Finding Myself

Sit back and let me tell you what it's like to live a double life. A double life to please someone else. 15 years of it. This is going to be long. So grab a good spot to sit and a beverage.

This is an open and honest blog. It is not edited, I sat down and wrote from my heart until I felt like I was done. There are more than likely tons of typos but I am leaving it. Ha. It may not make sense to everyone and that's ok. I may elaborate on some parts of this in other posts. This as long as it is, is just a summary.

Let me start by saying I am not bad mouthing anyone nor talking shit. I expect you to do the same. I am healing and this (writing) is part of the process for me. I am simply sharing my knowledge. Yes I will be leaving some things out. It's either nobody's business, I am not ready to talk about it or it's not my place to tell.

Also this is just my point of view. These are the feelings I felt at the time.


Everyone knows I am your ride or die in any type of relationship. Let me in and I will be your biggest supporter, as long as you are not hurting yourself. I will tell you like it is. Need me to cover for you? I got you. Need to hide a body, I got you. Seriously. I will do anything for the ones I love. 


But something changed that in me.  


I always felt in a relationship you don’t have to like the same music, movies, hobbies or even holidays. You should continue to be you and vice versa. There will be common ground somewhere, you just have to work to find it. 


But something changed that in me. 


In 2004 I left home for the Marine Corp. 3 of my very best friends were coming with me, 2 right after me and one a few months later. My 4th bestie was not interested in the military and that was ok. 


In June I left thinking all the plans we had made were unbreakable. Everyone was going to be right behind me and we were going to travel the world together. Naive, I know. But at 18 years old you know no better. 


Summer of 05 rolls around and only two of my best friends show up. 


Only one of my besties stuck beside me, she seemed to be the only one to care. The second I had a fight of sorts with and I seriously just reconciled with him. Yes 16 years later.  My 3rd never showed nor did I hear anything from or about him until a few months ago. Yep 17 years later. Like I said above nobody's fault, this is what I was feeling at the time. 


The end of summer came and I was depressed. Plans had failed. I started to think that maybe some of these plans or relationships I created in my head. And they were not real. So I spent alot of time ‘running around’ and doing things that were not in my character. Things like drinking, sneaking out and you get the picture. I used these things to cover up my feelings. 


I soon started to have female issues again. Those that have known me since High School know I get ovarian cysts pretty bad. I am talking your ovary should be the size of a walnut and my cysts would swell it to the size of an avocado. So to the doctor I went. Come fall of 05 I was having surgery because they suspected more than just cysts. I found out that I produce ALOT of eggs, more than normal. After the surgery I was told that the cysts had done alot of damage and I had endometriosis in the early stages. I was told I needed to have kids now if I wanted them. I was 19 y’all. My depression got worse. 


I wanted two things in life. To be a Marine. And kids. Lots of kids. 


During this time I made a friend that I felt I could confide in. He ended up knowing everything about me and everything about the people I knew. This friend and I had alot in common. Or so we thought, I think we made some of it up. After a while I felt he was the only one I could trust. I was hurt from my plans not working out. I was hurt that two of my best friends wanted nothing to do with me. I was especially hurt that one was nowhere to be found (not his fault). So I did the only logical thing I felt at the time and jumped head first into this new relationship. A relationship I knew deep down I did not want. 


At the beginning of 06 I left for another school the Marine Corp wanted me to attend. I was newly engaged, set to be married in a few months. I was happy because I was ignoring all of my other problems and covering them up with this new one I was slowly creating. 


During this time every womans worst nightmare started. I had my first stalker. Nobody believed me because of who they thought I was. For those of you not familiar with shit that goes on in the Marines, being a Female Marine no matter who you are or how you act causes you to carry a certain reputation. And because of that it's your fault when something like this happens. It started off harmless I guess. Until my roommate at the time started helping him stalk me because she liked his friend. She was sending him pictures behind my back. Sent him my MySpace account. And was inviting him to outings when It was supposed to be only the two of us. There's more but I do not want to elaborate.


