A Rather Rapid Journey Into My Future

“What are you going to do with all of the space that will open up in your mind as you heal?”

That question turned my life upside down. I laugh now, as I recall the way I first responded to the challenge. The day after my counselor posed that question in our first session, I decided, after a grand total of ten minutes of rather obsessive consideration, that it was time for me to return to school. I was not sure exactly what I wanted to study, but I felt sure that I wanted to work with people. To be properly equipped, I was going to need an education. Within a day or two, I had started calling universities.

Despite its rather impulsive nature, that decision proved to be one of the best I’ve ever made. I believe that some of the rapidity with which I fixed my path into the future was merely the reflection of my growing self-knowledge which had been forming for over a year of healing.

Over the next few months, I grew more and more certain of my desire to pursue an education. Within a few weeks of deciding to return to school, I chose counseling as my field of interest. I began voraciously scouring the Internet, using my iPhone, for information on a higher education in psychology and counseling. This effort was more significant than you may realize, since iPhones are not designed yet to provide all of the accessible conveniences that a computer screen-reading program affords to people with visual impairments.

At the same time that I was running full speed towards my future, I had to relive much of the past. My psychologist helped me identify the fact that I had skipped much of a normal growing-up experience, due to having a disability and a mental illness. I began to rush headlong through this delayed experience, much to my embarrassment on many occasions.

I can laugh, now, but some of my recent growing up has been frankly mortifying. Most people get to experience their first real crush, be socially awkward, and learn how to make better decisions by making rather not-so-good ones as teenagers. I have gotten to live through those experiences as a fully grown woman. I can personally testify to the fact that people are somewhat less understanding of these phenomena in an adult than in a teenager.

Meanwhile, my parents watched my “adolescence” in growing alarm. They were very supportive of my desire to return to school, but, when I announced that I wanted to find my own church, they were less enthused. I am puzzled to this day as to how they managed to verbally accept my decision as okay and yet make every aspect of that decision wrong or a battle in some way.

I started changing my ideas and thoughts secretly. I knew that my parents would not approve of the new-found freedom I was gaining inside my mind or of the mounting criticisms I entertained towards their treatment of my siblings and me. My father openly advocated the idea that independence was not an ideal state, for instance. My mother was more initially supportive of my process of finding myself, but she later felt that I had gone too far.

Meantime, I registered for a summer philosophy class at my local community college and enrolled at a Christian university for the fall. Little did I realize how dramatically my life was about to change in the next couple of months.

I will continue my story in my next post. How many of you were already familiar with the idea of a “delayed adolescence?” I’d be curious to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Join in the conversation.

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4 responses to “A Rather Rapid Journey Into My Future”

  1. Laedy G says :

    Been there, too! It’s so embarrassing to be 25 and experiencing heartbreak for the first time. Gah. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. thepathwaymakerThe Pathway Maker says :

    I know:) Sometimes growing up at the “wrong” age is the most awkward and painful experience possible, isn’t it?

  3. skinnyhobbit says :

    Delayed adolescence? Yes! It seems common among those escaping from Abusive religious denominations/families/cults. You’re not alone!

  4. Kati says :

    I did not grow up in a Christian home, but I did grow up in an extremely abusive situation (long story, don’t want to get into it here.) I experienced “arrested development” both physically and emotionally when I was a teenager. I did not reach my final height until well into my teens, and since I didn’t date at all during my teen years, when I started dating at age 20, I was like a teenager in the body of a 20-year-old. You’re definitely not alone on this one!

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