I have a blog for my photography business, Crystal Clear Photography already, but I want this blog to be different. I have always tried to be myself and be real. I remember writing poetry at North Pulaski High School and one of the titles was “Be You”. I think that it is so important to show others who you really are and be transparent in many ways. I think that there are certain things that are better left unsaid, but expressing oneself in an honest way is so much more meaningful than trying to show others someone that is not you.
I will start by introducing myself. My name is Crystal Charlene Atkinson and many people still know me as Crystal Cuneo, because Cuneo is my maiden name. If you are wondering, it is Italian and yes, I am proud of that. (lol) I was born in San Bernadino, California and I lived there with my family for about two years and then, moved to Sherwood, Arkansas. My brother was two years older than me. I was blessed with a best friend in my brother. My parents divorced when I was five, so my brother and I moved with my mom to Heber Springs, Arkansas. When I was in the fifth grade, I moved back to Sherwood mainly because I missed my brother whom had just moved back there to live with my dad. I also missed my dad. As much as I loved my mom, we had our fights. When I say fights, I mean pulling hair, hitting and yelling. It was brutal. I didn’t always listen to her and there were many confrontations. I didn’t like the clothes she made me wear, because we didn’t have enough money to buy new clothes. She made me wear dresses most of the time. The kids made fun of me at school sometimes just because of the clothes that my mom made me wear. I can laugh about that now, but it was a serious situation when I was 9-10 years old! My mother and I are now best friends, though. It took a lot of growing up on my side to truly appreciate her.
I enjoyed living in Sherwood much better than living in Heber Springs. One of the main reasons is because I feel like Heber Springs is very old-fashioned and not so much in a good way. I still have family that live there and I love all of them very much! There are some great people there, but I did not like how many people there had some racist views and it seemed that more had those views than those whom did not. I also thought that Little Rock, where I started going to school, was much more exciting. I went to Booker Arts Magnet Elementary School and I loved it. I learned a lot about art, since the school specialized in it. I also had some great friends. Yes, I was a dork! I have yearbook pictures to prove it!
I went to Horace Mann Middle School after that and I also enjoyed it there. I had a great group of friends and I loved all of them. We had fun. I was still a dork. I had a LOT of freckles and a chubby face. I look at other kids and think, “aww! They are adorable.” When it was me, I hated it. In the eighth grade, I became anorexic and I started caring about boys and being cute. It was so silly. I got so skinny that it was not pretty at all. I would skip lunch and my friends would ask why I wasn’t eating all the time. I just said that I wasn’t hungry. I also tried marijuana for the first time. I wanted to be “cool”, I guess. Soon after that, I was in high school and got very depressed, because I wanted to go to Parkview High School, where all of my friends were going. My brother got accepted instead of me, so I went to the school where all of his friends were going. I thought it was so unfair. I slept through all of my classes and did not socialize. I had a couple close friends, but that was about it. I continued smoking pot occasionally and socially. I think that at the time, I stopped caring about a lot of things. I wore all black most of the time. I cussed like a sailor. For those of you who know me, that probably comes as a shock. I thought about killing myself often. I was seriously that depressed. I went to counseling and started writing. That seemed to help a lot.
About a year later, I began making more friends. They were my party friends. I got drunk on the weekends and I was definitely not living for God. Thank God, I never slept around. That is seriously by God’s grace, because I did everything else that was pretty crazy and stupid. I was the girl pinching guys’ butts in the hallway and thinking it was funny. As embarrassing that is to admit, that was me. I mooned cars on the interstate. My friends thought it was funny and I obviously thought it was, too. I can not even remember everything else that I did back then, but I was crazy! I dated a different guy sometimes every week. One time, I broke up with a guy just because he cut his hair. I was very shallow, I must say! There were also times when a guy would ask me to be his girlfriend, so I would say yes and then, go hang out with an ex-boyfriend of mine. So basically, yes, I was the total complete opposite of who I am now. I learned and grew from it all, though. I eventually started to care for others’ feelings, too.
Eventually, I realized that smoking pot and getting drunk just wasn’t for me. I needed to straighten up and start making better grades. I did have some fun friends that I had so much fun with, but I almost needed to get some new friends in order for me to start doing better things for myself. They were there for me in many other ways too, though. I started playing soccer and I loved it! I got my first “serious” boyfriend and he also played soccer. I remember threatening him by saying, “If you ever try and take my virginity away, I will break up with you…seriously! So, don’t even try!!!” I guess that scared him enough, because the whole year that we dated, we remained virgins. I was pretty proud of that, because a lot of high schoolers these days can not say that. Of course, that did not make me any more righteous than someone who did not do the same! What shocks me the most about that is, I wonder why I cared so much about that and not that much about half the other things that I did? I went to church with him and his family on Sundays. I was not a church-goer, but I didn’t mind going with him, since I was in church with my mom growing up.
He randomly broke up with me a year later and it tore my world apart. I can laugh about it now, but I remember being so depressed. The next day, he walked up to me at school and said, “I am such an idiot.” I responded by saying, “Yes…You are.” and walked away. I guessed that he was maybe wanting me to get back with him and showing it in a weird way, but I knew that he messed up and I was done with him, because of it. I started carrying my Bible with me everywhere. Anytime I saw him in the hallways or in class and I wanted to cry, I would whip my Bible out and read a super encouraging verse. It was great. I grew so much just because of that breakup. I started being more open about my Christianity. After that, I had a bad injury while playing soccer. Not only had I lost my “first love,” but I also couldn’t play my favorite sport anymore. I lost cartilage and the specialist told me to never run, or play a contact sport again! I seriously got so depressed about that. Of course, I started running a few months later (or more) when I was in Honolulu, Hawaii on vacation with my cousins. I also played soccer my Freshman year at Central Baptist College.
There is much more to my life story and I will continue in my next blog since this one is getting much, much too long.