During all this I found out I was pregnant! We were overjoyed but things quickly turned south because of the stalker. Some other douche from my unit was at school with me and spreading lies. I got no help with the situation because nobody believed me. Word quickly got back to my command, but of course it was not the truth. I had no one to confide in or help me. 


One night my roommate let this stalker and his friend into our room. Luckily my bed was right beside the door and the only person in my command who I could get to believe me was on duty. What happened after he remedied the situation was a blur because in just a few hours I was rushed to the hospital. I was severely dehydrated, pregnant, emaciated and stressed. I was so sick that they kept me for a while and sent me back on several meds with several follow ups and on bedrest. Luckily for me and my child things got better. My roommate and the stalker were both dealt with and disappeared. I asked no questions. I was happy to be free from a really terrifying situation. With the stress gone I was able to get well and healthy. I had the perfect pregnancy afterwards. 


My relationship suffered from this so much that we were not able to get married when we wanted and we were not even speaking to eachother… I finished school, went back to my command where I attended another school, fixed my relationship and got orders to a new command a few months later where I could start my life with my new husband and child. 


After this mess as you can imagine that relationship still suffered. There was no trust on either side. This caused alot of problems, abuse and hurt feelings on both sides. Everything I did I felt like it irritated him. So I quit being me. 


Alot happened the next year in 07. In April of that year one of my best friends and someone I considered a little sister died tragically. I was never able to cope and deal with that in a healthy way. A month later I reenlisted for my second term. The next month I found out I was pregnant with our second child, which was a miracle in itself. And I got to finally go home to visit for the first time since 04. I stayed busy so I could continue to ignore my problems.


The visit was way too short. I was sick as a dog because of being in the first trimester. My husband did not seem to get along with much of my family. And to top it all off my 3rd best friend showed up unannounced. Nobody knew but my sister and I. I had her go outside and send him away because I could not face him. I turned my very best friend in the world away because one I was hurt, why did he not follow through with our plans? And two I was scared of what my husband would say if he noticed he was there. I had confided in him years ago deep secrets about this person.


The real problems started once we left. Depression really set in. I was sick the entire pregnancy and nothing the doctors did helped. I delivered our baby almost 5 weeks early in early 08. It was a horrific experience. So much so that I will not go into detail. It really took a toll on me mentally and my marriage. During this trying time my husbands grandma died. He told me she was his soulmate. I was devastated to hear that.


These things changed me. I left everything about myself behind to become his soulmate. I quit listening to music I liked. I dressed differently because I felt like a slut. I acted differently because I was weird. I quit talking to people because I felt like I could not have friends.  I was different. I started suppressing Stephanie and became someone I didn’t know. This still did not help our relationship. 


He started to bring up things and people I had confided in him about to win arguments. Or to make me feel bad I guess. Things would get violent and out of hands on both sides. So we both just stopped communicating. We thought ignoring the problems would help. Like we never talked and when we did we fought. 


I started having back problems during the 2d pregnancy and the doctor who did my epidural against my will botched it. I spent the second half of 08 with a personal trainer ignoring my back pain. And ignoring the fact that I was no longer Stephanie by working myself to death to get in shape. I was put on the manning doc and preparing to deploy as a 22 year old mother with 2 kids. 


In 09 the pain got so bad that I had to go see a doctor. I was pulled from deploying. That doctor put me in Sport Med, gave me bogus exercises to do and put me on Effexor and Ambien. I started taking the meds and spent the next almost year of my life high as a kite. I was baked 24/7.  I had no care in the world because I was incapable of having them. I was 140lbs and on enough Effexor to take out a 500lb person. Seriously. That was on top of the Ambien, Mobic and some other drug that I never really knew what it was for.  He would not adjust my dosages, said I needed to get used to them, so I followed orders like I was supposed to. I continued taking it because it took away the pain I had experienced since I left home. I did not pay attention to what it was doing to my current life. The pain from before and whatever was happening then was gone. Every feeling was gone. I was a zombie. I started to forget everything that had happened in my life up to that point. But I was not making new memories either. I cannot tell you what my second child's first words were nor when he started walking. I was there for it but not present because I was drugged. 


