Shannon

During my pre-teen years I was short, twiggy and wore thick Coke-bottle bottom glasses. I felt painfully awkward in social settings, so I usually could be found with my nose in a book. Bully fodder. That was what I was growing up.

In fifth grade, I was singled out by one girl in particular. She went to great lengths to find me alone to whisper threats into my ear. I ignored them. She’d give me long, lingering, menacing stares. I ignored them. Inside, I was terrified, but I tried my best to stand my scrawny ground. I never said a word. One day, she decided to push me off the sidewalk leading from the playground back to class. I didn’t say a word as I picked myself up and continued walking, but our teacher saw it happen. She asked me what happened. I said nothing. She asked her what happened and she said the same. Our teacher marched us both into the library and told us we were not allowed to leave until we were friends. She left me alone with my tormentor. The funniest thing happened. She and I became friends. She had lots to say and I was a good listener. She had lots of opinions and I was non-judgmental. She hated our teacher and I humored her complaints. She and I were friends until she graduated early in 1988. During middle school, we saw each other through some serious personal trials. Hers centered around her mental instability and mine around some serious family dysfunction. We held each other up when others could not understand. We were completely loyal to each other.

My senior year of high school was particularly stressful. By this time, my friend had graduated and we’d drifted apart. As soon as I graduated and went to college, I left my home city and never looked back. I didn’t abandon my family – they moved to a different city too, so I had no need to return to the site of such painful memories. I finally went back for my 10 year high school reunion. I looked for her, but she wasn’t there. I didn’t pursue it further. I recently went back for part of my 20 year reunion and was shocked to find out that she committed suicide sometime before our last reunion. I felt like a part of me was ripped away when I heard the news. The saddest part? Nobody could tell me what happened. So few of them really knew her. It’s been several days since the reunion and all I’ve carried away from it is that somebody very important – to me – is missing… forever.

I am doing a lot of reconciling right now. It has been over 20 years since I’ve thought about a lot of things, happy and painful things. I find myself in a position right now that I have to re-experience everything. You see, my husband, children and I are moving back to the same city (the same area to be more precise) where all of this occurred. I see familiar faces and places and memories explode into my head. I reconnect with old friends and my high school sweetheart and I feel ashamed that I abandoned them. So much time has passed. How can I explain that I had to get away to heal my bullied soul? How will my healed and stronger self face all those painful memories?

Which way do you swing?

A friend send me this link recently, and I’ve discovered that I swing both ways. That makes sense. Given the traits of right and left brain function, I can see that I identify with 10 qualifies in each category. It’s kinda fun to make her “sway” from left to right.

Pruning

I’m no gardener. I’ve known this about myself for a long time. I don’t attempt to decorate my house with thriving bunches of foliage. I know they will die a horrible death. My nurturing energies are directed toward my family, pets and friends. In that regard, I’ve got a gorgeous “bouquet” to show you.
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Spring Cleaning

I’ve been doing a lot of mental housecleaning.  I’ve got too much going on and my feeble brain cannot retain it all.  My “cleaning” method is to revisit, mourn and get past it.  It’s amazing… and may not be for everyone.  I’ve been holding grudges for years, maybe even since birth and I just don’t have room for them anymore.  There are some that I’ve had tucked away and secured so well that I am unable to reach them yet.  Maybe one day I will.  Maybe I won’t.  Needless to say, I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster lately.  I hope I am stronger for it in the end.

Beauty

Advertising is generally lost on me. Print or media, it doesn’t matter. My eyes gloss over and my ears convert every upbeat note into WAH WAH WAH WAH WAH — just like in the Peanuts comic strip. Cosmetics? breakfast cereal? beer? cars? fast food? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Until recently. A few months ago I was flipping through a magazine and came across an ad that took my breath away. Truly. I didn’t rush out to buy the product, but my heart soared at the refreshing advertising “gimmick.” Have you seen it? I’m talking about Dove. Print ads show six beautiful women wearing nothing but their undies. The gimmick? Beautiful, in this case, is found in average women. They are short, tall, healthy, curvacious, young, mature… just like us! The commercial on TV expands to show older women, pregnant women and even a women with a cesarean scar. Beautiful. They got my attention. So last week while numbly flipping channels, I saw a new Dove campaign. Instantly I perked up. Their new commercial had me practically jumping for joy. Have you seen this one? Several beautiful young girls are shown with blips like “Hates her freckles” and “thinks she’s ugly.” Ouch. How many of us had those thoughts growing up? How many of us still have them? Advertising! I tell you my heart is still racing. So…I’m in. I’ll buy it!! Alas, I am still not going to purchase the firming cream — I’m talking about the push for a new “beauty” image. Dove’s Campaign for Beauty is so provocative to me. Do I dare say they get it? I’m hoping this at least brings the issue to the table and gets people talking. They may be trying to sell firming cream, but to me they are selling self-esteem and I can’t think of a more precious thing to have, for myself or my daughters.

