WEEKLONG COUNTDOWN LIST: THE 5 MOST SIGNIFICANT TURNING POINTS OF MY LIFE SO FAR

Inspired by @marceline @veshecco @jenna - I'll try to think of them. But not sure about order...
  1. 5. When I told my boss at the last job that I could try to fill in for the marketing position.
    Basically started a whole new career for me! Also got some experience talking about pay, promotions, etc with a boss.
  2. 4. When I chose riding at age 8.
    My mom made me pick between horse riding lessons or girl scouts. I chose horses. It was my whole life until sometime in high school. I learned so much from riding and it really shaped me.
  3. 3. When I decided to be an assistant trainer for the football team in high school to hang out with my friend more.
    For one thing, this drew me away from riding (I was already slowing down on the riding front). But more importantly it took me to sports medicine camp at William & Mary, where I fell in love with the campus and decided I was interested in going there after all. (my grandmother lives in Williamsburg so I thought I didn't want to go to a place I was so familiar with). And that's where I met my husband!
  4. 2. When I broke up with my high school fiancé right after going to college.
    I was young and dumb 😬 to even accept his proposal. OK maybe not so dumb - I didn't want to lose him yet so I didn't want to say no. But I didn't altogether want to say yes. But thank the universe that I realized that we weren't going to work sooner rather than later. I met my now husband a couple weeks after breaking it off with J. All I felt when I broke up with him was a huge rush of relief (and some guilt).
  5. J went on to get married a couple years later. He invited me but I pretended to be busy.
    Then he cheated on her and impregnated a high schooler 😵, got a divorce, the high schooler lost her baby (which never mind the circumstances is sad), and then he got her pregnant again and they have a kid and he is a stay at home dad. But I often think about that bullet I dodged... I didn't know it was a pattern even though I was 6 years younger than him. Anyway at the very least I avoided early marriage and motherhood and probably early divorce.
  6. 1. When I left my youth group at age 17 (and lost my faith in faith).
    This is one of the hurts in my life that has taken the longest to heal. Honestly I'm not always sure I'm over it. But I'm getting there. OK. Story below. Deep breath.
  7. In middle school, some new neighbors moved in across the street.
    There was a girl a little older than me and a boy a little younger than my brother. We became friends, they were nice. They asked us to come to their church. We were raised Methodist, and this church was "nondenominational". I liked the sound of that. I didn't know what it meant. I liked the church and we met a lot of cool kids there! Then the middle school youth group started meeting at the neighbor's house. It was a no brainer! So close, and one of my good friends from school went to it too.
  8. I really did meet some genuinely nice, great people.
    Youth group had a lot of fun games, even if the teachings seemed a little weird and different than what I was used to. I remember it was around the time I read LOTR and they said it was evil and I thought that was crap. But I kept going, for the friends.
  9. Time passed and I switched to high school youth group since I was now in high school.
    I had a crush on like every boy there. What an exhilarating time. It was much further away but whatever. One of the big messages was no dating, but I always thought that was stupid. How are you supposed to find someone to marry if you don't date? Plus everyone dated each other in the group. Unfortunately, the purity messages did begin to stick (to be fair I had gotten these from other places and forms of Christianity too... Though not as I remember my Methodist church).
  10. That was near when I made a promise to God that I wouldn't have sex before marriage.
    Spoiler alert: I broke it, y'all. Anyway, I also got more and more devout the longer I was in youth group. I'm afraid I became that annoying girl at school who could always find a way to work Jesus into the conversation. It clearly turned people off but I was doing God's work! (Note here: I'm not anti Christianity or even really anti evangelism. I was just obnoxious about it.) My parents started to get concerned about where things were going but didn't stop me from going to youth group.
  11. When I was 15, I started dating M from youth group.
    Hormones were wild. We fooled around plenty and then felt really guilty about it. Then when I was 16 we had sex. It was pretty bad but that wasn't why I felt terrible about it. It was the purity thing. I'd broken my promise to God. I hated myself. I broke up with M (not that that was the only reason). But the pattern repeated itself the next year with C.
  12. Eventually the youth group moved to meeting at a Baptist church.
    It was still nondenominational in name but really it was Baptist now. I had lots of experiences with various types of Baptist church and I had thought it was too strict for me. My faith had been breaking down because of the purity thing. And my contentment with the youth group. They started ostracizing my friend who cut herself. Not okay. But the last straw was when they started saying Methodists weren't real Christians. It was absurd and didn't make any sense. I left the youth group.
  13. Once I had been gone for some time I realized that the youth group had been unhealthy for me.
    It was maybe kind of a little brain washy. I had started believing and espousing things that I didn't even agree with. All because I didn't want to lose the fun games and cool people.
  14. I got angry.
    I turned away not just from the youth group but from religion as a whole. I couldn't talk about it without being angry. For years. Many years. I'm not angry anymore, or at least I have redirected to that youth group not Christianity as a whole. I felt manipulated. I felt betrayed. I hated that they turned my quiet, nice faith into something that felt sort of monstrous.
  15. I still don't know what I believe anymore.
    I grew up believing in God so part of me probably always will. Sometimes I wish faith could still be a solace. That I could try a more liberal flavor like UU. But I so far haven't been able to bring myself to try.
  16. Anyway, it felt like a huge thing. Its effects have mostly been internal.
    Like I stopped hating myself for having a sex drive which is good.
  17. Recently someone else who'd gone to the youth group posted on Facebook about how much the Christian purity movement has damaged her as a teen.
    I read the link she shared and I felt so much less alone in how that had felt. She is still religious but not uncritical of certain parts of the religion. That has helped me heal.
  18. That's it for my five turning points. Not sure about the order but I'm going with it. This was a great exercise.