Today, I had many things planned. I am currently checking my list off. All of the months of tomorrow are here. There are no more tomorrows.....it is time to get things done once and for all!
I was on my way to the library to work (in order to make the weight loss stick, I have to change my spaces and working at cafes is no longer an option for me as I was using cookies as bribes to myself to finish tasks....) when I received a call from my favorite teenager, Emma, asking me to join her for lunch. Emma and I have a special bond. I babysat her from the time she was born. I spent some vacations and summers with her family. We are 15 years apart in age, but we are super similar. We like the same music, the same food, the same clothes, the same movie stars, and we are both tall and statuesque women. We have both been teased many times for being big (tall ) and fat (over a size 8 in my community), she has been called a Sasquatch, where I was called an ogre.
SIDENOTE: If I looked like her in a bikini, I would never wear clothes. Teenagers are fools. Skinny is great, but the reality is that it is not the only acceptable body type out there.
Today, Emma had a half day from school. Today, she was ditched by a group of her "friends" that she was supposed to go to lunch with.
When she called me, I could hear the hurt in her voice. I know this very feeling. The way your heart can ache. The burn you get in your throat trying to hold back the tears and smile through it. The emptiness and anxiety that clouds your brain. I didn't hesitate for a moment. "Let's meet for lunch, anywhere you want, my treat."
As she sobbed into her burrito, I held her hand and told her all the things I WISH someone would have said to me. I shared, "It is only high school, none of this matters, seriously. Study and focus on you and college is all about starting over. Girls are mean. This town is tough. Mean girls grow into mean ladies and you are better than this. Be yourself and be true to your heart. If someone hurts you, then cross them off your list. Be kind to them, but don't trust them. There is more to life than this silly suburb. Grades first and then off to college being the girl you want to be."
When I moved back home with my folks a year and a half ago, my anxiety spiraled out of control. All of my best laid plans didn't exist anymore and I was lonely, embarrassed, and really uncomfortable. I hated high school. I had left this suburb at 18 years old and besides 6 weeks that I lived at home in between finishing college and starting my first real job, I never lived in the town I spent the later part of my childhood. Because I HATED it. Because I HATED the people. Because being home meant being reminded of the hurt and despair I felt in high school.
I have been hiding out for 18 months. That was hard to admit, but it is the truth. I don't go places I think I may see anyone from my past because I don't want to face it. I am almost ready to share one of my lowest moments to date regarding an absolute explosion of work and life that happened in September, but I am still processing it. I am still aching from it. It will be coming soon......I promise.
BUT, the rainbow in this (shit) storm of breaking up with Awful AND moving home was reconnecting with Emma. She was starting her sophomore year of high school when I moved back and she was going through lots of the same angst I had lived through at the very same high school. We started bonding over shared experiences and the advice I could give at age 30 was more relevant to her than anything her parents were sharing, even if it was mostly the same. Emma started helping me with my work, excelling at school, and last night was even inducted into The National Honors Society. Her parents tell me I gave her this confidence and I believe it. Her life turned around when I came home. I can't think of a better compliment and I do think our reconnection was meant to be.
Being close to Emma allows me to press the reset button a bit. To live vicariously through a young gal who may have ended up in a pit of self doubt, self hate, and low self esteem like me, but didn't. She picked right when I chose left at that fork in the road and she is making better decisions at 17 than I ever did. She has helped me put closure on high school. On the 4 years of my life I wish I could do over. On the time that I picked popularity over everything else.....and it only got me right back home at age 30 with only 1 real friend from high school.
Over the weekend, Crush was looking through old photos and stumbled upon a few of my high school friends. Even though I explained previously, that high school wasn't my favorite time, he was curious about them, wanted to know what they were up to, and wasn't taking the hint that I didn't want to talk about it. After continuing to ask me several questions about them, I finally snapped, "I have no idea, they are all crazy bitches...." Indeed, by my reaction, I was the only crazy bitch.
But, there is a part of me that is still a bit angry. I was such a cool person then. I was also innocent. I had no idea of my potential and I closed a few doors in the process because I didn't believe in myself. Because I listened and took very seriously the critiques thrown my way: fat, stupid, annoying, and ugly. I even believed I was a slut and a possible lesbian because the girls in my grade told me I was even though I didn't have any real sexual experiences until after high school and never thought of girls as anything, but friends.
The things I was accused of, they weren't true and the way I felt I had to act, that wasn't me.
As I munched on my salad today, I told Emma a piece of advice that I hope stays with her:
"Nothing now really matters unless you let it. I let people hurt me, I allowed myself to be broken by girls I never really respected. I wasted so many years of my life being angry. Please do what you can to not end up like me, to not end up hateful of things that happened half a lifetime ago. If you don't like the game, don't play it. In 1 year (she is graduating early), none of this matters, so in the meantime, become yourself. Crack your shell open and be the person your truly are inside."
I have a feeling that she will listen.
Now, I have to follow my own advice.
I have to close these doors and lock them and not take any past issues with me down South.
I deserve better, just like Emma.