Exposed: The Early Years

We all have a story. I feel like I’ve been telling my story more often over the last year or so, whether through community group, with friends, or through mentorships. I don’t plan to just share my photography journey, although there will be bits and pieces because it is a big part of my story after college. But, I plan to share my true life story. All that I’ve walked through, the tough and the triumphant, because there’s power in sharing.

My hope is this new little series does a few things for me. I hope that it gives freedom in some parts of my life, because I’ve found that the more I share, the more space there is for someone else to say “me too.” I hope that it shows that we don’t always know exactly what’s going on behind the pretty posts, at home, or how someone is truly feeling even when they seem fine. I also hope that it just gives you a new little glimpse into what makes me, me.

So here we go!

Let’s start from the beginning. I was born on May 27, 1991 in Lexington, South Carolina. At the time, my mom and dad were married and were excited to welcome a new baby girl into the world. Not too long after, about 2 years later, my dad decided to leave us. I know that is going to sting if he reads this, but that’s how I’ve always pictured it. Not a graceful walk away, but a turn away. My mom has been a single parent ever since, and truth be told, she deserves every type of award there is. As I see some of our friends & family walk through being new parents, it’s tough, it is a full time job. Thinking back to how she did all of it on her own absolutely amazes me.

Since my mom was a single parent, she worked multiple jobs to give me absolutely everything I ever needed. I went into daycare very young, as early as you can go, so that she could go back to work to fully provide for us. Daycare has some of my most vivid memories from this time in my life. Here, I had my best friends, my favorite teachers, and my favorite caretakers. To this day, I still love some of the women who took care of me & treated me like one of their own. I went everyday until I was about 10 years old & I still keep in touch with some of the kids I went there with. During these years, I loved dance & started tap dancing and clogging like many little girls do. After a few years of dance, I transitioned to gymnastics and became obsessed, I absolutely loved it.

Over these early years, I would visit my dad every other weekend in Fort Mill. I always looked forward to these weekends for a few different reasons. He introduced me to horses & I started riding lessons when I was 3 years old. So whenever I’d come visit, I’d usually have a lesson and we’d spend the day at the barn and I absolutely loved it. He also had a dog, Laska, who I loved. Before Sampson, she was easily the best dog we’ve ever had.

These weekends were hard for my mom because I would throw a fit almost every time she’d pick me up from a weekend spent in Fort Mill. I’d tell her I hated her and wanted to stay, I’d kick her seat and scream, I remember some of these fits and I don’t know how she made it through them without busting into tears. That takes true strength, knowing you’re handing your child over and hoping they’re cared for, all the while being seen as the “mean parent” because you’re making me come home. You see, my dad was an alcoholic. He wouldn’t drink when I was there, otherwise my mom wouldn’t have allowed my visits, so please don’t read this thinking I was ever in an unstable or dangerous situation. This fact just made the situation harder.

My dad is one of 5, he has 4 sisters. Unfortunately, I never truly had the opportunity to get to know my dad’s side of the family. We visited twice when I was younger, but I was too young to really form memories. I’ve seen photos and I know everyone’s names, but I never got to fully have a relationship with them. One of my dad’s sisters has always kept in touch with me, and it’s meant more than she may ever know. If you’re reading this – thank you for always being a part of my life, even from afar.

I spent every other weekend with my dad until he moved from Fort Mill to Texas to be closer to his parents and family. This ended about the same time daycare did, so I was about 10 years old. From this point forward, I’ve only seen my dad a handful of times.

My mom’s side of the family was close, and I remember spending many days out on my grandparents porch. We’d all go swimming during the summer, celebrate all holidays at their house, and had very normal memories. I had a very normal upbringing aside from the divorced parent situation. Everyone’s family situation is different – this was mine.

We also had a roommate who lived with us to help out around the house, and a lot of my early memories include her in them. At this stage in my life, we were more seasonal church goers. We would go for Easter and Christmas with our roommate, and we would go to a Christmas play each year called “This Man Called Jesus” at a local church. This is where I was first truly introduced to the story of Jesus & his life. I’ll always remember when I was 7 years old, after the play, we were presented with an opportunity to raise our hand if we wanted to invite Jesus into our hearts. I raised my hand and received my first mini bible.

I remember my mom being emotional in a sweet way, but I remember being excited and thinking how cool it was that I got to leave with a little bible! Classic 7 year old thoughts, haha. I think back and don’t count this as the day I truly met the Lord and started walking in faith, but it is definitely a memory I have that is super vivid & I know the Lord definitely moved in that moment.

Middle school was short and sweet. I was super quiet and awkward, but then again, weren’t we all pretty awkward in middle school?! I tried out for cheerleading in 8th grade & this is where my personality and confidence started to shift. I met a lot of new friends, some of which are still in my life, and started to find myself and understand that I loved being a part of something. I was excited and expectant, I loved being a part of a team, and I slowly merged out of being completely awkward. I started “dating” my first boyfriend in 7th grade for one whole week, haha, and this was the start of a few more “boyfriends” aka 1-2 week long relationships throughout that year and into early high school.

I had initially planned for this post to be early years through high school, but I feel like high school is it’s own beast. High school was some of the biggest transitional years of my life, and also the start of so many of my darker idols and sin patterns. From unhealthy relationships, to disordered eating, and striving for perfection. All to be shared in my next post next Tuesday, stay tuned for Exposed:  the high school years.

  1. Marie Cantrell says:

    Being a single working mom it’s encoyraging to hear your perspective and see what an awesome, Christ loving adult you’ve become! Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Marie Cantrell says:

    Being a single working mom it’s encoyraging to hear your perspective and see what an awesome, Christ loving adult you’ve become! Thanks for sharing.