This I Believe

Ashlee - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on May 3, 2007

Turning Point

Have you ever walked past a person, a friend or stranger, and wondered what it would be like to walk around in their shoes for a day? Every person you pass by has a story of his or her own. It was not until my experience at Kairos, a religious retreat, that I realized this. During high school, I was usually the one who all my friends would talk to they were having a problem, but when I developed a problem of my own, I felt I would appear weak if I, the strong one, were to seek help. My weakness would become obvious at Kairos, a retreat I was able to share with a number of my closest friends, who were girls I had played volleyball with my whole life. This was the first time I shared my personal story and the first time I knew how much my friends really cared. Through Kairos, I was able to see the importance of sharing your story.

All my life, volleyball has been a top priority .Because I practiced everyday, volleyball gave me the opportunity to meet new people and form friendships that I believed could never be obtainable. The girls on my team soon became like sisters; we had such a strong bond that many people do not have with their friends. I was fortunate enough to play club volleyball with these girls until my junior year, when everyone changed volleyball clubs. Although this was a difficult time for me, I would meet up with a few of these girls again my senior year at another volleyball club. Not only was this an opportunity to strengthen previous friendships and build new ones, but it was also a gateway to my dream, which was to play volleyball at the collegiate level. The year went well but in the end, I was one of the few without a scholarship. I had lost all hope to play volleyball in college. My aspirations had come to a pause.

While all of this was going on, I would come home from practice to my parents fighting, not talking at all, or one of them being gone. I was unhappy with the volleyball situation and the problems between my parents did not help: Plus, I blamed myself for all of their problems. I did not know exactly what was going on between my parents but would just think of all the things that could be going on. I was so upset that everything began to fall apart. I would come home, lock myself in the bathroom, and would have breakdowns: crying and hyperventilating. Things did not get better and I would soon be heading down a destructive path.

My self-confidence continued to go down hill and I had lost hope for any of the plans I had for my future. I quit club volleyball midseason and would soon distance myself from the people whom I was closest with, my family and friends. I did not know what to do with myself, but because I was alone all the time, I began to be very critical of my body. I compared myself to all of my friends, who were all thin and began to feel as if I needed to become that thin. I developed an eating disorder. I felt as if it were the best way to relieve my stress. I could binge and purge right after. Little did I know the harm I was doing to my body and to the relationships with the people that meant the most to me. I was fatigued, avoided my friends, and rarely had a smile on my face. For the people who knew me, this was not normal.

It was not until Kairos that I would figure out my life and how I wanted to change it. Here, we met in a large group where leaders would give speeches pertaining to a particular lesson they has learned. After, we would meet in small groups and discuss how we related to the stories. During a small group discussion was the first time I shared my story and did not feel alone. I explained what I was dealing with at home, within myself, and how I developed an eating disorder. After Kairos, I was able to tell my parents and found the strength within myself to get some help. I did not want to continue down this destructive path. Without Kairos, I do not know where I would be today; Kairos taught me to believe in the importance of sharing your story.