Depression, Mental Health

For Five Days……

I’ve been mulling something over for the past couple of weeks.  Each night when I go to bed, I’ve had the same thoughts.  I’m not sure what started me thinking about the words “For Five Days”, but I keep thinking those words over and over.  It seems as though I’ve been measuring everything in 5-day increments for a while and that length of time is just trying to tell me something.   And I know that when I start repeatedly thinking the same thing – there’s a reason for it.  And I don’t let it go until I have the answer.  Finally, the other night I woke up from a deep sleep and I knew the answer.  I knew what the five days meant and why that was so significant to me.

When I began my blog, I had a destination in mind.  I knew the incident that I was going to have to talk about at some point, but wasn’t really sure if I would ever be able to do it.  Is it time?  Do I dare?  Do I need to?  Is it just too much?  I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I’m going to try it.  This may never get posted, or it may be a long time from now when I’m able to post, but I’m going to begin the story.

This story is about a young girl – someone I’ve known all my life.  She had a rough beginning – lots of problems filled her days.  Alcoholic, abusive father.  Alcoholic mother who was abused by the father.   She had sisters who for some reason were spared the abuse.  Of course, they had to witness the abuse from the father, but luckily, never were the recipients.  Then, there was the young girl.  I never quite understood why she was the “chosen” one — the one child to receive the awful hate-filled verbal abuse, the painful physical abuse that included broken ribs, a concussion, and the many jabs and slaps and punches.  There is a reason she was chosen, but one that only the abuser knows.  In her mind, she was never smart enough, never good enough, never deserving.  In the beginning, she just took it.  Soon, she began to believe that she deserved it.  She wasn’t quite sure why, but she knew she deserved it.  So, she did nothing.

But, that’s not entirely true.  Even from an early age, she learned how to disassociate when things got bad.  One of her finest feats was that she learned to fly.  When things got really, really bad, she just closed her eyes, stretched out her arms, and she flew away.  Oh, the places she would visit!  She learned to love the mountains that she had never seen in real life, but had read about in so many books.  She would soar like an eagle, looking down on the world.  It was always full of normal people who lived in normal houses, and who were happy.  The mamas and the daddies loved the children and played with them.  This little girl would fly above them, watching with her eagle eyes, and she would wish that she could live that life.  Life as that eagle allowed her to be mighty and wise and all-seeing.  It allowed her to live in a world where things were good and beautiful and caring.  And then, she would have to land again, into the home where she was never good enough.  This went on for several years and she finally began to wonder why she had to accept that.  She slowly began to fight back – only with words, of course, but it was a way for her to fight.

And then, she reached the age where she discovered boys (or maybe the boys discovered her.  Whatever!)  Some of these boys treated her as though she did matter – that she was smart, funny, and worthy.  And that was all it took.  When she was with them, she was just a normal girl, like all her other friends.  And it was good.  She had found a way to be accepted.   She was so busy in her personal  life trying to hide the truth of her abuse from her friends that she jumped at the chance to be normal and to experience what she thought was love.  (Of course, it wasn’t, but since she had never experienced real love before, she did not know the difference.)  When she was finally allowed to date, a whole new world opened up for her.  Boys were fun.  They treated her like she mattered.  And it was good.

Then, came along one boy in particular.  Her father had never been really gung-ho with her dating at all, but this boy?  No way was his daughter going to date this boy!  He did not approve of his father’s line of work so there was no way HIS daughter was going to date THIS boy!  And let me tell you, there were some knock-down, drag out fights about his opinion of this boy and his father.  There were even some broken ribs involved, but since she had finally begun to revolt when he laid down the law, she decided that she was just not going to pay him any attention.  She was going to see this boy, no matter what it took.  And it took quite a bit of scheming at times. It finally reached a point where the girl knew that she really didn’t care for this boy as much as she should, based upon all the trouble it was causing, but her father WAS NOT going to win this fight!   No way!  She and the boy would “go steady” for a while and then he’d spy another cute thing and it would be over.  And then, he’d be back.  And then, they’d be over again.  And then, he’d be back.  She was always willing to take him back because she KNEW that her father disapproved.  And she was bound and determined that she was going to win!  No matter what it took!

And then, she met a knight in shining armor. He was kind.  He was sweet.  He had a wonderful family.  He was pretty darn cute.  He had a heart of gold.  And most importantly, he cared for her.  He really did.  And he didn’t mind letting others know how he felt about her.  AND, her father approved of this knight in shining armor.  Wholeheartedly approved!  So things were good.  Or so she thought.  However, her father was quick to remind her every chance he got that it would never last, that soon the boy would see that she wasn’t good enough for him and he would leave her.  But, the knight didn’t leave.  And things were good.  For a while.

