Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why God Made High School Reunions

Tomorrow, I return to part of my past by attending my 40th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION!
Yes, there were high schools back then.....

It's scary because....... well, if you've read any of my past blog posts, you know that high school was not the pretty shiny time of my life like it was on Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, My Three Sons, and Hazel.

These are the negative things I associate with that time in my life:
* Abject terror that my mother was going to die while I was at school.  I used to feign passing out in order to get to go home and check on her.  When that quit working, I became the filterless person that I am today and went and told my high school counselor that I had to go home because my mother was drunk and she might be dying, yada, yada, yada.
* Invisibility.  Everybody knows that I was invisible in high school.  If they didn't know it then because..... well, I was invisible.......  they know it now because I repeatedly say I was.  I had three true friends at my high school - Shawnna, Sara, and Becki.  They were able to see me.  You know, see ME.  I had other peripheral friends that I think sometimes could see through my invisibility cloak but not often.
* Extreme shyness.  And it wasn't shyness born out of introvertedness (I made up that word).  It was shyness born out of the sense of not having anything worthwhile to offer anyone.  Not being worth knowing.
* FEARFEARFEAR!  Fear of sickness, fear of death, fear of loss, fear of throwing up in class, fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of people getting mad at me, fear of being alone, fear of being with people.  If you've never experienced generalized anxiety, you won't know what I'm talking about.

This is the only positive thing I associate with that time in my life:
*Salvation through finding Alateens - the 12-Step Program for children of alcoholics.  Through Alateens, I began the process of removing my invisibility cloak.  Joe and Junior and Jan and Russ and Tony and Jane and Sam and Linda all saw ME.   And they helped me learn that I did have some worth.  It took a long time to get there, but Alateens is where it began.

I was about to write that my school career started normal, but on second thought.............
 This is me on my first day of first grade.  I bawled so much that my daddy ended up going to school with me for the whole morning.  (He went to school with me after he told my mom "if Jenny doesn't want to go to school, by God, she doesn't have to!")

But I adjusted through the year, made friends.....

..... and got to have the end-of-school party in my back yard.

But, in 3rd grade, my daddy, my champion/protector/hero, died.  And the doctor told my mom to make herself a high ball to help her sleep.  And my life began to unravel.

Here's my third grade class picture.  I'm the third one from the left on the front row with the crooked bangs and the vacant eyes.  That was the beginning of the development of my invisibility cloak.

By 5th grade, I was so invisible that I can't even tell you who my teacher was.
 In fact, I'm not even sure this was 5th grade.  May have been 6th.  I don't remember who my teacher was that year either.  All I know about this picture is that my mom was too impaired to help me do any school projects - or homework for that matter - and our neighbor Verna Cooke, put specifically into my life by God, found me this costume for my report on Mexico. 

My mother's drinking got worse and worse and I got more and more little/tiny/invisible/worthless.

By high school, I think I was like a video game character who needs more "life".  I think I blinked on and off - very faint and hard to see...

Then, after the summer from Hell (first date, first slobbery kiss, mom's alcoholic convulsions and psychiatric hospitalization), Alateens found me.  Alateens saved me.
I wore pretty pants and sang a song at a talent show with hottie Alan Burke.

 I found a little sparkle.  OK, maybe it was a crush on one of the Alateen guys from Monterey, but it was still a sparkle.  And the reason I said "on one of the Alateen guys from Monterey" was because, well..... I had crushes on them all.

But.... back to the purpose of this post:

I believe God made high school reunions so we could go back and stand up the emotional boogey-men.  I'm not invisible anymore - though that teenage girl is alive and well (and scared) inside of me.   I'm not shy anymore.   I feel like I have something to offer others now.  I am visible.  

Going to this reunion is funnyscaryhilariousinsane because I don't know most of the people.  When you're invisible, your vision becomes very cloudy and you don't see things so well yourself.  Most of the people don't know me.  Out of my true high school friends... Becki is dead, Sara's whereabouts are unknown (though being the social worker/sleuth/nosy person I am, I am just on the verge of finding her), and Shawnna is busy doing something else. 

But, you know what?  These people are just ..... people.  What I'm finding out is that many of them had similar feelings to mine.  But, as a child, I only knew to compare my insides with other people's outsides......  They looked a lot happier than I felt

I'm so grateful to social networking, in particular Facebook, for giving me an avenue to get to know some of the people that I was too scared to know in high school.  Plus, like I keep saying, they couldn't find me BECAUSE I WAS INVISIBLE!  

It's like a second chance.  

I'm looking forward to going to the reunion tomorrow night.  I know that little Jenny will be trying to take control and will probably be doing a lot of whining about stepping out of her comfort zone, but.....

I'll take care of her.


1 comment:

  1. Well - the reunion is over and the Jenny that I saw was this beautiful, funny, crazy, cool person that I DID remember from high school! Wish I had been a better friend back then but I am so glad that I am a friend now! CactusKate