Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Senior Year: 20 Years Later

I don't think of myself as much of a worrier.  I don't get very anxious about much.  I consider myself an emotional person- but not someone who frets a lot.

But there is something coming up that I am feeling some anxiety about.

My 20 year high school reunion.

The cool thing is that the majority of the class is connected on Facebook and we are excitedly chatting about plans and seeing one another and people are flying in from all over the country to be there.

But in the back of my mind... I have my own personal elephant in the room.  And maybe no one else sees it.

I don't care that I'm not skinny like I was in high school.

I don't care that I'm not blond like I was in high school.

But as my long time readers know, my senior year was fraught with some personal drama.  Go read that post - it might be important to know that piece of my history.

I have no idea what my fellow classmates thought of me at the end of my senior year.  I was gone for most of the final quarter of school.  I was focused on surviving.

To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure people knew I was gone.  I had a small group of friends and they supported me during my hospitalization.

But when someone is put into a mental hospital, not too many people know how to respond or what to say or if they should even say anything.

So now I am this whole and healthy person.  I'm pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

But the person I was in the past left high school in a very fragile state.  And spent high school as a very broken person.

And to be fair, when my classmates are sharing some of their memories... I'm at a loss.  Not because I wasn't there.  But because my brain doesn't work quite the same way and I don't have a lot of those memories in storage.

It was a huge and painful and scary part of my life.

Part of me worries that my classmates remember me as that broken person who got put into the looney bin.

Part of me worries that my classmates don't even remember that I missed most of our last quarter of our senior year.

I will go and I will simply be myself because that is really all I can do - and it's what I'm good at and it's pretty much what I do all the time anyway.

And I remind myself that my classmates probably had their own things going on in their own lives that they were focused on.  I was completely focused on my own survival so I wouldn't have noticed someone else going through trauma.  And someone else going through trauma might not have even noticed me going through mine.

The reunion planners sent out a survey to everyone.  They asked the basic question - what have you been up to since graduation?  What a hard question to answer.  I answered with the standard "went to college, moved away, got married, had kids" type of answer.  I don't know that the reunion committee wanted my real answer...

"I continued in therapy after graduation.  In fact, I had to change my college plans to stay close to home and therapist and mental health resources so ended up at a very good local college instead of going away to Chicago as planned.  I stayed in the day program at the hospital for that summer after graduation and continued to see my therapist into my sophomore year of college.  I had wonderful friends who were very supportive of my craziness.  College was were I did truly "find myself" because I had finally confronted the demons of my past.  I have a failed first marriage because I thought I needed the safety net of a "normal life" and that meant husband and house in the 'burbs. But he was a porn addict and the marriage fell apart within a few years.  I focused on work and theatre - and soon met my true spouse, Jeff. We did theatre together. We got married. We got pregnant. We had a miscarriage.  I re-found my relationship with God. We got pregnant again and started our family.  And here we are.  Life is that "image" of normal - husband, 2 kids, a dog, living in the 'burbs.  But this time, I came upon it rather than trying to make it fit what I thought I wanted.  So life is good and full of love and friends and laughter - even amidst the stresses and let downs and life lessons."

Come October, I am going to step into a room of people that I haven't seen in 20 years (except for my friend Katy who now goes by Kathryn).  I am going to swallow my nervousness and just do my best to be my friendly, outgoing, loving self and not fall back into the me-I-used-to-be.

Thin, blond, and filled with trauma.
Not thin, not blond and filled with love and joy.


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3 comments:

Jessica Nunemaker said...

I don't think people remember much of anything of high school after they are out. My 10 year reunion was small but no one really talked about high school at all. We just caught up with each other--whether we were friends before or not!

It was unexpectedly fun.

Karen M. Peterson said...

My 20th is next year and I am already stressing about whether or not I'm going to go.

Since you're already connected with so many of those old friends through Facebook, I'm sure you're going to have a great time catching up on where your lives are NOW rather than what they were like then. I'm sure most of those old classmates have things they don't want to remember about those days.

Garret Atherton said...

High school is a mostly a blur to me. I hated school. I never reminisce about any of it.

I like the brunette look better!