Growing up, pretending was my go-to coping mechanism. I remember vividly being 12 years old and moving for the third time. The anger and hurt welled up inside me, but on the outside I pretended to be this happy go lucky girl. My “I don’t care” attitude got me into situations that I didn’t know how to handle…and the spiraling had begun.

It was like there were two conflicting sides of me. On one side was this academically inclined, athletic girl who was an All-State basketball player and the Salutatorian of her class. The other side was a reckless diva who ran away from home twice, thought underage drinking was the only weekend entertainment, and having a boyfriend was required.

As I became an adult and mother, I thought “dealing” with my past meant pretending I was over it. I acted as though it was a distant memory, and any effects were character flaws that I needed to hide. It was about pretending everything was now okay, and if I did that hard and long enough eventually everything would work out.

Unfortunately, I had not realized that pretending and healing were two totally different things. Even at times when I was doing the “right” things: going to church, praying, going to counseling, and reading self-help books. I was trying to gloss over the past; like picking up a house hoping no one sees the dust. I needed a deep cleaning: true healing.

It took a decade to really understand this concept, and I am hoping I can save someone years by telling my story.

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