Writing Challenge Day 5 -When your past meets your present

Writing Challenge Day 5 -When your past meets your present

About an hour ago I left a presentation on “How to pay less for college”.  In summary, I’m worth more alive than dead.  Actually I have been hyper aware of this for some time.  I also learned I’m a day late and a dollar short, with zero ducks in a row, for this college preparation thing.  Though I noticed from many sighs and rubbing of temples that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in this matter.

The triggers come quickly when I walk into a high school.  The lockers, the hallways, the pictures on the wall of which I was never a part of.  I find tears start welling up in my eyes and I have to work hard at composing myself.  This usually manifests in me looking like an angry bitch, which actually isn’t all that far from the truth.


I hate being at the high school even though it wasn’t one I attended.  I went to a different high school every year.  Parents divorced my sophomore year and we moved each year after.  When other kids were going to dances, learning to drive and keeping up their grades in hopes of getting into a great college, I was severely depressed, smoking pot, binge eating and planning my suicide.

Going to three different high schools I became lost in the system.  Not bad enough or good enough to hit anyone’s radar.  My father had abandoned me and my mother was lost in her own drama so there was no one to consider my future.  I remember them talking about taking the SAT in my junior year and saying how much it cost. It was a small amount but we were dirt poor so I didn’t believe I could do it.  I was also deeply involved in finding a way to die so I didn’t consider a future.

The gentleman doing the presentation was a financial planner and has been giving these presentations for over twelve years.  He spoke about grants, scholarships and loans and I had to struggle to stay present as my mind brought me back to being a teenager.  Could I have gotten a grant since we were so poor?  Could I have gone to college?

Please don’t ask me what I dreamed of doing or tell me it’s not too late because Grandma Moses didn’t paint her first painting until she was 78.  Don’t tell me this.  The harsh reality is that I stopped dreaming at 15 years old. I’d wanted to be a ballerina and was practicing in the living room one day.  My mother said, “What are you doing?” and I replied, “Practicing.”  She let out a laugh and said, “Why?!?”  I could see the look in her eye and knew better than to share but did it anyway “Because I want to be a dancer.”  She laughed louder this time while looking me up and down, “You will never be a dancer!  You’re too short!”  Now I’d love for this story to end with me proving her wrong and going on to be a prima ballerina.  But no.  Instead I quit ballet and stopped dreaming.

Life became about survival and still is to this day.  “So when you are planning your child’s education…” {Why didn’t anyone plan anything for me?  Why didn’t I matter?} “When filling out the FAFSA….” {Was this even around when I was young?  I don’t know.  I’m confused.  I’m overwhelmed.} “So depending on what percent…” {What could I have done with my life?  Was there any hope anyway?}

I left the school as fast as I could after the presentation was done.  I tried to focus on my car and not see the auditorium or the football field.  Each place is reminder of what didn’t happen for me.

It’s been decades since I was in high school but the pain is still fresh.  I’ve found that things I thought I was over resurface when my child hits the age I was at when some trauma happened.  I wonder if I’ll ever get to the other side or if I’m doomed to a life of flashbacks and triggers.

I send my son pictures of me at my desk with the caption “Don’t let this be you.  Work hard.  Go for your dreams.”  He wants to be a screenwriter and eventually a director.  “How is he going to survive and pay his bills?” You know what; I don’t know.  But I sure as fuck will support him.