Pictures of me as a little kid are really cute – curly blond hair, a quick smile and eyes always looking for the next adventure. I had the confidence that comes from knowing you are truly loved. I had a storybook childhood and it showed.
But I didn’t stay that way.
Around grade 6, I became the kid everyone picked on. By high school there was a group of guys who told me I was stupid and ugly every single day. I believed them.
It is amazing what you accept as truth when you hear it enough times. As my confidence faltered and my self-esteem withered away, I stopped talking. I dreaded lunch hour, never stepped foot inside the cafeteria and the thought of class presentations literally made me sick. I stopped smiling altogether. They tell me I went a whole year and never smiled once.
My whole life revolved around being as invisible as possible. I thought that I couldn’t get hurt if everyone forgot I was there. I was too afraid to talk to my parents about it, even though we were close. I was convinced that there was no way out. I had to go to school. I was so afraid, so hurt, so confused and so lonely that I began planning my suicide.
The best explanation of suicide comes from Dr. David Conroy: “Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” Now I can see that there were other options, but back then the pain blocked out everything else – even the people who loved me.
I had decided on the mechanics of how I was going to end my life, when I had a dream. I could see myself in one room and what I had done. At the same time I could see my mom, standing on the other side of the locked door pounding on it, weeping. In the dream I started to talk, to bargain, and this other voice said simply, “it’s too late.” I woke up and suicide didn’t feel like an option anymore, but I was still in so much pain.
Back at school, things did not improve. Halfway through grade 11, I transferred to a different high school in a desperate attempt to get away. The insults stopped but I still had to face myself; a change of scene wasn’t going to fix that. The following summer I attended a conference with the youth group from my church and found answers in the last place I would have expected.
At the conference I came to realize that God loves me very, very much. I matter to God. He is in the details of my life, even when I try to hide. This knowledge gave me value, and in beginning to accept that God loved me, I could start to see the other people who loved me too. It gave me a foundation to build on and the healing process began.
During my second year of university, I came across the verse in the Bible that is now my favorite. It reads, “I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:9,10).
The truth is simple. We are all the walking wounded; some scars are just easier to see. It’s not an easy thing to say “I need a Savior,” but I did. I still do. In the Bible, it says that Jesus came to make all things new.
I smile a lot now – I guess I’m still making up for that one silent year. I no longer walk around with my eyes on the floor. I am still learning, but I am no longer a danger to myself. My mom tells me that I remind her of this little girl she used to know with curly blond hair, a quick smile and a glint of adventure in her eyes.
The time I spent with my father throughout my childhood is mostly an angry blur of yelling and crying.
Olivia discovers that only God can satisfy her need for love.
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