Eventually the euphoria of that faded and I came to the realization of what was happening to me being on all those meds. I wanted off them, but my husband said he liked me this way because we were getting along. So I continued. Until we started getting into fights because I had no emotions at all when it came to anything. 


By this point I was already on my second limited duty with no answers for my back. Everyone was deployed on base and it left people like me behind with health issues to run everything. I was on limited duty but not really because I had Marines to train. Eventually deployments came back at the end of 2010 but I was now at the end of my second limited duty with no answers. Luckily, I was approved for a third at the beginning of 2011 but that meant I only had 6 months to figure out what the hell was wrong or my chances of staying in were zero. All I ever wanted to be was a Marine this could NOT happen! I flushed the shit, all of the meds and told my doctor what I did. He took that as me being non-compliant, took me off limited duty and sent me back to full duty. I stuck it out for a few months until I got to where I could not walk so went back to medical and finally got a new doctor since everyone was back from deployment. I was finally getting help, then I got called for deployment again… My doctor said there was no way I could go in the shape I was in, I only had a year and a half left and the only option was separation. Still with no answers. I could not deploy and endanger my Marines with my injuries. So I listened and took the separation. 


This really changed me. I felt useless. The only thing in life I was good at was taken from me. I was born to be a Marine. The only thing I had left in my life that was Stephanie was gone. 


At the end of 2011 we went home, home for me anyways, to Texas. Things were not what I thought they would be. I was now a stay at home mom to two kids under 4. I had to put our oldest into PreK which was rough, as it is for any parent. I soon started college to help bring in money from my GI Bill. It was too much being a stay at home mom, going to college and juggling living with my mom and grandma who needed help. My sisters both had their lives and all my friends were MIA. I really cannot tell you what all went on between getting home and May of 2013 besides that one sister got married and the other graduated from college. 


During that year and a half I kept my mouth shut, head down and continued to suppress who I was. It was even harder being home. I would see people I knew and I would act like I did not know them to keep the peace. When my sisters did come over I would not act like you think one would. I know they saw it. I know everyone saw it but nobody said anything. 


In May of 2013 we were hit by a tornado. The whole neighborhood was gone. We all survived physically fine. But mentally none of us were the same. Eventually my husband, kids and I had nowhere to go. I was told my only option was to come to NC where we had a place to go and the hope for a better life. 


Once I got here my depression got really bad. Any traces of the old Stephanie only came out once a year when my sister visited and quickly left when she did. 


My husband and I rarely talked. He worked and made the money. And I continued to go to school, be an at home mom and handle everything except the riding mowing and working. I started a business right before the tornado that I continued to try to improve during this time. 

In 2014 the most important person in my life died. My Aunt Nancy. She was the only thing that kept me going through all of this and the only person I felt I could confide in about alot of my feelings. She was the only one who truly understood and ALWAYS came from a place of love and wisdom when she gave advice. This broke what was left of me. 


My husband started picking up random hobbies to cover up his stress and depression from the marriage. Soon he started involving us in them to try to help the relationship. Again we kept busy to cover up the fact that we never should have been in this relationship to begin with. In 2018 we bought a house thinking that would change things. We then picked up more and more hobbies which only caused more and more stress. 


With all the stress over the years came weight. I was over 240lbs the last time I dared step on a scale. I know I got up to over 260 at one point. I was having weird pains. I could barely walk without heaving for air. And my back hurt. Boy did my back hurt all the time. Everything ached. I tried to exercise and diet to no avail. I only kept gaining. 


With all the stress over the years I quit talking to everybody. And I mean everybody. I disappeared for years. I could not deal with other people's problems or even be bothered with the strength it took to talk to them.


With all the stress and other events came memory loss. I concealed any and everything about Stephanie or anything bad that happened during my marriage. 