Boy #1 still contacted her, still tried to see her, but she was determined to do things the right way.  She stayed away.  Until there was a tragedy in Boy #1’s life.  It was terrible and she did feel badly for him, but he was the past.  Her knight was her future.  And then……..her knight told her that she needed to see Boy #1 to tell him how sorry she was for the tragedy.  She didn’t want to.  She was afraid to, but her knight told her that it was the right thing to do.  Damn doing the right thing!  So, he picked her up for school one morning, but didn’t head to the school.  When she asked where they were going, he said he was taking her to Boy #1’s house so she could be there for him.  What a terrible, awful thing for him to do.  But, he was determined.  So, she went.  He said he’d pick her back up when it was time for school to be out.  She spent the day with Boy #1 and his family and in a way, her knight had been right.  It was the “right” thing to do, but oh, it was such a “wrong” thing to do, also.  She thought that after that day, things would go back to normal with her knight and they did for a while.

Then Boy #1 started calling and calling and calling and she fell for his sweet lines and began to see him again.  At this point, things got really confusing for her.  Her father was constantly telling her that her knight was too good for her, that they’d never last, and that she didn’t deserve anyone as good as a knight.  While he was yelling these words in her ear, Boy #1 was whispering his sweet nothings in her other ear.  And her knight was on the sidelines, still professing his love and devotion.  She had had 16 years of being told that she was not good enough and in her young, foolish heart she believed it.  She finally reached a point with her father that if he was so determined that she was “no good”, she’d show him what “no good” was.  She was tired of trying to please him and never being good enough.  If he was so set in his opinion of Boy #1, she decided that she was going to hurt her father just as much as he was hurting her.  So, she totally gave in to Boy #1.  Whatever happened would happen and her father was going to get what He deserved.  But, in the end, it was the young girl who was hurt the most.

It was now the end of January of her junior year of high school and it was apparent to her that there was a problem.  She had broken it off with Boy #1 and was dating her knight again.  How she was going to fix this, she had no idea.  Perhaps if she just ignored it, it would go away.  By the next month, she knew it was not going to go away.  What to do?  What to do?  She went to Boy #1 and told him of the problem and sure enough, he said it was her problem, not his.  He told her that he had just bought a new car and that in order to solve the problem, he would have to sell his car and there was no way he was going to do that!  Yep, those were his exact words.  It was either his car or fix the problem.  He chose the car.  She was devastated.  But, she still was not going to tell.  How could she?  She said nothing to her knight.

Secrets in a small town have a way of not staying secret.  This young girl got called into the Counselor’s office one day and she was asked if there was anything she wanted to talk about. Talk about?  Nope!  Not a thing.  The next week, she was called back.  Still nothing to talk about. This went on for several weeks and the counselor was not going to give up.  Week after week, she’d call the young girl in.  Week after week, the young girl would deny that there was anything wrong.  Finally, the counselor came right out and asked that terrible, awful question.  Are you pregnant?  “Good Lord, no.  Do you think I’d be sitting here alive if I were?  You know my father.”  Time was ticking away.  February. March. April.  Still not going to tell.  No matter what they say — she wasn’t telling.  Don’t know how she thought she was going to solve the problem, but she wasn’t going to tell.  Then, her knight told her that he’d heard something.  Oh, God, what was she going to do now?  At first, she denied it even to him, but sometime in May, she finally cracked.  He asked her what she was going to do.  She had no idea, but it was her problem and nobody else’s.  The counselor was still on her so to try to throw everyone off, the young girl signed up to take Trig during summer school.  The counselor told her that was a foolish thing to do since they both knew that she wasn’t going to be able to go to summer school.  “Watch me” was her reply.  And she was there for Trig each and every day.  She would go to school in the mornings and then go to work at her father’s store in the afternoons.  Still hiding the ever-growing fact that something was wrong.

When the young girl thinks of the counselor now, she is grateful for the concern shown to her.  She so wanted to open up to the counselor, but knew that if she did, there would be no stopping.  All kinds of hell would be brought out and the young girl knew she could not do that.  So, she did not tell.

Boy #1 was still denying any responsibility for anything.

The knight was still standing by her.

August came around and summer school was over so the young girl was working all day at her father’s store.  The knight was still asking her every day what “they” were going to do.  She reminded him again and again and again that there was no “they” and that whatever was going to be done had to be done by her.  She still had no clue as to what she was going to do – she just knew that SHE WASN’T TELLING.  Or so she thought.

