Maybe it was NEVER about ME.

Maybe it was NEVER about ME..

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Maybe it was NEVER about ME.

Soon I will travel to my hometown to attend my 20 year reunion. To say that I am nervous is an understatement.  When I attended my 10 year I found that some of us had changed, others had not.  To say that I have grown in maturity since then is also an understatement.  To that end, I have been surprised to find some classmates reach out to me via Facebook.  It has shocked me to discover how many have watched my posts and commented on the smiles they get out of the antics of my  boys, or that I make them think because of something I have said.

I am amazed.  I choke back tears, I am filled with fear–terrified to see many of these people, terrified to expose myself to some who made such an impact.

I remember the beginning of the treatment.  We had a classmate join our class from a different class, he was instantly popular because of his athletic ability.  He also had a bit of a temper and tended to blow his top in anger.  The upper echelon  challenged him to not lose his temper for one week.  If he did, he would have to hug 1 of 3 of us on the lower rung.  True to form, he lost it and by the week end, he chose to hug me for 2 minutes.  I remember the embrace, the laughter from the crowd.  I was humiliated.

I remember hitting junior high school.  No one has a good junior high memories.  Every one of us hits that awkward stage and I was no different.  I recall wearing a tighter red sweater, proud that the color and form looked ok.  A late bloomer, I had no other thought on my radar until the guys in the lunchroom laughed at me and called me “pointy.”  I was sheltered enough to have no idea as to what they were referring…that is until a classmate pulled me aside and told me what the big deal was.  I wanted to die right there.  I wished more times than I could count that the floor would open up and swallow me whole.  I cursed that it never happened.

I remember being good friends with one of the popular girls and someone teaching me how to “peg” my jeans so I would be acceptable to sit at the “popular” table.  The friendship waned as her popularity grew and my stock plummeted.  Oddly enough she and I stayed at least cordial friends throughout the rest of school.  I have thought of her often.

I hated crushes and I had one on the most popular guy in school.  Needless to say, most of us in our class and beyond did as well.  Little did anyone realize that we were actually really good friends and talked quite candidly.  To my knowledge he never talked smack about me, not once.  I have silently thanked him many many times for that quiet support.  It was no secret that most of the girls had enormous crushes on him….enter the stupid notes to me asking if I would go out with so and so.  Beyond excited, a bit of a romantic, and sooooo naive, I took the bait-responding back by checking the necessary box.  How stupid could I be?  Yet, stupid I was.  To my classmates’ horror, he saved me a dance at every stinking school insanity called school dances.  He never refused, all I had to do was walk over, I was thrilled to have his friendship–I still am and it was a well-kept secret.

Junior high was amazing for humiliation and 8th grade brought a new level of rude behavior.  I stopped going to school functions because I caught the look on one of my classmate’s faces when I danced with his little brother.  The horror on his face was unmistakable.  I felt guilty, I knew he would talk to his brother immediately after that “stunt”. and he did.  His brother never spoke to me again.  Likewise, I caught the finger-pointing when I danced with an upperclassman as a 7th grader, a mutual friend who had been on an Olympics of the Mind team.  We had kicked butt as a team, I was smart, creative, and an overall nice person…..that never mattered.   Somehow it does now?

I have at times looked back at our senior paper…Senior Wills and Prophecies….I was devastated by wishes that were sent my way.  I went home and sobbed down at the lake by myself.  Wishes of a car so that no one would have to give me a ride and be seen with me. No one knew that I was not allowed to have a license and felt so small with how I had to travel.  No one ever knew how much courage it took me to even approach someone for a ride.  I regretted it, I still do.  Some wished me a new neck so I would not have to hurt the one i had by turning it to watch and talk with someone else.  Of course, it was “our boy”, and while his classmates did a fine job of pointing it out, he took it in stride and complimented me when I had done well in debate the prior weekend.  I was so grateful for those moments, I don’t think he ever knew that.  I also think that being good at my extra curricular events was my saving grace.  I was at the bottom of the pit, but I was not unnoticed because I worked my butt off to be good at what I did.  Some wished I would get a life, or to take my own.  They knew how much I hated where I was, yet the dramatic tendency for the over the top behavior wearied most people….me included.  I heard myself, saw what I was portraying, and I hated it.  I hated that I let them get the better of me, I loathed who I allowed myself to become.  I wanted the heavens above to whisk me off to nether lands.  I prayed for it more times than I can count and I hated that feeling and who it made me.

