Not long ago, my BDCo cohort Geni wrote a blog about scars or “tattoos” from our life stories. Recently I have had a couple of close encounters with my past that have caused me to, somewhat unwillingly, revisit parts of my own life story.
The chain of events was placed in motion in February when I was contacted by a former classmate with whom I had kept in touch regarding the upcoming reunion of my high school graduating class. I was promptly added to the reunion group on a popular social media site and, being like the fish who sits at the back of the tank watching others float by, I pretty much figured that would be that.
The first encounter was a sweet acknowledgement of my introduction into the group with the response of “Would that be the blonde, bright, and beautiful Terry Hollenstain?” from one of the guys. I was touched by a follow up comment disclosing that he had had a “huge” crush on me during our sophomore year. The things you never knew…..
Then things got a little weird. I received a friend request from a woman who was the ringleader of a group of girls who had bullied me from sixth through ninth grades. To put it mildly, I was stunned and ignored the request to “friend”. I asked my good friend Katherine (who happens to be a social worker) what she thought this meant, and she responded that my ex and would-be friend probably did not remember how she had treated me so many years ago.
No such luck. Shortly thereafter, while I was checking my messages on this site I noticed a little “other” below the main message bar. When I opened it there was a mail from my “friend” which read in part:
“I have been thinking a lot lately about old friends. I remember you and how we were all so close in grade school. Then in Jr. High how nasty we all were to you…and I’m so very sorry about that! Don’t remember how or why it happened, but I was all caught up in the peer pressure of it all. Hope you can forgive my youthful thoughtlessness and be my friend again? I truly am sorry for my behavior way back then.”
While I can acknowledge the courage that it took to send this note, it unfortunately brought back a lot of memories that I had long ago put away in some box (Pandora’s?) in my mental attic. Even more unfortunately, this happened during tax season when I need to focus all of my energies on work. Those memories are now tucked back into their box and are moving once again to the back of my mental attic.
The reason that I am writing all of this down now is that last week the body of a missing teenage girl was found in a local state park. She had apparently committed suicide over some romantic misadventure. Every time I hear about something like this, I have wished that I could do something.
Being the survivor of failed relationships and having been bullied for an extended period of time, I wish that I could somehow tell these suffering young people that as much pain as they are currently in, they will survive. Yes, they will have memories and scars, but if they just wait a while I can speak from experience that they will get past their current trauma. Like me, they will be able to tuck their history into a box, close it and put it away, and move forward comfortably (most of the time) wearing the tattoos that life has given them.