There was talk at her house about going shopping for school clothes since school would be starting in a few weeks, but she kept putting that off.  One day, during the third week of August she was sitting at her desk in the store office and the knight’s mother walked in the door.  No problem.  Probably just wants to pay their bill.  But, she asked the young girl’s mother if she could “borrow” the young girl for a few minutes.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!  As they walked out of the store, the woman said that she and her husband would like to talk to her for a few minutes.  Panic!  Panic!  Panic!  As she got in the back seat of their car, her heart was beating about a million miles a minute and she was sweating like a boar hog in the south Georgia sun.  As she sat there, a million thoughts ran through her mind and she knew that she was fixing to catch hell.  But, she was wrong.  As the knight’s mother turned around to face her, she reached back and patted the young girl’s arm and said, “The knight told us last night that you are pregnant and that the baby is his and that y’all are getting married.”  You could have knocked the young girl over with a feather.  How in the hell could he have told his parents that?  He knows damn good and well that this is NOT his child.  How could he have done that without even talking to her about it?   What does he think he’s doing?  While all these thoughts were rushing through her mind, the woman said, “So, we have gone by to see the preacher and the wedding is set for next Friday.”  Wedding?  WHAT WEDDING?  Surely she’s not talking about the young girl!  The woman said a lot more things that the young girl missed because she was busy trying to figure out just what in the hell was going on and how she was going to handle this.  And then, the woman said, “I assume you have not told your parents.”  I reckon not.  They are the LAST people in the world that she had planned to tell.  “Don’t worry.  We are going to tell them.  We will handle everything.”  She walked the young girl back into the store and asked the girl’s mother to find the father and to go home.  She said that they would be there in 30 minutes to talk to them.  And then, the woman walked out.  The young girl’s mother sat there just staring at the young girl for a few minutes before getting up and walking out into the store.  The young girl’s father stopped at the office door and just stared at her before walking out of the store with his wife.

As soon as they left, the young girl got on the phone and found her knight and asked him just what in the hell he had thought he was doing.  Very calmly, he said, “I fixed things.  I’ll see you in a little while.”   I’ll speed things up a bit here.  The next few days were torture.  Of course, there was the expected yelling and screaming and yelling some more at home, but the young girl’s father was just as shocked as the young girl was.  The knight had stood up to the father and told him that he was going to accept it and that that was all there was to it.  The young girl spent those days with a tortured mind.  How could she do this?  How could she not?  Did she love the knight?  She truly believed she did.  Was it fair to the knight?  Of course not.  Was he backing down?  Not an inch.  So the days ticked by.  The father was now not speaking at all to the young girl and as much as she cherished the silence, that silence was just as torturous as the yelling.  The young girl and her parents had spent an evening out at the knight’s home talking about how things were going to be handled.  The one thing that the young girl got out of all this was that she was being left out of the loop.  Nobody, not even the knight, had asked her if this was what she wanted.  I assume they all thought that this was the only option.  It seemed as though it was.  But, the truth was weighing heavily on her heart.  She couldn’t do this to her knight.  It wasn’t his baby.  He knew it wasn’t.  And from a couple of the remarks made by his mother, the young girl was sure that she knew it, too.

Finally, two days before the upcoming wedding festivities, it had to end.  It wasn’t fair.  She couldn’t do it.  When they sat down to talk, it was evident that even her knight knew that it was not the solution.  He was still insistent, but believed the young girl when she said that she would tell her father the truth if made to go through with the wedding.  And even the knight knew what that would mean.  So, they went to the young girl’s father and said that plans were cancelled.  It was that simple.  And he walked out the door.  The girl just received cold stares from the father.  The mother was crying.  The young girl was crying.  The father was just staring.

The next morning, the girl got up, got dressed, and went to work.  The mother came in to work and the father was missing in action.  The mother claimed that she didn’t know where he was.  Around noon, he walked into the office and told the young girl to come with him.  They got in the car and drove home.  When they got there, he told the young girl to go in and pack a bag.  “For what,” she asked.  “Where am I going?”  He just repeated, “Go pack a bag and come back out here.”  So she did.  They got in the car and drove down the highway.  He spoke NOT ONE SINGLE WORD.  She barely shut up.  She continuously asked where they were going and he said NOTHING.  As they hit I-20, it became apparent that they were heading for Atlanta, but she could get nothing out of him.  Complete silence.  Finally, they got off the interstate and began driving somewhere where she had no clue as to where they were.  They reached a long, winding, paved driveway and turned in.  A ways down the driveway was a large curved iron sign over the drive that read “Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers.”  She now had her answer.  They drove up in front of a large building and he finally spoke.  “Get out.”  She wondered why he wasn’t turning off the engine as she got her bag from the back seat.  Then, she knew why.  As she shut the door, he drove off.  He just drove off.  Not a word.  Just drove off.  And left her standing there.  Suitcase in hand.  She had no idea where she was or what she was supposed to do.  Finally, she walked to the door and knocked.  A lady came to the door and said, “Welcome.  We’ve been expecting you.”  Through conversation, the young girl learned that while her father had been missing that morning, he had driven to Chamblee and made arrangements for her.  Then he drove home, got her, and drove back to let her out.  And then he just drove off again.   And that, my friends, is how the young girl’s father fixed that problem.

