I will now cover specifics reiterating that I was already mostly formed, but did get reinforcement during my period of emerging adulthood. Some of it will sound familiar.
To recap, childhood had left me feeling that there was something fundamentally wrong with me, and then identified that issue as fatness, as well as reinforcing that no one wanted to hear about my problems.
It also gave me great consolation in good books and good friends, and looking forward to a future where I could create my own happier family by getting married.
Early adolescence threw a wrench into that by showing me that boys could not like me, so how could I get married? Except that if what was wrong with me was my fatness then I just needed to lose weight and then my life and I would be perfect. Since I was still imperfect, I got very restless and kept trying to change things, besides multiple failed attempts to lose weight.
(I don't really sound that different from a lot of girls there, I know.)
As I was sensitive to pain, but couldn't believe that my own merited any attention, I focused a lot on helpfulness, which I tried to have compensate for everything that was wrong with me, including the fat.
(I know I am saying "fat" a lot, but it played an outsized role in my self-image. There is no way of clarifying that won't sound like a pun.)
Just one year short of adulthood, my father disowned me, leaving me with a real hangup about driving and possibly some concentration issues.
My turning 18 was quickly followed by some disillusionment about how being smart and helpful was not going to get me any scholarships. I hadn't been doing it in the right way. That's a cultural capital issue, but I didn't understand that at the time.
I'd had this idea once that I would skip fall term of my freshman year of college to explore Europe via trains and hostels. Yeah, I did start college late, but I was just working retail so I could afford to go.
I'd earned 51 college credits in high school, though there were some duplication issues. I ended up working summer and fall and attending winter and spring terms (while also working) for my first two years at the University of Oregon. In between that, I reconciled with my father.
Toward the end of my second year in college I was inspired to go on a mission. I finished spring term, then worked through January, and then went into the Missionary Training Center at the start of February.
When I came back (22 1/2) I started working to go back to school, but my father had been out of work for a while. He took a temporary job in another state, but there were some accumulated issues. My first paycheck went to pay part of the mortgage and replace some dining room chairs that were falling apart. I remember this feeling very disappointing. Maybe adulthood was not all it was cracked up to be.
I made it back to Eugene for Spring term. Then after having gone 18 months with no income and being old enough that parental income didn't count against me, I finally qualified for a student loan that meant I was able to attend fall term for the first time in my life. I finally got to go to football games! Because remember, I could understand football now, after I took the football coaching class.
While I was at that first fall term, my father left my mother. I remember her calling me crying shortly before I left for the homecoming game.
I wanted to run back home and comfort everyone, but everyone agreed that was the wrong thing to do. It was hard, though.
I had also gotten an opportunity to try out for the Jeopardy! College Championship. That was a few weeks after my father left. A couple of days before my father left, one of my dorm's Resident Advisors (we had two RAs) disappeared mountain climbing. We were still waiting for news when it was time to leave, but he was already dead. They didn't find the bodies until spring.
I remember looking out the plane window, and there was so much pain everywhere; I just wanted to get away, for fun. It felt like it had been a long time. I talked my mother and younger sisters into going to Disneyland for spring break. I let them set it up.
That actually got a little stressful, because PCC's spring break was the week before U of O's. I was up all night before the flight typing up my final paper for my History of China class, and mailed it from the airport. However, then I had an extra week of vacation.
That started the tradition of my sisters and I going to Disneyland together. They had to try with friends once to find out that I was more fun. That should have been so obvious, but they hadn't gotten the same disillusionment with friendship that I'd gotten. (Other thing that happened in there.)
I graduated, got a job, and started helping to take care of things. I learned a bit about how unfair employment law can be, but the job market was still good then, and I was doing all right. When I was 25 I landed at Intel, where I spent the next 11 years of my life in one capacity or another. Not long after that, I wrote my first novel. After multiple rejections, I didn't try writing anything commercial again for a while.
A little after that we started having more trouble with my father, but I would periodically smooth things over, and I had already learned some ways in which to not be like him, even if I had not yet recognized his impact on my self-image. I didn't get disowned again until I was 33.
I periodically went on dates, without specifically dating anyone, but of course I was still fat so that was to be expected. I did enjoy my gym membership and I felt good working out regularly; it just had no effect on my size.
Ultimately, I still didn't really trust anyone to like me.
I was putting others' needs before my own, and sometimes I would get frustrated with that, but I was generally okay. There was a lot to do, and I was mostly happy with it.
The first real crisis -- and my next depression -- did not happen until I was 31, with the next happening at 36. Later the year 41 was pretty eventful, and something major did happen at 46, but I had never previously noticed a 5-year cycle. I mean, other things have happened that could have felt like crises, but didn't, so maybe it's just a matter of losing equanimity and then needing to re-gain it.
And this last phase is still ongoing, but we'll get to that.