Growing up, never giving in, rising above

Something happened yesterday that has made me think. And get angry. And sad. And ultimately, thankful.

I was told by someone I used to know a long long time ago that I’m not the same girl I used to be in high school. In the context it was given, it was meant as an insult. And I was insulted, so point taken. Congratulations. But it also made me think about how she is absolutely right and I am thankful I’m not.

In high school, as I have mentioned before in this blog, I was a complete rebel. In a Catholic high school, it doesn’t take much to be a rebel, so I guess comparatively speaking, I don’t know how much of a rebel I truly was.  However, I did some pretty wild and crazy and utterly stupid things. I rejected everything “establishment”, I couldn’t wait to go my own way, do my own thing, live how I wanted to live, be who I wanted to be. If that meant living out of my car for a few weeks or staying on a friends couch, so be it! I could go with the wind baby!!!

After graduation, I went to OSU and quickly realized that I was less than nothing there. I was a blip on the screen. No one knew if I was in class or not. No one was looking for me at the library. Friends from high school lived on campus. I lived at home. I felt like I didn’t fit there, and in retrospect, I didn’t try to fit there. I should have. I could have. But I didn’t.

And so different options came up. After living wild and seriously crazy for a few years, I wound up married. And I’m going to be brutally honest because, well, it’s MY blog, I did it because I was tired of living the life I was and I thought, well, guess this is better than not doing it. That is no reason to get married. Ever. As much as I hate him now, I can honestly say I don’t think I ever loved him. He was a means to an end. He was a way out.

He was also one of the biggest assholes known to man. With the exception of Rob being born, he was the biggest mistake of my life. No woman, friend or foe, should have to endure what I did. Controlling. Beatings. Degrading. Menacing. Did I say controlling? Yep. Have I mentioned before how he threw me down an entire flight of stairs while I was pregnant? How when I tried to leave after that, he literally ripped wires from my car so I couldn’t go anywhere? How I ran, barefoot in the snow, pregnant, to a friends house to stay until he calmed down? Have I relayed how I showed up at my parents house with a black eye, cut swollen lip, bruises everywhere and begged them to not make me go back there? The divorce papers were filed the next day. Rob was 3. He didn’t need to see that growing up. He couldn’t be the next punching bag. 

THAT changes a person. That changes you to the core of who you are. That fundamentally alters your psyche, your outlook, your perception of what is going on around you. To this very day, I can not stand the smell of cigar smoke. That bastard used to hold me down, and straddle me and blow that smoke in my face til I gagged and cried. Then he laugh, or slap, or spit at me and let me up. So, don’t mind me when I go to another room or leave when the cigar’s start coming out. It’s not you, it’s me. 

I could continue on and on, but I won’t. Let’s just stop the examples of transformation in my mid 20’s. Am I the same person as I was in high school? No way. In less than than 10 years from graduation, I had permanently changed. But I think part of that is also maturity. We mature as we grow older, no matter how good or bad those years are. We learn, we adapt, we start seeing outside of our own little world and realize the enormity of everything around us. We try to find like-minded AND opposing viewpoint friends to help us continue to grow and see things differently. And we don’t have to agree, but we can certainly learn a thing or two about civility. We can disagree without name calling or personal attacks. Isn’t that the way to grow in a positive direction?

I think of who I was in high school, and that girl is still here. But she’s wiser. And older. And has seen things, done things, lived through things I hope you never know. So even though I’m still jamming out to some killer 80’s music (and oh, I do. I do.) and I wish I had the body I used to have, I’m jamming out knowing some of the lyrics mean something completely different now than they did back then. But I’m still smiling.

 

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