It was now the first week of September and the young girl should be home starting her senior year of high school.  Instead, she was at a home for unwed mothers.   She tried calling home every day for the first week and was never able to speak to either of her parents.  Finally, after about 10 days, her mother accepted the collect charges and spoke to her.  She could hear the pain in her mother’s voice and the young girl prayed that the mother was not receiving the wrath that the father was certainly feeling. The Home itself wasn’t bad.  The people were nice and kind.  They were not judgmental.  She went to school during the mornings, only having two classes that she needed to take in order to graduate.  She spent the afternoons reading, or crafting, or writing letters.  Once a week, they were taken to a nearby strip mall where they could pick up needed toiletries or whatever.  Her father had been kind enough to leave $25 on her account so that she could have a bit a spending money on these trips.  Since she was now eight months pregnant, she was taken into Atlanta once a week to see a doctor.  (She had only seen a doctor one time during the pregnancy and that was after her parents had been told.  Her mom had taken her out of town to see a doctor and wham, a neighbor’s daughter was the doctor’s nurse.  The young girl could not help but giggle over that one.)

Her regular doctor’s appointment was scheduled for October 3rd.  She was told that in two days, they would bring her back to the hospital and they would induce labor.  She was told that she would spend 5 days in the hospital and then be returned to the Home.  She would spend one week there and then would leave.  During this time, the young girl’s father was still not speaking to her, but she was told by her mother that they had made arrangements with some family friends who now lived in the Atlanta area for her to stay with them upon her release.  They would bring her car to Atlanta so that she would have a way to drive to the Home each day until December when she would complete her studies and would earn her high school diploma.   The next day was their scheduled trip to the store and she bought an Instamatic camera and hid it in her bag to take to the hospital.  The young girl was told to call home after the birth to let them know how things went.

Early on October 5th, she was driven to Crawford Long Hospital and labor was induced. She knew no one.  She had no idea what was going to happen, but she knew she was alone.  And she was scared.  Sometime later that afternoon, she awoke in her hospital bed and a nurse came in to tell her that she had given birth to a baby boy and that they would be bringing him in to see her shortly.  What a beautiful baby he was.  He had her dark skin and dark hair and he was precious.  For each of the five days that she was in the hospital, they brought her sweet son into her room for the majority of the day.  The young girl was allowed to feed him, change him, take secret pictures, and love him.  For five days, she had someone she could truly love.  Someone who did not judge her.  Someone who loved her.  Someone she could take care of.  And then the five days were up.  They brought him in that last morning and told her that he’d be leaving before noon for his new foster home.  A woman came in and said that she was from the adoption agency and that she’d be handling the adoption. She said that she had spoken with the young girl’s father and that they had set up a date for her to sign the adoption papers.  Up until this point, the young girl had done her best to not think about this part.  As they took him out of the room that last time, she broke down.  They had taken away the only thing in her life that meant anything to her.  And he was being given away.  And it was her fault.  It was all her fault. She received a letter from the case worker a couple of weeks later and was told that they had had to change formula for the baby, but that he was doing fine.  She said that an adoption was in the works.  The young girl never heard anything else. Seven days after giving birth, the young girl turned 17.  She stayed at the Home for a week and then went to the home of family friends to live.  She had very little contact with anyone at her home.

A few weeks later, her parents came to the home of the people she was living with and picked her up to go into downtown Atlanta to the adoption agency.  She was told by the case worker that it looked as though the adoption would go through the court system within the next couple of weeks.  Once again, the father said NOTHING to her.  It had been the first time the young girl had seen him since he had put her out at the Home and driven away.  There were so many things she wanted to say to him, but no words would come out.  Not once did he ask about his first grandchild.  Not once did he mention the fact that it was a boy – he had always wanted a boy.  Now he had one in the family and he was forcing her to give him away.  It was probably better that neither of them spoke to each other that day.  The papers were signed and the young girl was taken back to the home of the family friends. She had no idea that perhaps she should have had a choice in the matter.  But, it was too late now.  Upon arriving at the friends’ house, she got out.  The father drove off.

So many months ago, the young girl had decided to do whatever she could to hurt her father as he had hurt her.  She was determined to make him feel pain.  She wondered that afternoon, after signing those papers, if he was finally hurting.  She hoped that he was.  She prayed that he was.  But, he never mentioned it again to her.

But, for five days –five glorious days – she had had a beautiful son.  He was perfect.  She was truly in love with this precious baby.  She loved on him, cuddled him, sang to him, fed him, changed his diapers, and prayed that somehow he could feel the love she had for him.  For five days, she was content.  For five days, she had someone to love.  For five days, she was happy.

And then he was gone.

You might wonder how I know this young girl’s story so well.  Did she tell me of this time in her life?  Did she tell me her thoughts, her feelings, her hopes, her dreams?  Did she confess her guilt to me?  No, she didn’t.  You see, I know this story so well because I was that young girl.  This is my story.   This is what has haunted me for all these years and still haunts me to this day.  I have prayed each and every day for my sweet son and for the loving family who adopted him. God Bless them.

