This assignment was about writing a paper on identity, which meant I had to really think about what composes my identity. There are so many different aspects that make up me as a whole. Choosing just four was hard. It took a lot of thought and consideration. But I have chosen what I find to be the four main things that make me well, me.
My family's impact on me has been large. Not in the "My family loves me and is always there" kind of way. More that I've learned so many life lessons from them, the impact, good and bad, really has helped to mold me in to the person I am today. My family is not your normal everyday American family. My parents are divorced. In the last 15 years I've seen my father twice. I have 7 older siblings, 5 from my mother and 2 from my father. My fathers children I've never met. My mom remarried when I was 5.. They divorced when I was 11.
My oldest brother has been into drugs as long as I can remember. Growing up, there was reminder after reminder of what drugs do to a person. My Mom is raising two of his three children. He has shown me the kind of parent I never want to be, and the man I never want to marry. His twin boys, who are now 10, are really amazing considering all that they've been through. They've taught me a deeper love and patience. All my siblings have shown me things I want and don't want to be. All of them who have kids, excluding my oldest brother, are great parents, loving and devoted spouses, smart and caring people. They have helped me to have a more receptive and caring identity.
My Mother, whom I love to pieces, is always there for me. She is an amazing mother and person. Being a single mother isn't easy. But she's always tries to give us what we want. She has shown me that no matter the situation, or the consequence. You do what is needed of you. She has shown me how to be strong person even in hard times, to hold on to what I believe in and stand my ground. Through her I am stronger in my identity.
One of the biggest role models in my life is Debi Schmelzenbach, she's not actually related to me. She's been there for me through the hardest years of my life. She stuck by my side, even when I didn't want to. She offered advice, showed loved, and listened. She is a very Godly woman,. She has taught me true meaning of friendship. That, no matter what happens you stick by those you care about when they need you. Even when they don't realize it's you they need. Debi and my Mother have both shown me real faith in God.
Being homeschooled was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. I loved it. A lot of people are against it, and I agree that it isn't always the best option. But for me it was. I was able to learn at my pace, for the most part. I didn't have the same peer pressure, for the most part. In the town I grew up in, we had a home school group. So I still got the social interaction. Through it I learned better problem solving skills, as after my Mom and Step-dad divorced when I was 11 I was on my own with getting my schooling done a lot. There wasn't always someone to ask.
I also think I learned how to be a better friend. There wasn't an endless supply of people around like in public school. The friends I made were the friends I had. I learned not to take them for granted and think before I did something that might hurt them. Now, I'm not saying that I've never done those things, I am human. I've just noticed that a lot of the public schooled kids I know, don't really care that much about their friends. If they make one mad they go to the next. I was also brought so much closer to my family through home schooling. It was me and my three older sisters. I was in first grade and my oldest sister was a freshman in high school. We all fought. We all disliked each other. But in the end, we all were closer. The importance of family is something not everyone sees. Being Homeschooled helped me realize it by bringing me closer to them and having to rely on them for a lot of my social interaction.
My medical Challenges have impacted me the most I think. Growing up I was the kid with chronic belly aches. Had tests done at a young age, but nothing ever showed up. Then because of my horrid acid reflux we were referred to a local surgeon who discovered a hiatal hernia. I had my first surgery at the age of 15, then another 3 months later to have my gall bladder removed, and another three months later to remove my appendix. Then there was a nine month break. July 17th 2008 was the day that changed me forever. Well not the day per se, but the events that followed. The short 1 hour surgery, turned into a multiple hour surgery. The overnight stay turned into 10 days in Evanston, eight of them in ICU, and 4 weeks at Primary Children's Medical Center. Where they found I had Pancreatitis, many infected abscesses in my lungs and abdomen, which required multiple hospitalizations over the next year. In January 2009 I had another 8+ hour surgery at Primary Children's Medical Center to correct the misfortunes done by the previous surgeon, which lead to another 3 weeks in the hospital.