So, we come to the upcoming event.  I walk forward with trepidation, hoping that we all have grown up a bit more.  I have to walk in believing that we are not same people, that I am not the same person.  Maybe, just maybe all the crap and rumors and finger-pointing, snide comments, and snubs were necessary for us to mature.  Even as I type this, I have to look away and swipe at tears, praying that THIS time it will be different.  That THIS time around what I thought was the ugly duckling will have transformed into the graceful swan.  Each year at the start of school I looked hopefully into the mirror waiting to see if it had happened.  I felt like Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles when she hoped to wake up on her 16th bday changed for the better.  In the end, she got the hot guy.

I am no longer dorky me with an over dramatic tendency and the incessant need to impress.  I am praying for the courage to walk bravely forth, and “put your past behind you” as Lion King would tell me.  I also pray that if others are reading this….they can take heart for themselves and know that it is possible to live through moments of hell, real, imagined, inflicted, and self imposed.  It is possible to climb that mountain of humiliation and check pride at the door and stand on top of that mountain and look down at what was accomplished.  Hell, I even did a clinical not so long ago with a classmate ( another popular one) who was a doctor on of the floors I worked.  We worked well and had a healthy respect for one another.  I am thankful for that moment too.  Maybe at the end of the day, it was never about me…maybe, just maybe.

With fingers crossed, I remain,

me

 

I’m Baaaack.

I’m Baaaack..

I’m Baaaack.

Hello and good day from my keyboard. It has been awhile since I last wrote and there is no excuse. The only answer I can provide is that my world has been crazy busy. Yet, with all the good happening I realize even more the need for solitude and rest.

Mind you, I do not do this well. Even as I sit here and type, I think of the millions of “duties” I should be performing….ah, there’s the rub. Could it be that under all the excuses I am simply afraid of not performing up to standards? Hmmmmm, not sure how well that sets with me.

Performance, a word that has taken on many forms in my life. I performed in theatre, music, musicals, debate, and oral interp. It was as natural to me as dressing each morning. I performed tasks in my household growing up; laundry, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, washing floors, helping to load wood, painting and scraping various homes,…..you name it, I did it. There are few chores I have not tackled in some fashion, including picking rock and walking beans. My parents insisted at an early age that hard work was of utmost value. I wonder sometimes if hard work is as necessary as “heart” work.

You see, it’s easy to allow myself to be swallowed up in the work and performing each of those chores and role to the best of my ability, even pushing myself harder to achieve more, do more, and be more.  It’s especially easy to lose myself in a role, to put on another character or person and hide in their skin for awhile.  It’s easy to “be” someone else, to escape inside another world and forget for a time that reality exists.  I got really really good at this.

I also got really really good at depending on performance and excelling at that.  I craved the attention that high performance brought me.  Like a drug, I wanted another trophy like an addict wants another hit.  I wanted another  title, another win, another role as much as I needed to breathe to stay alive.

I also yearned for the esteem it brought me.    With every trophy I brought home, I would see a glimpse of the affirmation I wanted, needed, desired.  It was really the only time that I felt I was noticed…well noticed for something positive.  I was never a “bad” kid, just stubborn, headstrong, uncontrollable, mouthy, dramatic, and countless other adjectives.  Inside another role, I could crawl into their life and portray their struggles, oblivious of those lurking for me.  Inside the applause and the smiles when I had performed well, I could cloak myself in approval and what I thought was love.  Was it love, was it approval, was it really popularity?  Probably not.

Now, in my mid-thirties, I wonder if all that concentration on performance is really all that necessary?  Will I lose the love of my children and other people if I do not exceed all expectations?  Are they their expectations or ones I have placed on myself?  I believe the latter is true.

I have been toying with a couple book ideas, a storytelling gig, and countless other dreams….I keep stalling.  I have asked myself the cause of the stall?  Plain and simple fear of not meeting expectations, mine or anyone else’s.   What happens if I do not live up to my own standards–what if I can’t write the next “Great American Novel“?  What if I am only mediocre and the dreams I have of bright lights and big city are only pipe dreams?  Better yet, what if concentrating on those are the wrong concentrations?  The more entrenched I become in the working I am doing in various jobs, the more I realize going after the bright lights is rather selfish of me.  It would be another moment of craving the applause and admiration, then at the end of the day, what do I have left?

I am accepting this more and more, understanding that achievement comes in different forms.  My sons love me unconditionally, know that they are also loved unconditionally.  They are kind, compassionate, honest, smart, funny, and articulate young men who will grow into outstanding husbands and daddies.  I have friends and loved one who would walk through fire for me, and I for them.  I have an education and 2 degrees and a job with a non-profit that fills me with such joy, I cannot compare it to anything else I have experienced.  I am extremely blessed, one of these days I will shut off the applause valve playing in my ears, turn my head away from the lure of the audience, stand firm in what I know to be true, and try hard to be content with where I am in this moment of time.

Shalom,

cahl

 

 

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