College is a time for self-exploration. Truly, your entire life is "time for self-exploration". But something about living on your own for the first time makes this especially true. My first year of college shocked my system a bit. After coming from such a sheltered home it was strange that I had the ability to do whatever I wanted, with whoever I wanted to, whenever I chose to. The concept baffled me. The news on the television my first night told me of a crime that had happened that day in Miami. "Miami?" I thought. I was no longer living in my home in Orlando...it hit me then that I was on my own.
I don't have many distinct memories of that year. My high school boyfriend and I decided to continue into a long distance relationship. We text throughout the entire day and talked for hours every night. I also joined the community council of my building; having a say in what events would be held for the students of my building. We hosted a haunted house, carnival-like nights and a Q&A with our school sex counselor. The school year came and went, and reluctantly, I went home, like most students did, for the summer.
On the boyfriend side, my summer was amazing. He is a local Orlando artist, so I sat in the studio for hours listening to him record and rehearse. On occasion we would write together and during that summer we actually produced a professionally done music video- a duet that we put on Youtube. However, at home I received the same persecution I had before leaving. Tight curfews, accusations of sexual activity, and overall disbelief that I could spend entire days in a studio. But we actually did! The fights between my parents at this time had gotten worse. My dad's faithfulness to their marriage was also on the table. Nights were often filled with constant bickering. The cops were in our house more than once over their disputes that summer. By the time the fall semester came around I was ready to leave, and again I promised myself, never again will I move back.
That time I was serious.
After my sophomore year of college, I decided to take classes and work over the summer, staying in Boca. That summer my mother filed for divorce and my boyfriend of 3+ years decided that he wanted something different for his life, and ended our relationship. My entire world came tumbling down. I felt that two most important men in my life had deserted me. To say I was hurt was an understatement. In my junior year I risked getting kicked out of university because my grades had slipped so much and I overbooked myself with activities. I lived in denial, thinking that my relationship would bounce back and that my parents would have a civil divorce. Everything hurt. Every. Single. Day.
During my last two years of college, I battled with deep depression and anxiety. You never would have known it if you knew me. I was known to have a smile of my face and a calm demeanor. I tired my best to act as if I had everything together. I will say, I found Jesus like I never before had in that year. My bible and church services became my therapy. I memorized Philippians 5:6-7 and repeated it when I felt a panic attack coming up, until I felt it subside. Sometimes when we go through things and overtime the pain fades...it doesn't mean that the hurt is gone. In my case, I had simply learned how to cope. The hurt had been pushed deep down and I carried it with me.
I decided not to walk in graduation. I didn't want to be the reason my parents saw each other, as they had not (and still have not) seen each other since the divorce. Instead I flew out to Colorado to spend some much needed quality time with my grandparents. Spending those weeks with them was everything that my soul needed. A loving home that didn't set impossible standards or expectations. Instead they loved me, made me feel special and celebrated the individual that I am.
This is where Tyler comes in.
Early on in our relationship he experienced one of my panic attacks first hand. No one in my life ever has. He recommended that I seek therapy to work out what was eating away at my soul. I didn't do so immediately, but eventually, I took him up on his advice, talked to a parent in my preschool class who is a therapist and got a recommendation for Ellen.