Biology . a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.
This is the best definition of metamorphosis I could find and relate to. I have wanted to write about this for quite some time but never have been able to find the courage to share some of the details you are about to read.
As many of you know, September 2008, I lost the very first love of my life, my Mom. I know, I know, that probably sounds very strange to some of you, but you have to understand that my Mom was my rock. She was my everything! Having grown up as a semi-only child, she was the reason I am alive today, not only because she gave me life, but also because if it had not been for her, I am confident I would have eventually found the ‘bad’ kind of courage one needs to follow through with those intense suicidal ideations many people experience. WOW! Are you still with me? Did I shock you? I know for some of you that must TOTALLY come as a huge shock to you. Those of you who have known me for a long time or have only seen me during certain times or under certain circumstances, probably know the ‘sweet and innocent’ Julie, the one with the “bedroom blue eyes” and “smile that lights up a room.” What you don’t know is that I grew up as what I like to refer to as an “AB brat.” You’ve heard people referred to as a “military brat,” well, the “AB brat” is one who has endured the advantages and disadvantages of growing up in a time when a certain world reknown St. Louis based beer brewer allowed their employees to consume their ‘products’ while on the job. For me, this meant knowing my Dad would frequently come home with the smell of beer on him, that is, if he made it home that day and didn’t crash his truck . . . . . again. The effects of the beer in him will forever linger in my mind, as he frequently called me such names as “chubby” and told me that I was “fat, stupid, and ugly.” This unfortunately, was only the beginning of the patterns of abuse by men that I have let fill my mind with negative thoughts and feelings about myself. Let me tell you, these words left quite the footprint on a young child considering my Dad passed when I was 12 years old.
These negative feelings I let surround and encompass my life led to a long history of what included a diagnosis of “severe depression and severe anxiety.” As a nurse, these diagnoses hit me really hard. I mean, I knew I felt down in the dumps every now and then, but to have an actual clinical diagnosis, wow. To make a long story short (hahaha!), my hope is that this might explain to some of you some of my ill timed words and actions which may have caused harm in our relationship. For example (Monica, Beverly, Susan, Ric, Kaz - love you!), my not returning your phone calls, or making plans to do something and then canceling at the last minute. These actions were not, should not, and I hope that you never felt were reflective upon you. This was an example of the impact of the depression and anxiety had and still has on me. There were and are soooooooooooo many things that I wanted to do and still want to do, but somehow I was not able to find the courage for whatever reason to follow through. For some reason, I always find myself terrified when it comes to certain situations, why?, hell, if anyone knows, please share with me. So, instead of going through with things, it was always easier and more comfortable for me to take the ‘easy road’ for a lack of better words. I mean, even going to lunch alone a few years ago with two aunts that I completely adore (Joan & Judy), took every ounce of courage and strength I could muster to follow through and not back out of at the last minute. Why? These beautiful and kind women have been there for me for as long as I can remember, why would I or should I be so anxious about seeing them and being blessed to spend such desperately needed ‘girl time?’ My guess and all that I can attribute it to is it goes along with the depression and anxiety disease processes.
Anyways, enough about the boring stuff, huh? If you’re still with me and I hope you are, I hope you will continue reading because that’s not why I decided to become a ‘blogger.’ Since August of last year, I have been blessed to go on two very different retreats. One retreat was of the Catholic faith based which can be put on by lots of people and the other, well, let’s just say, it was like nothing I have ever experienced before. The second retreat, was what is described as on the Brave Girls Club website as follows:
“Brave Girls Club is a worldwide community of women who want to live the best, happiest, most productive and fabulously brave life they can possibly live…and that means something different to every single one of us.”
I was fortunate enough to attend a Brave Girl Camp October 2010 and it has literally changed my life! I will tell you more about camp on a later post, but I promised a very dear friend (Lynda – love you!) that I would get something posted this weekend. The women I met on this retreat have made such a huge, huge impact on my life since those days in McCall, Idaho. I do not think any one of them, especially the founders of Brave Girls Club, Melody Ross and Kathy Wilkins, have absolutely any idea how much they have changed my life – for the better. I have been literally speechless as how to describe this experience since that time, so bear with me and I will share that with you also. Through these women (and the help of my favorite sister and niece in Virginia), I have learned that I am not “fat, stupid, nor ugly,” that I do have but one life to live and as a fellow Brave Girl Alum (Margie-kiss*kiss!) told me --- that I “need to live and honor my mother,” and that maybe I DO have something to offer to someone, somewhere, and sometime, that maybe my lonely and desperate life IS worth living. Since going on these two retreats last year, for the first time in a very, very long time, especially since the passing of my Mom, my thoughts and prayers before I go to sleep every night are filled with ‘hope’ that I do wake in the morning, with ‘hope’ to live another day, even if it is just to give someone who is having a bad or lonely day one of my famous “Julianne smiles” as my husband, Sean, calls it, and to love and serve my Lord, Jesus Christ and His children.
Okay, wake up! Are you still there? Nudge, nudge!
SO. Here is where you come in. Here is where I need your help. Some may call this as my way of reaching out (thank you Kathy!). Every day I continue to take my depression and anxiety medications, but there is no cure and these drugs only help to decrease the symptoms I have. The wonderful and beautiful women I met at Brave Girl Camp showed me that I am a woman; I am worthy of another’s love and not the abusive and negative background that I grew up in. They showed me things and loved me, some, as if I was their own little sister, and some, as if I was their own daughter, or more fondly called their “daughter from another mother” (love you Terry, Jayne, Marianne!) and have blessed me in ways I never, ever would have imagined!!! I have been desperately working on improving my thoughts, my actions, my entire attitude about everything, particularly my life in general. This is what I meant by posting on Facebook recently that “I’m coming out!” My favorite sister and niece in Virginia (love you girls!) have told me that I am “finally coming out of my shell.” One of my Brave Girl sisters told me that I “stole her heart” (love you Patrice!). Some of these things I’m not really sure what the meanings are because I have never been told such kind things. Then there are some of these women who leave me ‘love notes’ on Facebook that have absolutely no idea how much it means to me that they took the time out of their busy day and lives to let me know they care and haven’t forgotten me. These are feelings that I have not known since my Mom’s passing nearly three years ago. Since her passing, I have felt soooooooooooo completely and utterly lost, alone, and confused. It’s like as if I didn’t live the life of a recluse then, it seemed to only worsen since that time. I need your help to keep this ‘new attitude’ I have recently learned (thank you Melody!). I have also realized after all these years, with the help of my Brave Girl sisters, that although I do have the diagnoses of “severe depression and severe anxiety,” that my life and hopefully my relationships will eventually be “better for it” (love you Kolleen!).
Well, I guess I’ve bored you enough with my first blog post. I would love to hear from you! You are all in my daily thoughts and prayers. If I have offended anyone by anything I have written, I will ask for your forgiveness, because harm towards anyone was not my intention by writing this. I hope you will continue to read my progress with this and the ‘metamorphosis,’ I am experiencing and that you are so much a big part of. Brave Girls ----- I love you with all my heart and SOUL!!!!!