Allen 1

Allen Lee Mains
October 5, 1966
6 lb. 14 1/2 oz.
19 1/2 inches
12:32 pm

About eight years ago, I started the process of trying to find my son.  I have filled out the oodles of papers and registered with the state so that if he ever tries to find his birth mother, I will be on record.  I have never heard a word.  I don’t know what that means.  I have no idea how he is, where he is, or if he is even alive.  I don’t know if I will ever know any of these things, but I pray that I will someday know something.  I pray that he has had a good life.  I pray that he has been healthy and happy.  I pray that he has loved the family who adopted him.  I pray that he can somehow, someday understand why he was placed for adoption.  Maybe one day, I’ll get a call or a letter.  Until then, I have only those five days to remember.

At some point after I moved back to my hometown, I ran into Boy #1 and we spoke briefly.  He still would not admit that the child was his, but he did say that we had both been young and foolish.  I guess that is as close as I’ll ever get to an admission that the child was his.  And I’m OK with that.  I wondered for many years why I didn’t hate him. I mean, I feel like I should have.  Isn’t that how the story goes?  Young girl.  Boy takes advantage of her.  She gets pregnant.  He denies that the baby is his.  She gives the baby up for adoption and then she hates him for the rest of her life.  At least, that’s how it goes in all the movies, right?  But, for some reason, I didn’t feel that hatred.  I tried to.  I pretended that I did.  But, in reality, I don’t think that I ever really hated him.  And I could never figure out why I didn’t.  But, through many years of therapy, I have come to realize that I was as much at fault as he was in the whole situation.  He didn’t love me.  I didn’t love him.  I knew that. I was a young, foolish, stupid girl who fell for his sweet lines and he used me.  That was wrong. But, I also used him as a way to hurt my father.  I guess that made it all even.  And while Dad never admitted it, I believe that I was successful at hurting him.  If he had any heart at all, he had to have been hurt (and I choose to believe that somewhere buried deep inside all the hate and meanness, he had a heart.)   I did find out many years later that Dad was told who the father had been and he never mentioned it to me.

As for my knight in shining armor — he went his separate way and is now married and has a beautiful family.  I am happy for him.  He deserves nothing but the best that life has to offer.  He has a good heart and he tried his best to “save” me and I’ll forever be grateful for that.  His wife and his children are blessed to have him.  May God Bless him always and in all ways.

I often wonder how things could have been or would have been different if I had not believed all the lies that my father told me throughout my years at home.  I wonder what it was about him that made it possible for him to never love me.  I wonder if there was a reason for all his abuse.  I wonder a lot of things.  The majority of them, I will never have an answer for.

But………..

