Thursday, 6 November 2008

A timeline of Tamara

Po tagged me to do a timeline of my past 10 years, so here goes. It's likely to be an overshare, and probably boring to many of you (my life is really not very thrilling), so I apologise in advance...

1998: I was in grade 8 at a snobby all girls' private school in Durban, getting used to high school and discovering that boys weren't as gross as I'd previously thought.

1999: Grade nine and the first year I went on a Scripture Union Independent Schools (SUIS) camp in the holidays and decided I wanted to be a christian. I met people there that were to be my best friends for the next five years and some of whom I still keep in touch with today.

2000: I went on exchange to a school in Melbourne, Australia. I questioned my new-found faith, got drunk for the first time (on warm cheap white wine out of a box), went to my first formal dance, had my first kiss (in the middle of the dance floor in front of all the teachers. Cringe), had my handbag stolen with my passport, travellers cheques and house keys in it, watched a Grand Prix live and gave my first "we can still be friends" speech. When I got back home, I became bulimic for the first time to lose the weight I'd gained. I fell in love with a boy that I thought I loved unwaveringly for the next three years. Let's call him B-Ball, seeing he's a six foot three basketball player. You must see the absurdity in this, as I'm barely over 1.5m tall.

2001: My parents moved to Pretoria and I went into the boarding house at my school. I loved it and made friends that were like family. I joined a new church and got baptised, but in the shadows my eating disorder spiralled out of control and I was not eating a single meal that I didn't throw up. My school work suffered and I had almost constant blinding headaches and often experienced heart palpitations. I once passed out and hit my head on the bathroom sink, giving myself two black eyes that my friends teased my boyfriend about at our play rehearsals.

When I visited a doctor for a head cold and strep throat, she diagnosed me with chemical depression. I told my folks and they flew me home for the weekend where I admitted my bulimia in tears on the way back to the airport at the end of the weekend. My mother shocked my father and I by telling us she'd suffered from the disease during her varsity years, had tried to commit suicide twice and been admitted to a psychiatric ward for a short time. She had only stopped throwing up when she found out she was pregnant with me. It was one of the hardest conversations of my life - she'd kept that secret for 23 years. We both started seeing therapists and me a dietician too.

2002: I wrote exams, stopped throwing up, refused to see my crappy therapist ever again, struggled to adjust to anti-depressants, lost a very close friend who decided I no longer fit her image, briefly dated a guy seven years older than me, turned 18 and eventually matriculated from high school. The day after the last exam I pierced my nose and dyed my hair with fire-engine red streaks. B-Ball had become my best guy friend and I took him to my matric dance. I went to his the next evening. It was insane - before party, matric dance, after party, breakfast at the beach, sleep for four hours, drive to his home town, start the whole process again. I eventually figured out that I loved him more as a friend than I could ever as a boyfriend and that loving him had become a convenient habit, seeing he was useless with girls and I knew nothing would ever happen between us. So I started dating someone else, Bear (so-called coz he gave me the most gorgeous cuddly bear that I refused to part with for ages afterwards).

2003: I moved to Pretoria and did a gap year at a church along with 80-odd people from diverse backgrounds. I made friends from all over South Africa, as well as the US, New Zealand, Russia and my best friend in the world, Nic from Botswana. Bear and I struggled to keep our long distance relationship going, but he was my lifeline to the real world. Then the church split the 80 of us into groups to head off on a three-week outreach into different parts of Africa. TSC was in my group, as was Noo (who is now one of my close friends and was a bridesmaid at our wedding) and Bees (now TSC's best friend and our best man). I couldn't stand any of them. After three weeks in Zambia, we came back friends and TSC and I grew closer and closer. Eventually, he confessed his feelings for me. I explained that I was in a relationship with Bear and was not available. At the end of the year, he left to go back to the Northern Cape. By that time he was my dearest friend and my heart broke to see him go. I turned my focus to trying to sort stuff out with Bear as we went on holiday with my family.

2004: On New Year's Eve, as I nursed a sick and miserable Bear, TSC called me to say he was coming back to Pretoria and ask if I'd be there. My heart leapt and I knew that this was more than friendship. After our holiday I had realised that things between me and Bear would never work out, and I ended things with him. When TSC arrived in Pretoria, I spent a long, long time explaining that I didn't think it was wise for me to get into a relationship, that I was going to Cape Town and that we should not be more than friends. We got together anyway. And I headed off to varsity, which I loved. I enjoyed studying what I liked and made awesome new friends. I joined a fantastic church and lived in res with my gap year friend, Nic. She supported me and I supported her and we did well. In August, my birthday month, TSC moved to Cape Town. I was terrified he'd stifle me and I'd get bored of him. He didn't and I'm still not bored of him.

2005: Another bad New Year's Eve, I went back to bulimia for the first time in two years. This time, I knew what to do and asked for help. I started the whole process of therapy, happy drugs and dieticians again. This time with TSC by my side. As I withdrew from everyone, even Nic, he put up with my blackest moments and protected me when he could. We had the biggest fights of our relationship, but he hung on. Eventually, I began to heal as my first decent therapist and dietician team taught me healthy ways of coping and my amazing friends kept refusing to drop me. I celebrated my 21st birthday with all my friends and family. It was a milestone.

I decided what I wanted to do and chose to pursue my writing. When TSC went to work one day and discovered the project manager (who chased him away with a gun) had spent the entire budget on gambling and booze, I was actually in a position to support him and return his kindness to me through his roughest months of self-doubt and financial stress.

