by Christine Thackeray
It is amazing how we are "guided" to some people. I recently moved to Oregon and within a few weeks felt comfortable with a circle of new friends. But then this woman who seldom comes to church accosted me in the grocery store. I had been wanting to go walking and she mentioned it and before long we began walking together every morning. It was an odd match because our backgrounds and personalities were as different as two could be, but we have become the best of friends- I just love her. We really exercise our jaws as much as our legs every morning and laugh that we have become each other's therapists.
One morning I was telling her about an old friend that I had met unexpectedly. I honestly felt like I had been guided to find her. That's when Sonja laughed and told me how we really met. That morning that I was shopping, she had noticed me almost an hour before we spoke but didn't want to talk to me. She thought I was one of those perfect "Molly Mormons" and tried to stay out of my way, but every time she would turn down another aisle I would be there. She said that she even tried to go out of order and I was still there. Finally she said to herself, "Okay, Heavenly Father, I'll talk to her once, but that's it." Now we see each other every morning and it's great.
Meeting Sandra was like that for me. I recently started a blog and often check my few comments. Sandra visited and left a brief note but something in it touched me. When I checked her profile, I was really impressed- and then I read this blog and really wanted to be part of it. I'm so looking forward to getting to know Sandra better and to sharing my experiences in facing challenges, healing from emotional and systemic physical wounds, clarifying the extent of our personal power for change and sometimes simply surviving until "the thorn in our side" is removed.
Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'll tell you a little about me. I grew up in a loving home. My parents had twelve children and I was in the middle. I had an older brother who tortured me with the typical annoyances of an older brother, nothing horrible, but hurtful. As a teenager we moved to a ward where I was blacklisted partly because my brother didn't want me going to the same parties as him and partly because I had become friends with a girl whose best friend was terribly jealous. When my only friend moved away, I spent the next two years as the brunt of everyone's jokes at church and it still hurts to think of it. We moved but the family of the girl that had been so unkind moved down the street. We were civil and spent a lot of time together but it was difficult. When I got ready to go to BYU, her mother came to me and begged me to be her roommate. I felt obligated to say yes (AHHH! I was a total spineless victim- never be that!) Within a few weeks everyone on the floor of our dorm thought I was Methusala based on the gossip sessions of my roommate and I flunked out of my first year of school.
The saddest part is that I think I brought out the worst in a wonderful girl. It is like when you meet a child that is really ticklish and has a funny laugh, so you love to tickle them because the response is so satisfying. But if you tickle them too much, it is torture. Well, I think I had too many irresistable buttons that upset me and it was so easy to get a response that neither one of us improved by our relationship together.
What is tragic is that the emotional injury of that relationship haunted me for years. I always felt that no one really accepted me and were saying things behind my back because for so many years they were. I always related to the abused and outcasts because that is how I identified myself. And the worst part is that my parents thought those feelings were ridiculous because I had been raised in a wonderful, happy family and been given every privilege.
Today I'm grateful. My heart is filled with empathy and my life is filled with joy. I married a Rancher turned Engineer who is my emotional rock and puts up with all my quirks. He endures the laundry mountains and dirty dishes that get stacked up because I choose to fill my life with creative pursuits or silly expeditions. But with all of that, the Lord keeps sending me challenges. I've had to deal with loss, grief and numerous health issues like CMV, PFS (bad knees), chronic fatigue and fibro myalgia. Yuck. Through friends and those I've served I have been deeply involved with anxiety, depression, suicide, severe abuse and addiction.
So women's health issues have become my hobby and I had hoped my post-baby career. I planned on attending medical school as soon as my youngest went to kindergarten but got called as Relief Society President the day I enrolled in pre-requisite classes. Then I moved and got a part-time job at a local university so I could get free tuition as I pursued my doctorate in Psych, but again I went to the temple the day before I was to begin and felt black inside. When I told Greg, my husband, he encouraged me to listen to the Spirit. I quit and a few days later my sister approached me with a manuscript she was working on. I editted it and it was accepted for publication. She convinced me to send in an old novel that I had given up on and it was accepted too. So I suppose this new path was meant to be and that path has taken me here.
Sandra, I'm thrilled with the opportunity and can't wait to meet all of you.