I do know one thing.  And if I never know anything else, I know that for five glorious days his name was Allen and I was his mother.   Those five days will never change.

~~~ Betty

 

 

 

Depression, Family, Mental Health

Preparing Myself

Next Friday night, June 2, 2017, Putnam County High School Class of 1967 will be holding its 50th Reunion.  From a class of 58, there were 6 classmates we could not find and 11 classmates who have passed away.  We are scheduled to have 73 people — classmates and spouses or significant others — in attendance.  And this “scares me to death”.

You see, while I attended school with these classmates beginning in grade 1 when we moved to Eatonton through grade 11 and have memories and experiences with them throughout each of the years, I was not there for my senior year, nor for graduation.  I had left Eatonton at the end of my junior year.  I remember the night that I should have graduated — I remember wishing  I was there with my classmates — and I remember wondering how many of them thought about the fact that I was not there.  And I continued to wonder that for four decades — did they even realize I had not been there?

I’ve spoken of my dear friend, Dennis, before.  I remember the day that we had met for lunch and sat at a table outside the restaurant, watching life go on in Eatonton, for hours. We reminisced about life in Eatonton when we were kids and then as teenagers.  We had talked about the people who had owned businesses and who had been married to whom, who had divorced, and who had fooled around on their spouses as well as we could remember.  I remember asking him that day if he had even missed me during 66-67.  Did he realize that I was not at school for our senior year?  Did he wonder where I was? And, bless his heart, true to Dennis, he was brutally honest with me and said, “No, Betty.  I was too busy living the life of a teenage boy to recognize that you were not there.”  (I cleaned that up a bit from the actual words that he said to me.)  In a way, I was devastated, but then, it was the answer I had expected.

Since moving back to Eatonton, I had spoken to many people who had never realized that I had not been there for my senior year.  And I had spent decades believing or hoping that, at least to my classmates, I had been missed.   I do remember that one classmate, Brenda, had told me when we had reconnected a few years ago, that at the beginning of our senior year, she had asked several people where I was and nobody could  or would give her an answer.  She said that she had even asked one of our teachers — several times — where Betty was.  She said that she was finally told by that teacher to stop asking and to let the fact that I was not there drop.  So, life without Betty in the class went on.  As it should have.  The fact that I was not there was of utmost importance to me, but was really no big deal to my classmates.  And I’m not saying that in a critical way — it was as life should have been.  Students finishing up high school are all about themselves and their futures.  If someone suddenly is not there, they just aren’t there.  It’s not going to change the way they live.  But it had certainly changed the way I lived.

Things had been beyond bad at home between Dad and me. They had reached a point where he no longer allowed me to live there and I was “taken” to Atlanta to live.  Upon checking my school records, it was determined that in order to graduate, I only needed a senior English class and a geography class, so I took those two classes and graduated on December 16, 1966 from an Atlanta high school.  It certainly was not the type of graduation that I had always dreamed of — they mailed me my diploma.  But, I did have a high school diploma and I was out of my house.  I was not being abused any longer.  And I did not have to fight with my dad every day.  That was a good thing.  But, it was not the life I was supposed to live.  It was not the life that I had deserved to live.  I was “allowed” to come to Eatonton for Christmas, but received the silent treatment from Dad the whole time I was there.  Shortly after the beginning of January, I began attending Massey Business College in Atlanta and actually enjoyed my life, living in a dorm right off 14th Street.  When leaving the dorm, all we saw were the long-haired hippies and I was fascinated by them.   I met and made new friends, but still missed my friends from Eatonton.  I asked if I could come home and attend my classmates’ graduation service, but was told no by dad and of course he had to add that “Nobody in Eatonton wants you here.  Stay in Atlanta.”  So, I did.  The following September, I moved to Valdosta, Georgia, and began attending Valdosta State College.  And here is where things went wrong again. (More to come on this aspect at a later date.)

A couple of years after moving back to Eatonton in 2010, I attended a class reunion and was petrified.  I had not seen the majority of these classmates since I left in 1966 and I had no idea as to how I would be welcomed, or, if I would be welcomed at all.  But, it was a good night and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone.  Five years ago, I attended another reunion and we had a blast.  And now, for our 50th!  What I haven’t figured out yet is how I pretty much came to be in charge of planning this, seeing as how I may have attended school with these folks for 11 years, but, in reality, I did not graduate with them. I am not a graduate of the Class of ’67, yet I was in charge of planning it.  Somehow, this just doesn’t make sense.  But, it’s done.  We are ready for all 73 people to invade Joe and Melody’s on Friday night.  All the planning that can be planned has been planned and I am not planning to plan anything else.  (I just thought that sentence kind of summed up how drained I am right now.  LOL)  We have the food arranged; we have the name tags made; we have the class booklets finished and printed; we have a photographer coming; we have the frames done for use when we take pictures; we have the Memorial table items ready; I HOPE we have the Memorabilia tablescape ready; and I hope we have the carpooling arranged.  All that is left to do is to show up and have fun.

And, that, my blogging friends, is why I am filled with anxiety.  Although at the two reunions I have attended, everyone has been wonderful.  But, at this reunion, it is going to be evident that I did not graduate.  We have name tags with everyone’s senior picture on them; each of the gals are in their senior drapes and the guys are in suits.  But, not me. It is evident when viewing my picture that I am NOT in a senior drape.  I worry that there will be questions and whispers and that they will remember that I am not actually a member of the Class of ’67.  All those old fears are coming back and the memories as to WHY I’m not in a senior drape are flooding my mind.   I’m trying to think that it doesn’t really matter, that being there for 11 years ought to be enough to count.  I’m going to take that leap of faith that everyone speaks about and just GO and have FUN and not WORRY. Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do.  Right, Betty.  You just keep on thinking that.  Anyway, by this time next week, it will be a done deal.  I will most likely find out that I have worried for no reason and that all my trepidation was unwarranted.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the rest of the week, just in case.

I’ll let you know how things went.