What kind of an impact might this have on a person? Well, personally, I found lying in a bed in the ICU hardly breathing, barely awake, hearing the many Doctors in the room telling your mother that you had less than a 20% chance of survival. It does change someone. Knowing that I'm in the <20% that shouldn't be alive, that I'm really nothing short of a miracle. Knowing that for some reason God wants me personally here has given me a different outlook on life. Maybe even a new zest, though it took me a long time after everything happened to find. It's still there, inside begging to get out. A want to do more with the oh so limited time I know we all have. I realize now how fragile life really is. How much we really need to embrace today. This gives me a more spontaneous identity.
Though, knowing all of this can be really overwhelming at times. Have you ever asked God "why me"? I do every day. The day after I was transferred off ICU the little guy that I shared a room with, not even a year old, passed away. Why him? Why not me? What is it about me that makes my life needed? Why must I live? No one can really answer those questions. We can try. But ultimately only God knows. At that time, I wasn't changed. The aftermath of it all is what really affected me. Realizing things I heard. Understanding why the nurses were crying on more than one occasion is overwhelming some days.
Knowing that the first surgeon did all that he did without really knowing or caring if he was doing it right, or fixing the problem. He was just looking for a paycheck. That can be unbearable. Learning to adjust to life after almost dying, having weeks that I don't remember of my life, learning to eat again. (Something that they never thought I'd be able to do.) Seeing the scars left from it every single day. Knowing that I'm 'different'. It's undeniably hard some days. Going through a law suit, while starting College, it's not exactly easy.
Knowing that the way I view life is different than the average 19 year old girl, knowing that I'll never be "normal". It's all part of what makes me Gabby. It forces me to have a more positive identity. The negative can and does quite often bring me down. If I'm not positive at the roots everything falls apart fast. This part of my life will continue to shape me for the rest of my life I suppose.
My beliefs are what have brought me this far in life, knowing that I'm actually living for something, that when I die I'm going to heaven. Knowing that there is more to life than just things and pleasure, and having assurance that no matter what I do, I'm a child of God. Being a Christian is not always glitter and butterflies. But I always know that God is with me, even though I may not feel Him right at that moment. People always want to know how I can still have faith in God after all I've been through. But the question is how I could not? How could I live my life, a miracle, without praising God everyday for it? Without God, I would without a doubt not be alive right now. It is what keeps me together at the seams. My faith, well it is me, it's why I live, and it's who I am.
I recently went Skydiving. It was the most amazing experience of my life. The place I went to was Tooele Utah, right off the Great Salt Lake. On the plane ride, all I could think was "this is going to be so cool." Oh boy was I underestimating it. Words really can't describe the way I felt, feet on the edge of the plane looking down at the beautiful earth God created. Knowing I was about to jump out in to nothing. Heart pounding, mind racing. Off we went. Falling at 115mph. Being able to see for miles in each direction. Realizing how small I really am. I'm just a speck. I could see so much. Yet, that was just One County, in one State, in one Country.
The world is so big. I don't think I really realized it until that moment. The moment that defines everyone in their life happens at different time, in a different place. That moment for me was 10,000+ feet in the air. Strapped to some man I didn't know. Who controlled my life at that time. It was exhilarating. It was the biggest adrenaline rush of my life. Nothing will ever beat how close I felt to God for those 5 minutes. He was there, showing me his creations. Telling me, I really can trust Him with my entire life. He created that beautiful picture I was able to see up there. He is able to sustain me.
Life is beautiful, fragile, and absolutely amazing. I rest assured that I'm taken care of. Not that I don't have my moments. Again, I am only human. I freak out over things. I get stressed beyond what I believe I can handle. I am in College after all. But at the end of the day I always know where I'm going, and how much I'm loved. Not because I've had a perfect life, and not just by God. I am loved by my family and friends, through the bad and the good. I am loved though my body isn't perfect. I am loved for me and my true identity.