Monday, October 6, 2014

My twenties, in a nutshell

I had four job interviews last week, and today my favorite one told me "no thanks".  Today is the last day of my twenties, so this seems about right.  What a trying decade this has been.

I was born on October 7, 1984, which means that tomorrow I turn thirty years old.  Many people dread big birthdays like this, women especially it seems.  Sure, forty is the new thirty, but what does that make thirty?  Certainly not the new twenty, I hope.  I hope that thirty is just thirty, because I am ready for a new decade.

The first couple of years of my twenties were spent in recovery from anorexia/EDNOS.  I was in and out of recovery from 19 to 22.  During this time, I was also in and out of college.

When I was 19, I moved from Memphis to Omaha, and rushed into a relationship with my high school sweetheart which lasted for about two years.  That relationship was full of many firsts and many wonders.  I loved that man a lot.  I still do, in that "I hope that his life is incredibly happy and that all of his dreams come true" way, but not in any sort of "I regret ending that relationship" way.  He was a very sensitive and kind of strange but very cool guy.  It was definitely young love.

It ended badly.  But it still defines my extremely early twenties to me.  I think back on that time fondly, because he was the one to convince me to get help for my eating disorder, and he was the one who held my hand during those initial critical times.  Mom came and visited several times, but he was there in the thick of it.  He made me feel beautiful and worthy during a time when those are nearly impossible but very important feelings to have.

So that covers 20 and part of 21: first adult relationship and recovery from anorexia, while also earning a very few amount of credits from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and earning minimum wage part time at Dillards.

The second part of 21 and all the way until 23 was spent with a new guy, who ended up being my first fiance, and a huge mistake.  This guy made me feel ugly and unworthy, but for some reason I loved him and wanted to stay to prove him wrong.  It was an emotionally abusive relationship that ended confusingly.  I literally had to move across the country to end it.

I had completely dropped out of school by this time and was working as a front desk receptionist at a gym.  I partied hard almost every night, but definitely thursday through Saturday.  This was a very big drinking time for me, especially 21 and 22.  Also, I started smoking a pack of menthol cigarettes a day.

I had a very scary thing happen to me, which stopped my heavy drinking.  One night, I completely blacked out drunk.  I woke up in a strange man's car with no shirt on and a police officer asking me to get dressed.  I passed out and woke up again in a hospital.  It was terrifying.  I never recovered those memories, but I did get tested for STDs the next day, just in case I was raped.  That was the end of my "drinking just to get drunk" days.

I quit my job at the gym to work with my fiance as a bill collector.  He convinced me that it would be better money, and I agreed.  I hated that job so much, but it was better money.

During all of this relationship, I was convinced that I needed to lose weight, because my lovely fiance told me (and I believed him) that this was fat:

When I finally got the nerve to end the relationship, I called my parents to come get me.  To their credit, they immediately drove up to Nebraska and helped me move, without making any scenes about my smoking or about the fact that my ex was still staying at my place.

I kissed my ex goodbye, and moved back in with my parents in Tennessee.

I realize now that 23 is not old, but back then I thought that I was such a failure for living with my parents again.  I tried to make the best of it, and spend as much time with my mom as possible, because she ruled.  If it had been just us and the dogs, I probably could have stayed there forever.  But my dad and I have always had a difficult relationship, and soon the sparks began to fly.

I started working part time at The Home Depot to save up enough money to move out of my parents' house.  This is where I met Stacey, who was a harmless crush for me.  Harmless because he was totally off limits for two reasons:  He had a girlfriend, and he was my boss.  So, never gonna happen.  But, I thought he was cute, and that was all I was ready for at that point anyway.  A harmless crush.

Meanwhile, I quickly gained a bunch of weight, because I was finally free from the body hate that consumed me when I was with my ex... or so I thought.

I moved out, and into a bedroom of a rental house with three roommates who I had never met before, all male.  Risky business, I tell you.  But it worked out.  It was a crazy living situation, with the roommates changing often.  Within a few months, I started dating Stacey (he broke up with the girlfriend, but was totally still one of my bosses, so oops).  He moved into my room with me fairly quickly, and eventually became one of the "official" roommates and we took over the master bedroom and paid more in rent.

In 2009 (I'm 24 by then) I landed a full time job as an administrative assistant at an engineering firm, and Stacey and I moved to our own place.  I thrived there, and finally felt like an adult with a real job, a real relationship, and a real place to call home.  For the first couple of years at this job, I was content.  I had a good thing going.  I visited with Mom every day, either at lunch or after work; Stacey and I were doing well; and I was good at my job.  Also, I quit smoking!

Oh, yeah, I also started this blog and lost a lot of weight.

Some time in 2010, I decided that I wanted more.  I knew that I'd never be able to advance at my job, because everyone else there were engineers or accountants.  There was only one solution: Go back to school.

So in 2011, at age 26, I went back to college.  I stayed at my job for the first year, which means that 2011 went like this: Work 8-5; Class 5:30-8:30; see Mom and Stacey on the weekends (though I lived with Stacey, he worked 3p-12a, so I rarely saw him through the week).  It was a rough year, but I loved being back in school.

still wasn't skinny enough
(so I thought)

I had to quit my job in 2012, because I had to take classes during the day if I wanted to stay full time.  Suddenly I was living off of my savings and student loans.  I loved the first semester.  By this time I was 27 and loving being a student more than anything, and finally felt like I was right where I supposed to be in this world, and that my future was bright. Then came summer break...

That's when my mom died quite suddenly.

And everything went to hell quite quickly.

My late twenties have been all about two things: figuring out how my life works without Mom in it, and finishing school.  I'm still working on the first (though things are getting better every month or so), but I nailed the second.  And as an added bonus, Stacey and I are engaged.

And I gained a bunch of weight and even though I've lost 28 pounds (woo-hoo!!!), I'm still heavier than ever before (except these 28 pounds of course).  I've also grown up quite a bit,and despite "recovering" from my ED in my early twenties, I still deal with some obsessive thoughts about food and about my body.

older and bigger maybe,
but still pretty cute.

This blog is going to get another makeover soon, to adjust to a new era in my life.  I'm sick of having an eating disorder.  It held me back enough in my twenties; I refuse to give it another decade.  Not going to happen.

One day very soon, I will be completely free from disordered thoughts about food, exercise, and my body.  It's time to love myself from the inside out, and truly take this new decade as an opportunity to live life.  It's time to focus on getting a job, on getting into law school, and on getting married to the love of my life.  ED has no place in this life.  So I'm letting go.  One day at a time.

Tomorrow I'm going to start my 30s by taking a trip to visit my brother, (who has lived in NYC for all of my 20s)!  I can't wait.


Kiki said...

Happy almost birthday Leah!

First - I love your blog. So raw and honest, something that's not easy to come by. You've been through some real shit this decade and I'm really impressed with how you've kept your chin up and powered through everything life has thrown at you. I love your honesty and admire your strength. You've always been a beautiful girl, inside and out - and your determination inspires me. I'm proud of you and I know that your mom is watching over you and she's so extremely proud.

I'm excited for all the wonderful things your 30s have in store for you (including an awesome trip to NYC and a wedding!)

NewGirl24 said...

Thanks so much! I think that this will be a great year.