~~~~~

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  I have dreaded speaking about this period in my life.  There is so much more to the story, but so far, I am not brave enough to talk about the rest.  The goal when I started this blog was to be able to be open and honest and real about all of the things in my life that have haunted me for so many years.  Since this period of time is one of the “biggies”, it’s stressful.  My hopes are that at some point, I will be able to speak the truth.  Not that what I’ve written today is not the truth.  It is.  It’s just that it’s such a small portion.  So much is left out.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  I still need to figure out how to do this sleeping thing.  I’m trying to eliminate the need for sleeping pills, but without them, I just flat don’t sleep.  Period.  But, with them, I seem to sleep for 12 hours.  It’s either no sleep or 12 hours of sleep.  It is just so hard to plan things that take place in the mornings.  I missed church again this morning.  Darn it.

~~~ Betty

 

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

“The Breakfast Club” — Can You Relate?

A good friend, Donna, had shared this link on Facebook yesterday and I was just amazed when I clicked the link and read the following article.  Donna is getting pretty darn good at posting things that totally tug at my heart.  I had never realized how much I could relate to this movie.  It has always been a favorite for my daughter, Gina, and I know that I had watched it several times as she was growing up, but I don’t think that I ever paid attention to the many lessons in it.  I’m going to have to actually sit down and watch it now.

As I read this article, I could relate to each character. Here’s a few of my thoughts on each of the characters.

Andrew’s relationship with his father certainly tugged at me and I could relate to his “everything is fine” attitude.  Andrew definitely knew about masks.  “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” — Andrew

I totally understood the anger that Bender felt because he thought the world had done him wrong.  Bender was the “bad boy” and I certainly knew about the “bad boys” of high school.  And I absolutely related to the idea that one’s perception can make you hardened against those who might improve your life.  I certainly allowed my anger to harden me and kept me from becoming the best version of myself.  I still struggle with letting people into my life.  “Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.” — Bender

While I was far, far, far from the most popular girl in school as Claire was, I can remember the pressures I felt as I continuously tried to please my parents and authority figures.  Living in a VERY small town with a class of less than 60 in total, we all knew each other pretty well.  I had a small group of friends, but was always afraid that they would see the real me and discover all my secrets.  I don’t know that I went along with the crowd, but I do remember how precious their friendships meant to me so I’m pretty sure that anything they wanted to do, I was willing to join in.   I probably would have never bucked the system for fear of being found out.   “I hate it. I hate having to go along with everything my friends say.” — Claire

Wow!  Did I understand Brian, or what?  I’m right up there with the self-loathing and would never, ever have been brave enough to embrace who I really was.  As I have begun to open up with people now about my life, I have gotten many messages from my classmates who say that they never would have thought that I battled depression.  I’ve had many tell me that they were intimidated by me in high school (and I think that is absolutely hilarious – I was so far from being intimidating) and others who say that they thought I was a happy-go-lucky, great-life type of classmate.  Little did they know what a quivering bowl of jelly I was on the inside.  “Like, when I step outside myself kinda, and when I, when I look in at myself, you know? And I see me and I don’t like what I see, I really don’t.” — Brian

I really can’t remember Allison.  Based upon what is written about her character and her fear of growing up, I guess my memories of her are way off base.  In my memory of the movie, I thought she was a sad girl with a bad reputation who was lost and didn’t know what to do to please others.  If that was her character, I can relate to that.  In my father’s eyes, I was Allison.  I do agree with her in that I felt that no matter what I did, there was no way for me to win.  I will definitely have to re-watch the movie to find out about Allison.  I do know that I couldn’t wait to grow up and get the heck out of my home.   “When you grow up, your heart dies.” — Allison    “Well, if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?” — Allison

I am anxious to re-watch the movie to find out more about Vernon.  I just remember him being a tough detention monitor.  I thoroughly LOVED my teachers and wanted with all my heart to be close to them – I admired them so.  But, I always knew that I had to keep my distance and couldn’t let them really know me in fear that they would be able to tell that I was being abused at home.  I worked hard for most of them, especially once I reached high school, but I knew that I couldn’t let myself be close.  In my Latin class, I learned to love words and their meanings.  I thoroughly loved my English teacher because she allowed me to express myself through my writing and to hone my love of reading.  I can still remember reading Great Expectations and An Old Man and the Sea.  I also remember all the book reports we had to write.  (Oh, yeah, I also remember the book report I had written for my then boyfriend.  The silly thing just sat at his desk with it out and was copying it as Mrs. Marshall walked by his desk  Busted.  Darn!)   My Home Economics teacher was what I envisioned a mother to be.  She taught me to cook, how to sew, and how to crochet —  skills that gave me so many hours of pleasure later in life.  My business teacher was rough and tough and down-right scary, but taught me skills that I used later in my teaching career.  And my Guidance Counselor – oh, how I loved that lady.  She tried so many times to reach me and never gave up on me.  While I was never truthful with her about my life at home, (I would have NEVER spoken those words aloud) I believe she understood and did her best to let me know that there was hope out there.

I have always found it funny to think that I chose to become a teacher myself.  While I was a good student, I truly gave my teachers hell.  Some of the stunts I was involved in give me chills now to think of.  I should have been ashamed of myself.  Perhaps those stunts were a way in which I could distance myself from them – if I was a good girl, they might like me and I knew that that was not acceptable.  I was not supposed to be liked by any adult.  All of our teachers cared about us and did their best to teach us the important things in life – respect for others, respect for ourselves, how to use our brains, how to get along in the world, and the importance of learning.  God Bless them all.  I wish I could re-do my high school years so that I could take advantage of all they offered.  I wasted so much educational time.

