice, orderly fashion.  It comes with hills and valleys, good times and bad, and lessons to learn and relearn.  And eventually, I would find out that things would get a lot tougher.  I’m incredibly thankful, though, that God helped me to work through my fears and insecurities in my relationship with Jason . . . before I entered into my greatest role and my greatest trials.  But this wouldn’t be the last time that I would have to face them. 

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