I’m Angry

Over the winter school break, five teens in my area decided to steal one of daddy’s cars and go joy-riding. Fair enough. I think we all did stupid stuff when we were 13-15 (and 16 and 17 and 18 and 21 and 25 and 35…). You would expect them to get busted, grounded and reminded of it when they turn into parents of teens, right? Not in this case. On this night, the 14 year old unlicensed driver decided it would be funny to try to scare the others in the vehicle by driving at a very high rate of speed and jerking the steering wheel. He hit a curb, plowed into a tree and the car burst into flames. He died that night. Four others were able to get out of the car. One more died this past weekend. He lived on my block. I did not know him personally. My kids are three years old and under, so the 14 year old set doesn’t bat an eye our way when passing us on the sidewalk.

Life isn’t supposed to be complicated or tragic for children. Tell me you didn’t do stupid things when you were a teenager. Tell me you haven’t done stupid things as an adult. I’d like to think I’m not the only one. And I’d like to think that by God’s grace I’ve had the opportunity to learn (or not) from the things I’ve done. I have no regrets in life because I think I am an amazing compilation of goofs and triumphs that makes up “me.” But not everyone is lucky enough to look back on life like this.

So what do I do? What would you do? There is nothing to do. You can talk a blue streak to your kids, but ultimately it is up to them to make wise or foolish decisions. What you say does matter, but during those years of growth spurts and explosive hormones unfortunately, what their friends say matters too.

I wish this were the only thing that’s keeping me up at night, but it’s not. The other thing is that my own child has had her fair share of obstacles to deal with in her short life. She’s an ebullient, brilliant, beautiful ball of energy who struggles with focus issues… in a nutshell, she’s an intense little lady for three years of age. We know her triggers and we are constantly working on ways to introduce her to resources to help her solve problems or handle new situations with the least amount of stress. That’s my job and I am grateful to have it and I wouldn’t change her for the world. Unfortunately, my job just got harder. She’s been having seizures. Three in the past week, to be exact. Not the scary kind (grand mall) or the kinda get your wondering kind (Petit mal or absence seizures), but seizures nonetheless. I’m not a medical doctor (or any kind of doctor), but the symptoms most closely resemble this: Benign Rolandic Epilepsy. If this is indeed what she has, it should hopefully resolve by puberty (GREAT! Just in time for her to make stupid mistakes). If not, we should know more after our trip to the pediatric neurologist (pending scheduling on their end). It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of her world, but I’m angry nonetheless.

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Linda has graciously offered to open up her space for me to share my thoughts with you. I’ll tell you in all honesty that I am slightly terrified. I’m not sure I have much to say of interest, but when I (think I) do, it’s usually passion that drives me to discussion. And you – lucky you! – are now privilege to the things that keep me up at night.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. I am a Native Texan. I spent most of my life in Central Texas, attended the University of Texas at Austin (though I never crossed paths with Linda, unfortunately), moved out of state briefly and returned to start a family. I am now happily married with two small children, and possess all of the neat stuff that goes along with that: sleep deprivation, a soft stomach, an SUV, a diaper bag with enough extra stuff to get us through almost any natural disaster and a cell phone loaded with numbers of other mommies with whom I can coordinate playgroups, brag and commiserate. I currently live in Bible Belt suburbia.

I don’t usually share my opinions about many issues with people around me because they end up wanting to bless my heart or pray for me to come over to the light (half joking). I have a high intolerance for intolerance – and that is not very common in my area.

Linda has assured me that writing will be cathartic. I’m thrilled to have an outlet for some of the things I keep locked in my head. Please feel free to bless my heart or pray for me 🙂