move [moov ] 1. change position: to change position or location, or change the position or location of something 2. change residence, job, or school: to change your place of residence, work, or study, or make somebody do this

My freshman year of high school, my dad’s boss let him go for spending too much time away from work during my sister’s illness. He was able to get a job in Arizona, my mom was seriously grieving, and I was somewhere in limbo. The “sand” continued to rub as I placed pressure on myself to do everything perfectly. I was my parents’ only child now. The only one to do things right. There was no one to come along behind me and do better. My sister was gone.

In the middle of my sophomore year, my mother and I joined my dad in Phoenix. I did not want to move to the desert at all. It was made worse, because I did not like high school. Actually, school in general was not my favorite. I did well, but had to study more than the rest of my friends. The compulsion to not mess up continued. I wanted to be perfect. Every time that I did not measure up to my standards, I felt beaten and worthless. It also did not help that I spoke with a southern accent. It was something that drew attention to me and made me sound ignorant.

At my new school, there was a flier posted about pom line auditions. This was much like a spirit line or dance team. My parents thought it would be a good way for me to make friends. We had taken dance classes before Amanda got sick. She and I loved to make up dances. It was those joyful memories that prodded me to try out. My confidence waivered when I saw the beautiful girls at the try out clinics. I feared being laughed at again. God’s crazy plan allowed me to make the pom line. There were twelve girls that danced and cheered at all of the football and basketball games. Many times were spent fooling around on the sidelines of games, practicing, and being busy all of the time. This saved me in high school from becoming lost or turning into a recluse.

My image of myself started to become an obsession. I wanted to be the smartest, prettiest, funniest, and most liked. The real me began to disappear under these pressures. My actions caused me to lose friends and hurt feelings. All of my efforts to fit in, caused me to not really fit in at all. The fragmented thoughts in my mind began to chip away at the real Jennifer. If I could go back to high school and be the real me, I would.

Toward the end of high school, my father took a job in New Jersey. My mom stayed in Phoenix with me until I graduated. I had already been accepted to the University of Arizona and had my dorm assignment. Many of my classmates also planned to go to Tucson for college. The potential to start a new chapter in my life was exciting. I hoped that it would be a time for me to develop deep friendships with those God placed in my life and actually feel like I belonged.

Fears began to creep up that I would be “left” on the west side of the country all alone. If I needed help, there would be no one to come to my rescue. My parents were all that connected me to life, so I decided to head for New Jersey with my parents. I declined my admission to the University of Arizona, and decided I would attend a college in New Jersey. Which university, I had not a clue.

The weekend after graduation, we loaded up the car and drove to New Jersey. This was far from the fabulous graduation trip that my classmates were having in Mexico. However, it was a memorable trip for us. We were in another state with another new address. It was our seventh state to live in, and I am not sure how many different apartments, condos, and houses we have lived total. All of the friends I had while living in Georgia had become a distant memory. It was too hard to send another “We’ve Moved” letter. This is another area that I should have been more diligent about. There were friends that I wish I had not let go.

My world kept changing so quickly. It seemed that as soon as my feet were planted, they slipped. My need to be in control started to consume me. I was not able to control where we lived, where I went to school, that I felt lonely, or afraid. My ability to make friends and keep them was poor. I had no long term friendships for me to learn from. I had become an only child when Amanda died. Siblings teach people how to relate and share with their peers. My understanding of my role in life was shaky. At that moment, I found a crutch that almost destroyed me. The one thing I could have control over was food. This was the beginning of an eating disorder that peppered my life for many years to come.

Lord forgive me. I did not know that my choices were going to affect so many people. You gave me many gifts that I hated and tried to change. I was made in your image, yet I tried to change that image. Forgive me for turning to food rather than you.



2 Comments on “Move

  1. Hey Jen, I just read this chapter, and it, in some ways makes me think of myself and my struggles with control (or lack of it) and my relationship with food and family stuff when I was younger. I don’t think I got the connection the first time I read your manuscript. Thank you for sharing this. I know many are reading along and seeing parallels in their own lives. Somehow being reminded that pain, weakness and loss in our lives can be formative, not deformative, and those situations allow the hand of God to mold us. Peace and love to you, dear friend!


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