I have a pretty sketchy past. I made some really bad decisions and I was headed down a bad road. I was perfectly content with that life. It was easy, it was fun, I had friends. I felt like it was where I was meant to go. But I got lucky. My senior year, things got worse. I’ll narrow it down to a few key pints. I no longer lived at home, my Mom was in Rehab for my graduation, and my depression and bad decisions were swirling down a drain pipe that was my life… Then my sister came in to save me. Christina. She came to my graduation, along with my little sister and my Uncle Evan. It was so nice to have family there to support me, especially when I was at a time in my life where I felt like family didn’t even exist. The age gap between me and my sister, mixed with the parenting styles that seemed to drive all of us out of the house as soon as we could run, kept us from really knowing each other. Well, scratch that. She knew me. She RAISED me. But, aside from a few shadowy memories with her, my sister Christina was kinda like a fictional character. When I was about 10 I got to spend some time with her at her house in Idaho. I had a blast. Her and her husband at the time, Ben, took me to a fireworks show for 4th of July, I got to help out at the vet clinic my sister worked at, and I got to go to the church services where both of them played in the band. I t was like experiencing this whole other life. The kind I had read about in all the books I tried to escape into. I remember being so shocked when she told me we could both shower at the same time… at my house you couldn’t even turn the sink on while someone was in the shower. I remember the ambiance of her house, the completely different atmosphere. I wasn’t at ease though, because I didn’t know how to act. It was literally as if I had woken up in another world. I kept waiting to mess up, or for the peace to shatter… but it didn’t. And going back home sucked. (Don’t get me wrong here, it wasn’t the worst childhood ever. My mom took care of us enough that I am alive today. I had a roof over my head and food on the table.) Living with Christina was amazing. So naturally when she suggested I spend a month or so of my summer before “college” (I meant to go, I had scholarships… but I guess that was not where life was meant to take me at that point) with her and her husband, Pat (she and Ben had divorced awhile back), I jumped at the opportunity. Ok, well I was a little hesitant. It was my last summer with my friends. My last summer of freedom. But deciding to come to Idaho was one of the best decisions of my life. I can say without out doubt, that Christina saved my life that summer. I spent the summer camping and meeting new friends. Getting to know my sister and her family(she has three boys). It was such a shock to be thrown into yet another new environment. This time, it was more of the changes my sister had made. I had experienced enough by this time, that I knew my life was not the way things usually are. That the stuff written in books actually did happen. That families like that DID exist. But Christina as a hole had seemed to change. It had been 8 years since I had really spent time with her. She was like a butterfly. She had finally spread her wings, and allowed her true self to be free. I imagine a lot of it was the different relationship she had with Pat, but it was crazy for me to see this new side of her. She had always been the good girl. The conservative, quiet, I’ll make everyone happy girl. And now, she was assertive, she smiled and laughed without any inhibitions. She still sang, but now it was on a home karaoke system blasting from the speakers. It was amazing, and inspiring and it took some getting used to. But she taught me it was okay to embrace who you are, to let that wild side out every now and then(as long as you know when to pull the reins in), that there were ways to have fun that didn’t start with terrible decisions and regrets the next day. She showed me the importance of not letting another person define you or over shadow you, or hold you back. All of that I learned from her that summer.
I always intended to go back, but the closer and closer it got to the end of the summer, the harder and harder it was to imagine going back to the life I had finally left behind. And once again, she stepped in and helped me. She told me I could move to Idaho. That I could stay with her and Pat for a bit. That she would help me figure it out. I love her so much for that. She took me back home. I stayed for maybe a week or two, packed everything I could into her little vibe and she brought me back here. Back to my new life, to the promise I thought was forever gone for me. And that is where it all started. She let me have some time to enjoy the last of my free summers, but then pushed for me to get a job. In October, I finally got that job, after a lot of job searching. I was hired on at McD’s as a crew member. And today, I support my family with that job. I am a department manager, and still working my way up that ladder. I have made leaps and bounds in this job, and have overcome many obstacles. This job was my home away from home, and honestly, I still spend too much time there. But that is a battle I am still fighting and eventually I will learn to balance it. But I love my job. I LOVE my job. How many people can say that? I have made some of my best friends there, I met my husband there, and I have learned so many life lessons from that place. McDonald’s is a part of me now and that will never go away. And I wouldn’t even have it if she hadn’t pushed me to keep applying for jobs, to keep calling to check up on the application. If she hadn’t driven me there for my interview, and then for every day of work until I moved into my own place. I have everything because of my sister’s amazing unconditional love.
In November, she bought me a cell phone from Cricket for my birthday and helped me pay the bill until I had a few paychecks banked away. She attempted to teach me to drive her car, but let’s just say stick shift is NOT my thing. She made sure I met people my age, made sure I went out and did fun things. She was the Mom every teenager dreams of having, but I was really lucky cauz she was also my big sister. She gave me advice on boys, taught me the best ways to put on make up, went clothes shopping with me… She was my best friend. I find it sad now just how little time we spend together, but life just keeps getting in the way. Not an excuse I like to make, but it’s true. We still talk, we still see each other occasionally, we still call or text each other when we just really need to talk to someone. She is still my sister, and I am so glad I got to build that relationship with her that I didn’t get to have growing up.
Over the years I have lived here, she has helped me through financial tight spots, she has been there for me to cry on her shoulder, or to have a few drinks and vent. She watched Zander for us his whole first year of his life, and he still loves his Auntie and shares that special bond with her. She was my Maid of Honor at my wedding, she was there for the birth of Zander and the arrival of Kyrie. She has been my rock, my inspiration, my saving grace and my sister. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and I hope she always realizes this. (I actually didn’t intend for this blog to be all about her impact on my life, but as I started writing out my journey to getting there, I realized how much of it was all because of her. She deserves a whole book written for her, but for now a blog will have to do.)
Today, I am still learning how to love myself. Love who I am, accept who I was, and deal with mistakes that I have made. Having kids has really put my life into a different perspective, and I feel like some days I am so close to being there that all it will take is one more step. But I know I will always have to fight for that. It will be an ongoing battle for me. Will I have days where I am down? Yes. Will I pick myself up, dust myself off and kick my ass back into gear. HELL YEA I WILL! I am only human, but I am happy most days, I see myself in a new light, and although there will be occasional steps backwards, I’m