In relating to Vernon’s quote, I am reminded of my fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Thompson.  Oh, how I loved her.  That is, until the day she wrote the following on my report card.  “Betty is such a capable student, but she seems as though she’s afraid to excel.  Is it because she thinks that smart students cannot be liked by others?”  Boy, did I catch hell about that at home!  I remember how hard I worked for her for the rest of the year; I so wanted to please her.  (In reality, maybe I just didn’t want her to write anything else on my report card that would get me in trouble.)  However, for the rest of my school days, that quote would be thrown back in my face by my dad.  I ran into her many, many years later and told her about how her comment had affected me.  She apologized and said that she was young and foolish when she wrote that.  She also told me that she was not really a teacher – her husband had been on the Board of Education and they had a teacher to quit at the last minute and he had put her in the position.  She said she had had no idea what she was doing that first year.  Oh, well, we all learn, don’t we?  And little did she know how spot on she had been with her comment!  “You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.” — Vernon

Read through the following article about “Breakfast Club” and see if you can relate to any of the characters.  I bet you can.

‘Breakfast Club’ Quotes For When You Just Need To Be Yourself

ALYSSA FIKSE 10.19.16

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“Just be yourself” is a fairly common message in the teen film genre, but few have navigated the universal feelings as well as The Breakfast Club. While the question over which John Hughes film is the best is frequently pondered, the tale of the brain, the athlete, the criminal, the princess, and the basket case is almost always at the top of the list. While many teen classics feel less than genuine once you cross the threshold into your twenties, there is a timelessness to The Breakfast Club‘s transparency that manages to help it avoid feeling hopelessly dated.  Whether you’re starting to get bogged down by the facade that comes with adult life or still figuring out how to navigate the world as a teenager, The Breakfast Club is great at reminding you that being yourself is your only real option. The exhaustion of hiding your true self will overwhelm you otherwise. Some of us manage the charade better than others, but deep down, we all just want people to see us for who we really are.

“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” — Andrew

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The central theme of The Breakfast Club is that everyone has their own problems, whether you can see them or not. Andrew (Emilio Esteves) may seem like just a dumb jock at the beginning, but just like the rest of the kids, his own relationship with his father plagues him. He may be weak-willed, but he keeps up the “everything’s fine” face better than most. While you don’t need to be share every bit of your life with anyone who will listen, having a few people who see the real you is a pretty critical part of being your true self.

“Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.” — Bender

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For most of the film, Bender (Judd Nelson) was the worst version of himself. While he certainly has his reasons, that kind of anger does tend to keep people at arm’s length. The world has done him wrong, so he has a better idea of the harsh reality outside of the cocoon that is high school. However, when you have that information, you can either let it make you hardened against those who might improve your life, or you can see it as an opportunity to embrace those who might encourage you to be the best version of yourself. Be like Bender and learn to let people in (eventually).

“I hate it. I hate having to go along with everything my friends say.” — Claire

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As the most popular girl in school, Claire (Molly Ringwald) constantly felt crushed by the responsibilities that came with pleasing her parents, friends, and other authority figures at the expense of what she really wants. Going along with the crowd because you think that’s just how things are supposed to be will always just end in frustration, so throw off your self-made shackles and cut out those people you actually hate.

“Like, when I step outside myself kinda, and when I, when I look in at myself, you know? And I see me and I don’t like what I see, I really don’t.” — Brian

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Everyone in detention is forced to do some serious soul searching, but Brian, who was assumed to be a happy go lucky dork, actually harbors a good deal of self-loathing. It’s important to realize that everyone has trouble looking in the mirror sometimes. It’s often not easy to embrace who you really are, so be an encouragement to those who are just coming out of their shell.

“When you grow up, your heart dies.” — Allison

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The fear of getting older permeates the teen genre, and nothing captures that better than Allison’s (Ally Sheedy) solemn statement about the perceived nature of aging. Honestly, the pressure to “stay in your lane” permeates adulthood just as much or more than in high school, so by being yourself, you can keep some of that soul death at bay. You don’t have to fit into the boxes that snuff out your spark.

“You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.” — Vernon

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Vice Principal Vernon (Paul Gleason) may have been the bully of the film, but this is actually some solid advice. Instead of wasting all of your time trying to cram yourself into a pre-appointed box, just work on making yourself a better version of you. Work hard and be kind. Sometimes that’s the best you can do.

“Well, if you say you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you say you have you’re a slut. It’s a trap. You want to but you can’t, and when you do you wish you didn’t, right?” — Allison

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As Allison points out, sometimes there is no winning way to be yourself. You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. If nothing you do is going to make the people want to impress give you validation, you’ve got to find that validation in yourself. There’s no use being someone you’re not when it still won’t get you what you want. You might as well be yourself, and the people who actually matter will be into it.

“You see us as you want to see us—in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question?”

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While they all tried to avoid detention like the plague, the crew from The Breakfast Club actually learned a bit (ain’t that the movie way?), but it wasn’t from their textbooks. Everyone is multifaceted, so don’t be afraid to show every part of yourself to those who deserve it. Kiss the girl in the parking lot and them pump your fist to the sky.

Link to Article.