Here it goes. This is me. Real. Raw. And no apologies.
Some of you might abandon me mid-post, and that’s okay. Because this is wordy.
I’ve never even talked this much. Honest. Internal processors unite!
I heard someone say once that what is ordinary to us is actually extraordinary to others. I think that’s why there has been such a huge boom in media of people letting others in on their everyday messes, heartbreaks, joys, adventures, and personal stories. People are drawn to life experiences that come from others because it brings a sense of “me too, it’s not just you.” And humans long for connection with other humans.
So here it is. My story – and I have to be honest: it feels completely ordinary.
The first 10 and a half years of my life were spent going to a small school and a small church in a tiny little town in West Texas. Let me give you an idea as to how small: Everyone always said about Kress “Don’t blink when you pass through or you’ll miss it!” If I had a dollar…
My dad farmed until I was about 5, was a high school football coach and math teacher. My mom was a hairdresser with a shop attached to the side of our house. It doesn’t get more small-town than that. With two older sisters and one little brother, summers were never dull.
Shoutout to the Schwan’s man for winning the day by having Bomb Pops and ice cream sandwiches! I can still feel the red and blue popsicle juice melting down my hand as a kid. So sticky. So yum.
I survived through school so I could get to summer; it was a time I remember feeling particularly free. We never ran out of things to do, especially when you consider that my mom had all 4 of us in 5 years. Yikes. Looking back at photos during those 5 years there was not one picture of my mom where she wasn’t pregnant! She’s crazy. Being that close in age and having the same senses of adventure, our imaginations served us well. Bike rides were an everyday occurrence – just a few muscle-y legged kids with great tans riding around the town. We thought we were the coolest.
But my mom, if you know her you’ll find this to be true, was created to be a mom! She was, and is, so good at it. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis before she married my dad. Her doctor advised her not to have kids, and well… you saw how that turned out. My mom is by far the most incredible, strong-willed, likable, and kind woman I have ever known. She was my matron of honor in our wedding. My mom is my best friend.
Her health digressed pretty quickly. She was walking fine one day, then I noticed a little limp, then she was using a cane, and then a walker… After a while, anytime I heard a THUD or a BOOM my mind immediately went to the thought “Mom fell!” Everyone would rush into the room at once and assess the situation. Sometimes she just dropped something and it sounded dreadful, but other times… there were broken bones, huge gashes, concussions, dislocated ribs, you name it. I’m not trying to gain your pity – I’m just telling it like it happened.
Growing up in a home where sickness is common changes the way you view the world. I remember giving a persuasive speech (a very bad speech) in college about how inconsiderate it is to park in handicapped spaces when you have no real health problems. I saw firsthand how difficult it was for my mom to simply walk from her car to get a scooter at the door of the grocery store. It was basically one long rant, I don’t know if I actually made any real arguments other than “JUST DON’T DO IT, OKAY.”
I think I got a C. What can I say, speeches are not my forte.
Junior High and High School feel like such a blur to me now… I went to a private Christian school and that world was very small. I was awkward and had a lot of bad hairdos and outfit choices.
Most of what I can tell you about those days is that I was wildly insecure and shy. I got my heart broken a few times and then did a little damage, myself. Blah blah blah. I didn’t know who I was and I remember a couple of times entertaining the idea “It wouldn’t be such a big deal if I just suddenly wasn’t alive anymore.” I had a lot of emotions and no idea how to handle them.
But can I just say, if that’s you and it’s where you’re at… It would be a big deal. A tragedy, in fact. And people would miss you.
I went to a small college where I didn’t feel like I belonged. That’s just the truth. But can I be honest here? I didn’t try to belong.
Brene Brown said it this way: “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
DING DING DING.
I didn’t allow myself to be seen by others because I couldn’t bear the thought of being that exposed to a group of people. I wasn’t big on liking who I was the first 2-3 years of college. That came later.
I spent way too many nights closed up in my dorm room watching Gilmore Girls and eating Honeycrisp apples with gouda cheese. *Oy with the poodles already!*
(I don’t understand my obsession with those two things together, but let me tell ya… Delish.)
I was an art major, and artists have their own “group” right? Well yes, they did. And I wasn’t a part of it. Not because I was excluded. It was largely because I didn’t ask to be a part of it. I went to class, drew my drawings, painted my paintings, and kept my headphones in pretty much the whole time listening to unpopular Indie music that made me feeeel, ya know? Of course, I thought I was tapping into some kind of genius art flow. But really, I was just being subtly dramatic.
No effort. At all.
If I could go back I would stick my neck out a little more and say hi to people, invite myself to things, and actually instigate conversations rather than spending time alone.
I was in class one day, and a guy that sat behind me said, “Hey. How come I always see you by yourself? Do you not hang out with anyone?”
I’m not making this up. It happened. And I cried.
Then I did nothing about it.
College senior Audrey turned out to be much different than the Audrey you see in my first 3 years. But this post is getting too long, like 500 words ago… So I’m wrapping it up.
Maybe I’ll do a sequel. “Part 2: Life After Pity Parties”
Thanks for sticking with me, as painfully dull as it may have gotten. You’re the real MVP.
1171 words is actually quite a lot to read about someone else’s life.