I did not recognize it until the next day, but I went into PTSD (C-PTSD) symptoms. Anxiety filled me, as well as irritability, I was shaking/shivering, cold, nauseous and I started to fixate on facebook. I made myself get off, I had tears, all the sudden I felt ugly, worthless, depressed, panicked at noise, everything became loud and buzzing. I could not eat and I could not sleep. I felt alone and scared. It was not until the next morning that it all made sense when I was still having those symptoms. They were intensified because I had not slept in a couple of days and because of my confusing interaction with Joshua’s teacher, but at least I was able to understand what was happening.
My high school days were some of the most painful and confusing times.
I was in an abusive relationship for three years of my stint in that school. However, I was unaware that I was being abused. I knew that my unnameable fears and anxieties were at high levels during that time. I was stalked; my personal space and time were continually violated. Other girls who called me things like “slut” and “whore” bullied me. There were rumors spread about me that were vile, I found out later that my boyfriend said many of them at the time, or my so called friends. While I sat at home babysitting my sisters taking care of the household because my mom worked 50-60 hours a week, and my step dad at the time was a drug using, drug selling, womanizing lazy jerk, there were claims that I was out partying and hooking up with numerous guys. Nice.
Many other things happened too.
I felt like I had to continually watch my back. Several girls hated me and I did not know why. Many guys confused me. My teachers did not change their attitude toward me either. I had two teachers who ever said anything positive to me. My U.S. History teacher, who said that he knew that I was much smarter than I let on and my literature teacher who said she wanted to see me in advanced literature. She was impressed with my writing skills and with my major assignment that I did on “Death.” My economics teacher did compliment me because of my hard work on a stock exchange project we did. I did get an award for that – I just remembered that.
It is hard to remember any good memories because there were so many traumatic ones.
In my home life, my social life, and at school. I had no safe place anywhere. I was in the vice-principles office often. Either for skipping class or smoking. I was in the nurses office a lot too because I always felt sick. They never asked me why, they always assumed I just did not want to go to class because I was a delinquent. I could not tell them that a math teacher made fun of me all the time in front of the class. He was the football coach and found it amusing to mock me when I asked questions. I could not tell them that the P.E. teacher found it amusing to measure my BMI and then proceed to call me obese. (He said that he was joking.) When I was maybe 120 pounds. That was a great thing to say to a teenage girl who had a boyfriend who was already calling her fat.
I dropped down to 100 pound by the next years.
I could not tell them that I skipped and hid in the bathroom because I found a huge bag of marijuana in my step dad’s coat pocket one day and I just needed to be alone to try and process what to do. Or that my boyfriend accused me of cheating on him. Or that my mom woke me up at three in the morning demanding that I do the dishes even though we had no dish soap so I was forced to use powdered laundry detergent. I could not tell them that the boys made derogatory comments to me that half the time I did not understand so I did not want to be in class. I could not tell them that several girls in another class that I was in threatened me.
No one listened and I did not know how to be heard.
When I tried to tell my story, they did not believe me or thought that I was being unruly because I could not get my words out. This caused me to have meltdowns, one major one with screaming, hitting, and raging in the office. IN ADDITION, when that happened I recall at least once being asked if I was having my period. That is not even the half of my life that happened while in that school. I understood how important it was for me to go and turn my thoughts into positives. I really wanted to see my niece perform. I wanted to be there for my sister, and I wanted to see my dad and step mom. I decided this time around I was not going to internalize my fears. I shared a little on facebook to get it out. It gave me the strength to text my dad and tell him that I was having problems because of all the negatives I had associated with that place.
Thankfully, he was supportive along with my sister and step mom.
They did not make a big deal out of it, but I could tell they were trying to “be there” for me. My dad met us in the parking lot. The school looked so tiny and not scary at all. It felt very different walking in there with my kids. It had only a momentary affect on me. When I looked down the hallways, my lung filled with heavy air. It smelled the same; I saw my locker when I was a senior. I saw the hallway where my other locker was when I was a freshman. The foreboding left as quickly as it came when I walked into the auditorium. It was where I had been in a beauty pageant. I discovered that pageants were not my type of thing, but I had positive memories of that day. I had memories flood of when I was in choir and my performances.
Eww, and that horrible electric blue dress we all had to wear that one year!
It made me laugh. We sat into the front row and all three kids did great. They sat the entire time and relaxed in the semi-dark to some tunes. Daniel asked a bunch of questions, but he did an amazing job at sitting there and trying to be quiet. He enjoyed himself. During the performance, I noticed that the woman I had talked to about music therapy was there. She recognized me and came up to me afterwards. She said that they have been working on a project to start “Sensory Friendly” concerts. She said, after watching Daniel she knew that it would be a great project to start. We talked for a little bit longer about the summer schedule for music therapy and went on our way.
It was a positive social interaction for me (with a woman) in my old school.
The whole thing was positive. When we were leaving, my dad decided that he wanted a picture of my locker on the way out. Another guy, went by the lockers with his wife and he had the locker next to me. I did not remember him at all so I think he was a couple of years before me, but I am not sure. I am not sure I would remember many faces from my school days. I took a picture of the kids in the hallway to help melt away the past memories of those hallways being filled with negatives.
Their smiling faces consumed them.
I walked out feeling a little more whole than I had before. It felt good. I could finally, look at the building and feel peace. I feel a little teary eyed right now in a strange sort of way. It feels as though I have lost a large chunk of my identity, but that I have gained a large part at the same time. I think I am going to be able to pull out some positive memories from school soon, after all of these negatives ones settle their voices. I knew coming back home was going to be challenging and liberating – I am glad that I am here.
A few resources.