When I asked Diane to be the next PRP she was hesitant. She may be the life of the party (most of the time), but she’s also pretty private, and having your personal life splayed across the World Wide Web is not for everyone. She did agree, though, with minimal arm twisting and bribery (just kidding), and here’s how that went:
Me: What are some of the things you like?
Diane: Cherry cheesecake, silence, sounds in the woods, amusement parks at night, walking in the rain, walking when it’s a full moon, loud rock music while driving, singing out loud, blueberry picking, potato chips.
Me: Pet peeves?
Diane: Coming home after work and the dishes aren’t done.
Me: How was it growing up in a remote Northern Ontario village?
Diane: Positive: running through overgrown bushes, singing, falling into my own imaginary world where I was in control. Knowing the people that lived around me, no one was a stranger. We had freedom to walk anywhere, anytime. Once, at two in the morning, I walked along a railway track about half a mile long without any fear. I was fourteen at the time, and we didn’t fear for our safety. If we did get hurt it was within our own circles. Outdoor skating and swimming at a nearby provincial park. Everyone was invited to weddings. Town activities were fun because you knew everyone.
But, we were often bored, and the town had its own pecking order. We were isolated from the big cities–no playgrounds, malls or restaurants. Activities were limited and everyone knew too much about you.
Me: Describe your family life.
Diane: I am blessed with a man who is kind, gentle, and dedicated. He has been patient, caring, understanding, and stood with me through many shared hardships. Together we brought four children into this world and dedicated our lives to raising them. He and the children have been my greatest pleasure and joy to this day. If everything disappeared from my life, all would still be well as long as they were in it.
Me: You’ve often mentioned a ‘Turning Point.’ What was that?
Diane: At seventeen I went to a retreat with a Catholic youth group. By this time I was broken inside and didn’t know what to do about it. I had built many walls to protect myself from people, from allowing them to hurt me in the ways they had. I went for a weekend of spirituality, what I received had a major impact inside of me.
One of the events was a two-hour time of prayer. Praying without books or beads was foreign. What would I do? After what seemed like five minutes the announcer said we were at the end of the two hours. I was in tears when the lights came on, and something was different inside of me after that. I was alive. I could feel joy, happiness, and freedom–emotions I had tucked away. I found myself volunteering for activities (not something I did).
I loved every moment of the rest of the retreat. It was like I was floating, in love and loving life. But, I tucked all those wonderful feelings back where they belonged when I had to return to the real world. It would be years later when I felt that love again, when, at twenty-four, Christ opened the door for me to see who God was and the love he had for me. It continues to be a journey of healing, and I have found myself many times needing grace, forgiveness, and mercy.
Shame had always been a constant companion. I would never look anyone in the eyes. When someone spoke to me and I was expected to look at them, my heart would beat faster, my body would stiffen and I felt like I was shrinking. Anyone outside my comfort zone would trigger these reactions inside of me. I know it’s difficult for most people to engage in conversation and interact with others but, for me, it went beyond the ordinary. So, I avoided interacting with people. Making appointments and answering the phone were difficult and I had to prepare myself for those conversations. Over the years I have conquered these hang ups.
Me: What’s the biggest breakthrough you’ve experienced lately?
Diane: I love the woman I was made to be–now. I was the girl they laugh at in high school for growing up to be fat with kids hanging on her hips (as though it’s a tragedy not to remain a knockout).
Being a mother is one of the greatest joys of my life. But, my weight was not embraced with such joy. When my stomach started bulging out I hid it with loose clothing. It’s the mushroom that got the best of me. I never looked at a mirror for years, only at my face. I never wanted to see those bulges. I would never look at myself in a picture. I had aged. I was fat. I avoided these things… until lately. I love who I am with the bulges. Not that I promote being unhealthy, for those reasons I try to eat better. But, I am who I am. Not perfect, but full of many things that have blessed my family and others. I bring to society the good and the flaws.
I cannot fully explain why, but today I can look at pictures of me, knowing that I am who I am, the person who, should we meet, would want, somehow, to be a blessing to you.
Thanks, Diane. You sure bless everyone you come in contact with–just by being plainly, remarkable you.