I never really thought much about the terms used for the process of regaining one's life. You know, like healing and recovery mostly. I am sure that there have to be people who are healed and/or recovered, although I am not sure that it could ever be just one of them. They seem essential to whatever the heck we are doing.
So, even though I have been PTSDing all over the place, there was a minute on Saturday when I was calmer and breathing and was back in the realm of coherent thought. I thought, it is going to be so nice when I have recovered and all of my triggers are gone. When I am not thrust back into past experiences by what I read in a novel or listen to some otherwise innocuous comment that one of my friends makes at coffee on Saturday, something completely unrelated to me, but triggering just the same.
Some day when a particular string of notes or tempo in a song will not put me back there. I am really looking forward to that time, although I guess that if the triggers are not happening, that I will not notice their absence. The triggers will be gone when there are no scabs to be pried off.
For no good reason high school popped into my head. Those years were neither super or horrible, despite what was going on at home. I had friends, but, like most students, did not fit into any of the social groups. I knew kids from all over the spectrum, the colliges (smart), the hoods (think denim jackets, pre-black leather days), nerds (I was closest to that group, and this was prior to geeks), the athletes.
There were the ever-present cheerleaders and sports superstars and they were part of the popular crowd, although there was not any name for them that I can remember. They were pretty much what everyone else aspired to be and knew that they did not have a chance of elevating themselves.
I was also a band member, which is a kind of geek. The other music department groups were better than us band members, especially the choirs, who were comfortable mentioning at a moment's notice that anyone can play an instrument, but only a few can sing. There is not any reply that will not make you be more apparently geeky.
And, it is like life, you cannot be friends with everyone, or even like them because not everyone is going to like you. I have suffered, self-inflicted, with the struggle and desire to be liked for all of my life. That is not exactly true, what I wanted was for everyone to love me. It does not need a genius to figure out why, but I think this is true for most people.
The people who shine do, the rest of us try to not be blinded by their glory.
Factor in that I am not attractive and I learned early that in order to have friends I had to be the best kind of friend possible, giving, listening and supportive. I did not have the social skills to properly do that, but it never interfered with trying my best. I have continued this practice into adulthood and most of the time it serves me well, socially and in the family, but not so much in a personal sense.
Just like most people.
Anyway, I had a yearning to connect with that time, so I came on-line and looked for my high school yearbook. A mostly weird experience, with most of the sites asking for a fee.
So, fees. I refuse to pay for anything extra. I will pay bills in person (not possible to do up here now) rather than spend a stamp to mail it. If I am at a restaurant and something I would like is an extra cost, I do without. I never buy the best of anything, but that is another, very long story.
So, anyway, I kept looking until I found the whole darn thing on a site. The images were not great and I could not read any of the text, or identify anyone in the group pictures, or the names beneath the individual photos, but I was able to identify the people I knew, and one of those was me.
I had passed my part of the alphabet and was picking out people I had as friends before I though to find my photo. I was easy to find. I thought, I recognize you, but where are you? Where did that girl go? Probably the response that most people would have. We are not remotely the same person we were last month, much less half a century ago.
I keep going back and looking at that picture. That girl was pretty, in a nicely pretty way. I married two years after that photo was taken and I am guessing I still had most of that prettiness, although I was way too skinny. Uh, no problems with that now.
That girl was a truly crappy student. She remembers being astounded to have scrabbled enough grades to graduate, positive that she would be able to do so.
That girl played coronet and french horn in the band, although she dropped each of them at least once, and was part of the back stage crew for a few plays. That girl was able to do those things because her mother favored her (for not great reasons) and used her participation at school to hurt other people in the family not so privileged. That girl was clueless for most of those years, but even when she figured it out she kept accepting that favor. She regretted all of that then, but not enough to stop taking the favors. She is to-the-bone ashamed of it now.
I remember the day that photo was taken. My mother had given my sister and myself some of her clothes to wear. Mine was a soft white cardigan, the kind rich people wear, with small pearl buttons. I remember waiting for my turn and sitting on the stool in front of the backdrop. I remember the photographer telling me to tilt my head; tilt more. Smile. Hold your head and smile. And, I did and I did not look too bony and my face shows a girl who is happy.
I remember that life then was not all bad. There were good times. There were even plenty of times when the good stuff was not going to be turned into a debt that had to be repaid in not so good times.
I remember loving my parents, despite all the other stuff, but I mostly remember how much I loved my brothers and sisters. I remember being the person who hid and protected them when our parents were behaving dangerously. I remember being led into their bedroom by my stepfather and that what I did there would influence what happened to all of us outside of that room. I feel just as sick now as I did then, but I also feel that I needed to comply and the years have allowed me to block most of it. That is a blessing, and I am grateful.
And, of course, that led me to all of the years that followed. It feels right to remember and honor all of the good times in my life, especially my marriage. That rightness transcends honestly, it keeps anyone from becoming a monster, because I do not believe in monsters of the human behavior kind. The most heinous act upon another person is never excusable, never allowable, and most likely never forgiven. Lots of thinks happen in our lives that deserve, at least eventually, forgiveness, which is mostly about doing it for our selves and our own well-being and growth. Forgiving the other person is nice, but I sometimes wonder where it resides in the equation.
Nothing in life, not a crappy childhood or marriage, is all one thing.
I saved that photo image of that girl. I cropped and stretched and it is my desktop image. I am going to try to remember that it is possible to smile and look happy because even in the depths of suffering, there are moments when happiness rises.
I am going to try to remember that lying in order to facilitate safety is not the worst thing a person can do to survive. Absolutely not the worst thing to experience, and that carrying shame for lying to protect yourself just adds to the suffering and is a barrier to healing and recovery, and, man, do I ever need to keep that process moving along. Just chugging and huffing along.
I am going to remember a lot of things that suffering made me forget or block and I am going to honor suffering because it has made me appreciate and be grateful for, well, for just about everything.
And, I am going to remember and think about that girl until I have a better understanding of who she was and where she has gone.