Monday, September 8, 2008

Unmentionables and skeletons

Let's see if you can follow this trail:

I spent three years just after college teaching at a private school in NY. I ended up there for a few reasons--I needed a job, my boyfriend had attended the school before so I had a connection, and I couldn't imagine being prepared for any career other than teaching Spanish. I got the job, so voila. This was very much a reactive situation rather than proactive.

SO. Enter Facebook, again. The same boyfriend from that era had a close group of friends up there, and I plugged into the posse somewhat. I spent time with one woman in particular, really. She's not on Facebook, but another of the group is. He and I met maybe 3-5 times back then, and have talked more on Facebook than we ever did in real life.

He contacted me this weekend and asked if I'd been in a community theater show in 1995.

No. Not that I remember, anyway.

He wrote back and said, well, there are some pictures up here that I'd swear are you. They look like you and are even captioned with your name. He tagged me in one of them so I could have a look-see myself.

Sure enough, it was me. Three pictures, in fact. I tagged myself in the rest of them and messaged the poster, who'd been the director, I think. Haven't heard back yet, but I really wonder how he knew it was me. Shit, I didn't even remember until I saw the pictures. I'm looking forward to his response.

My time up in NY was one of the lower points in my life. I had few friends and less money. I lived on campus at this swank and very traditional boarding school, and was muddling through a long-distance relationship that really had ended some time before. Or should have, anyway. Teaching took a great toll on me--so much grading. So little time. Absolutely no training. Barely three years difference between me and my oldest students.

I'd be in the cafeteria at 5 a.m. and asleep by 8 or 9. I lived with two roommates and three cats. That's when my allergies really developed.

Signs of depression I wish I'd noticed:

Driving myself to the ER in the middle of the night because I didn't want to bother my roommates.
Extreme exhaustion.
Considering therapy for the first time ever, but rejecting it because of stigma.
Hanging desperately on to an unhealthy relationship.
Retail therapy.
So many painful and negative opinions about myself and my abilities.
Personalizing situations that weren't personal.

Looking back, I don't know how I did it. I was a real mess, and this wasn't the first time. I'd seen the same behaviors and thoughts through most of my life, but they'd come and go in stages.

Over many years, with experience and much therapy, I've conquered or at least improved the ways I handle my life's challenges. I stand up for myself, I believe I am a good person, I can identify my own unhealthy reactions. I ask for help when I need it. I recognize that I've had some pretty rough times and survived them.

However, old habits die hard. I'm still isolated. I still feel unworthy. I feel like I've failed myself in many ways. I don't feel any of these ways all the time. But in my heart, deep down, I'm still not mended.

I cry for the young woman below who looks so happy but was so sad. I wonder if she'll ever really recover.

p.s. What's that SACK of a dress, anyway??