2006: In a much better space, I threw myself into my varisty work and tutored school kids on the side. I ran a church cell group, began to socialise again and decided that TSC was the man I wanted to marry. We got engaged. We had a hectic car accident where we were hit by a speeding fire engine and the car flipped, but we both came out just fine. I wrote my exams and panned the wedding in between and at the end of the year graduated. On 16 December, we got married in the garden on a beautiful wine farm. It was perfect. Our honeymoon to Mpumalanga was a fairytale too.

2007: Our first New Year as a married couple was spent with friends and was such fun. Then we moved into my tiny bachelor flat (47 square metres) and lived together for the first time. His parents came to Cape Town over that period and we fought like cat and dog as family politics came into play and we struggled to share our space and time. I started a copywriting job at an ad agency and learnt to juggle the cooking and cleaning with a full day's work. Eventually, we moved into a bigger flat. it turned out to be a disaster and would flood frequently. But we got our two little kitties and my heart melted for them.

TSC got offered a job in JHB. We decided to move. I worried that we'd be too close to my family and that we were doing the wrong thing. I hated the first three months - we knew nobody, the lifestyle was so different and I missed the natural beauty of the Cape.

But I got amazing work experience doing what I'd always wanted to do - writing - and my relationship with my family improved immeasurably. We joined a church that I fell totally and completely in love with - a church that is relevant and real and exciting to be part of - and we made the effort to meet people. It paid off. I started this blog and met the most incredible people throught the interwebs. I can't imagine not blogging anymore.

2008: I was offered a job at the company where I now work, which gives me the opportunity to freelance. It's tough, but (as Nic's mom would say) it builds character and takes me a step closer to my dreams. TSC decided to study and we bought a house. We began leading our own life group for church (a home cell) and were asked to be part of the leadership team for the new service our church will be staring in Monte Casino next year. We realised how awesome life is at our joint birhtday picnic when we looked around us and saw that we have a life in Jo'burg.

And that, in a nutshell, is me over the last decade. Right, I'd love you all to do this tag, because I think it's therapeutic and I want to read your answers. But seeing I know that's not going to happen, please just let me know if you do decide to to this one. I am a voyeur and want to know all about you!

21 comments:

boldly benny said...

Wow thank you for sharing your courageous story with us. How very special.
My sister battled with anorexia and it was a very difficult for my whole family but I am pleased to say that she has been in recovery for ten years. Not a day passes that I don't think about how proud I am of her and how thankful I am that we got a second chance with her!

sleepyjane said...

This was so interesting to read Tamara! You have really been through so much, and having met you I can see that you came out of it at the other end, a beautiful and strong woman! Kudos! {hugs}

Being Brazen said...

That was so very interesting to read. Thanks for sharing and for your honesty. I enjoyed this post.

Gill said...

Thanks for sharing Tamara. One of my closest friends suffered from bulimia - she came out from OZ as an exchange student and the bulimia started a couple of months before she had to go home. Long story.... but I *think* she is ok now. Bulimia is a nightmare, for the sufferer and for those who are trying to understand... So glad you have kicked it!!

Ruby said...

Thanx for sharing your last 10 years with us friendster:) It's awesome to get to know you and to realise that all those things shaped you into the person you are today...and what a fantastic little person you are! I'll try and do it when i have a little time, as this is not a thing you can do in a rush:)

po said...

wow Tamara, it is amazing the things that people hide behind the surface hey? I would never had guessed you had been through all that stuff from the way you write now.

Eating disorders are the pits. I started when I was 11. I cant even remember why too well. But hectic about your mom. In those days they pretended that kind of thing didnt exist!

Thanks for being so honest with us and sharing that.

Shania said...

My goodness! You certainly have packed a lot into ten years. Congratulations on all of your successes. May you have many more!

Ches said...

Geez Tam...thats quite a decade. Well done on being honest and sharing it with us.

Very nice post.

Is seems eating disorders are surfacing a lot in these.

Miss Caught Up said...

I didn't do a timeline, but I did do my Teenage Meme :) You can check it out if you'd like...

Dash said...

i liked 2007 the best. sounds like it was really good for you.
that really was a deep post. thanks for sharing with us little bees in your computer.

enc said...

T, this is an amazing and gripping story. I am so glad that you've come through it all so well. Thanks so much for being brave and sharing yourself with us.

xx

CP said...

Wow- that was an amazing journey through your past 10 years. Thanks so much for being so open!

Sass said...

I loved getting the chance to learn more about the real person writing this beautiful blog.

My last ten years have been boring. But, Miss Caught Up tagged me to do a high school meme. Could be interesting...?

harassedmomsramblings said...

WOWEE!!!! That certainly wasnt boring!!!!

I am DEFINATELY going to do this meme! Its really really cool!!

We are often stronger than we give ourselves credit for :)

BecauseIcan said...

What a really good post..

But I have one question?

Your flat kept flooding but your two kitties pulled you through it?

Very clever kitties indeed.. what breed are they? Spotted surfers?

MsBehavn said...

What a fascinating read, Tam. You're a very brave girl xo

angel said...

friggin awesome tamara! truly wonderful!
i just may do this one...

Anonymous said...

DGC?

Anonymous said...

DGC?

Slyde said...

you were in 8th grade in 1998? my god im feeling old right now...

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