Then COVID happened. I had just finished school and started to focus on my business and got into a good groove when boom, kids had to be homeschooled. All the hobbies we were finally enjoying like Warhammer and Pokemon ended. This did me in. I was to the point where I thought I was bipolar. I was having to deal with everything while continuing to be someone I wasn’t and holding down all these hobbies. We dropped a few hobbies but still something was wrong. I seriously considered having my husband commit me. I was prepared to go spend some time at the hospital to figure out what was wrong with me. I was broken. I was done with everything.


At the beginning of this year, 2021, we got COVID. I was sick for 23 days. It was awful and I guess that was the last straw for both of us so to speak. After I was better my husband left me. At first I was devastated. I was scared what was I going to do with two teen boys, no license and no job? The old independent Stephanie was gone. I had no clue how to survive on my own. I had no clue period.


Eventually after he was gone for a few weeks I realized I felt better. Not just physically but mentally. My clothes were fitting again. I realized I was not Stephanie at all and I hated the person I became. Why did I feel the need to change everything about myself for one person? Why did I do it for 15 years? I did it to please another person.


Stephanie never would have done that. Wake up girl. 


And so I did. I woke up and remembered who the hell I was. 


I started talking to people again including my best friend who didn’t want to join the military. We talk daily now, most of the time over FaceTime. She is there anytime I need to talk even when she is at work. I love you to the moon girl. 


I reached out to my friend I was fighting with, with a good push from his wife, the only friend I felt I had in 05. Come to find out we are both just idiots. We are besties again and I will get to see him, his wife and their four kids later this year. These two have helped me get through the past few months even through their hardships. I love you guys more than you will ever know. 


I reached out to my friend who never showed up all those years ago and found out the truth. What happened was out of his control. And we are BFFs again like we never lost 17 years. Anytime I need him he is there as always. I will not lose him again. I love you with all my heart. 


I reached out to alot of my friends whom I have ignored for years. Despite me abandoning them, they are here for me. Many of them check in on me daily. For that I thank you all. 


I have gained allies I never knew I had. And they root for me daily. I have gained allies I never thought in a million years. One of which has helped me tremendously. 


My boys and I have had the most amazing spring and summer. They are getting to know the real me and we have been having a blast playing on the slip and slide, singing and dancing all day and staying outside into the late hours playing laser tag. We started our summer with Camp Crystal lake in the back yard with tents, t-shirts and everything. We have been living it up every chance we can. 


We got to go home to Texas this summer. I got to see my sisters and my nieces. I got to see my mom, family and my dad. I got to see my best friend and my BFF. We went camping, swimming, and to Six Flags. We played in the water, went to the pool and park and had water balloon fights. Had a sleepover every night. We did everything you would expect to do over the summer for the first time in our lives together. We got to spend quality time with everyone even though it was short. Too short. 


It was hard leaving this time knowing my BFF was not coming behind me like he was supposed to all those years ago. Really hard. It was hard leaving because in 17 years this was the first time I felt like I was HOME. This was the first time I had felt safe. It was hard to leave my sisters and nieces. It was hard leaving everyone. It was hard leaving home. 


I left Texas home and lovesick.


But I came back to NC with new goals, a new mindset and new perspective on life.


I got my license and a job! I am now independent and no longer scared. 


A lot of people in my position feel like they have lost everything. But me? I feel like I have gained everything. There is hope. 


I am no longer struggling to survive, I am thriving. Stephanie is back.

2 comments

  • You are a rockstar, 100%. You are a survivor, a warrior, and a badass mom. Someone once told me that life’s wisdom and your souls inner peace would find you when you turn 30. They described it as a switch being flipped. That you feel and become the true person you’re supposed to be. I don’t think age has anything to do with it. I think we all come into our own in our own time. And you my dear sweet friend have found yourself. Not your teenage self, not your married self, not the person you thought you’d become…. but your TRUE self that you are meant to be. I love you to pieces.

    Amber
  • Steph you are amazing! I really enjoyed the time we got to spend with you and the boys! I LOVE YALL!! can’t wait to see you again!

    Rhonda Walker

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