Whose Getting Old? Me, That’s Who


Tomorrow evening I am attending the 40th anniversary of my high school graduating class. This will be the first time I have been in the presence of most of the people I went to school with for that length of time.

I  Never Belonged–Anywhere

I wish I could say I was super excited or thrilled to be going, but that would be a lie. Even though our class was well over 430 strong, we made a mutual decision not to visit or talk to each other after graduation.

I was treated pretty badly in school. They teased me mercilessly and made me feel like an outcast. You see, I never fit in anywhere. I was too wounded, too fragile, and way to fragmented.

And, since this part was being planned several months ago, I have already felt like an outsider again. You see, several of the women from our class are getting together for breakfast tomorrow but it is in a house that is not handicapped accessible.

When they realized I was in a wheelchair, they made no effort to move it elsewhere. Obviously, I am not important or wealthy enough to matter. At least, that is what my past is telling me.

So, why on earth am I going?

I’m going to put to rest some long-standing prejudices and hatreds that have been burning in my heart for far too long now. I never wanted to see any of them again and I was going to ignore the invitation but decided not to.

The horror that was my childhood is not their fault. They shouldn’t have been allowed to treat me so badly, but neither should my parents have ignored my pain that was being caused by the trauma I dealt with all my youth.

The Kids Didn’t Know

The kids who hurt me were probably hurting too. That’s not an excuse, that’s an explanation.

They had no way of knowing what was happening to my mind and body at home and other relatives homes.

They didn’t know that rape and torture were a normal part of my existence.

They didn’t know that I acted so strangely because my mind had been splintered into hundreds of pieces.

Their Beauty Was Never Really There

Not only that, but their beauty is gone, although I don’t believe it was ever really there.

Now they are not hunks or pretty little girls anywhere, they are old women and men like me. Their hair is gray, they have been married and divorced, and have had to struggle.

They are not perfect and they never were.

Look, I could allow myself to keep the pain I felt going to school but why? What possible good can it do to hate over 430 people for something they could not stop? I hated my life back then and they were part of that world.

Bottom line, they were just kids like I was and it was the adults in my life who were making me miserable.

It is Adults That are Cruel

The adults in the high school I attended hurt me. I had a school guidance counselor tell me straight to my face that I was never going to be anything and should stop trying. He offered me my walking papers so I could leave school without graduating.

In the end, it was the adults in my life who were so harmful, and the kids were just bystanders who sometimes got involved in the torture.

Do I hate them? No.

Do I trust them? Never.

Will I go tomorrow night and stare down my demons? Yes.

I can’t face a happy and fulfilled future while I’m harboring hatred and fear from my past. It just won’t work.

Wish me well.

The poem below by Rudyard Kipling is moving and I believe perfect for this blog post. I realize in the end he talks about a “son”, but that does not at all take away the power of what the meaning of the poem is all about. Dignity despite adversity. Shirley


Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Accept the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!