This past weekend I stepped way out of my comfort zone by going to a high school reunion. It wasn’t a reunion for graduating classes, it was for anyone that went to the school prior to 1979.
I didn’t finish high school or get an education until much later in life, and figured I’d never get the chance to go to a reunion, but it definitely was on my bucket list. I always thought that it would be a cheerful event and that everyone would be happy to see me, but I forgot that I made myself pretty invisible in high school.
My parents split on September 1, 1975; days before my first day of high school. With the hours my mother had to work, my brothers and I were left to raise ourselves. I won’t go into it, but I will tell you it was incredibly hard.
I struggled with high school, especially with math and science, and with my father not being around, I didn’t get much help with homework. I failed grade 9 math and science and had to take both of them over in grade 10. When grade 10 was coming to a close and I was still struggling to pass grade 9 math and science, I ended up dropping out; not before speaking to my parents about getting a tutor, but they said money was tight and they couldn’t afford it. Instead, they told me to focus on finding a husband and starting a family, so I did. I was married and had my first child before I turned 21.
But I digress...
There I was at my high school reunion, sitting with my husband; the man I had gone to school with but didn’t marry until 8 years ago. The two of us had snuck in the back door of the restaurant and instead of sitting with the group from our high school, we chose a seat by the bar; well away from everyone. Gary with his back to the group, and me sitting, staring straight at it.
As I sat there surveying the group, trying to see if there was anyone I recognized, it totally took me back to what life was like back then. Everyone was having fun, hugging each other, laughing, and saying how great it was to see each other... and there I was hiding, just like I used to. Sitting in the back corner, in the dark, disconnected from everyone.
I felt like I didn’t fit in. I had a really crappy home life and I can’t tell you how many times I ran away from home because of it. There I was, trying to be a kid and get an education when I didn’t even know where I was going to wake up! Most often, I was wearing the same clothes as the day before because I’d run late trying to figure out which bus I needed to take to get myself to school, so that I wouldn’t get written up.
Fitting in and being able to just be a kid, was difficult to say the least! I didn’t have much time to develop friendships because I always seemed to be running, but as I got older I somehow convinced myself that everything was good growing up, and that I’d had lots of friends back in school.
Four decades later, sitting in the back of the bar that used be part of my old stomping ground, staring at a group of people I didn’t even recognize made me realize something. The people I had fallen in love with were just faces in a Grade 8 graduation picture. I had made up most of my friendships because my life was so dysfunctional back then, and I needed to protect that little girl.
Sitting there helped me to realize that I’m not that little girl anymore and I haven’t been for years. The person I am now - the person I’ve become - is so far removed from that girl. She is stronger than just about anybody I know and the next time I feel the need to connect with a friend from high school, I’m just going to look in the mirror.
Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.