Okay, inspired by Randi's blog (if I knew how, I would link it here, but I can't figure out how to do that!), today is all about high school. It's kind of deep, so brace yourself!
Anyone who knows me only as a mom will be amazed to know that I used to be extremely shy. Painfully shy. Not on stage, where I could sing anything or become any character. But if I had to be myself, I couldn't quite figure out how not to be self-concious. I was painfully aware of every movement, every word, every stupid thing I did. And I was most aware of how I looked.
In Junior High I remember very clearly being teased about my looks. One boy in particular (Joe Leone I think was his name) used to call me "Big Eyes." I very clearly remember coming to the realization that I cannot control my looks or the size of my eyes, but I can control how much I weigh. And so began my five year battle with anorexia. No, I was never hospitalized, and my parents never really even noticed too much (my brother took a lot of their attention in those days), but it soon took up much of my thoughts and much of my time. Seventh grade was tough for me - new school, new people, all very very hard. Controlling my food intake helped me feel better, like I could control something even when everything around me felt like it was spinning out of control. By eighth grade I felt more confident - I was a soloist in the choir, the lead in the school play, even had my own advice column in the newspaper, the Hollow Log. But I limited what I ate to such an extent in an effort to keep my weight around 100. My breakfast was an apple, my lunch a piece of cheese and some brocolli, dinner would be as little as I could get away with.
By the time high school rolled around, things spun out of control again - new school, new people, just like Junior High but now times four. Finding my way was so hard - I think I tried to shrink down, become invisible by losing even more weight. I did become a soloist in the choir and got the lead in the school play, but felt so out of my league any time I stepped off stage. By sophmore year I developed mono (my immune system so compromised by my diet) and lost even more weight. I was out of school for almost half the year, and was devastated that none of my "friends" had called or come to see me. When I came back to school my junior year I actually started dating and while my main high school boyfriend ended up being a pathalogical liar (could I pick them then?!!) he did help me deal with emotions I never could express, thus dealing with the eating disorder that had been my main coping mechanism growing up. No longer could I count my ribs each time I got out of the shower to feel right with myself, or make sure that my stomach was still concave if I laid down before I could feel okay to go out. I didn't use food the same way again.
That's not to say I became socially confident. That didn't happen until I got pregnant with my boys, a long time later. I gave the appearance of someone who was friendly and fearless, but mostly that was a mask covering the discomfort I felt around other people. I never knew what to say, always wanted to look like I knew what was going on.
High school was tough. College too. Looking back, I think they were way harder in my mind than they needed to be. But I know that I couldn't handle the casual friendships, the weekend parties at that time in my life. So I didn't. I never made those lifelong friends like most people made at that point in their lives. I have two - a friend from first grade (my gentile sister) and my husband. And as much as I wish it could have been different, my shyness and social anxiety made it virtually impossible for things to have been any other way.
I am so grateful for the fact that I don't feel that way anymore. It makes me want to somehow go back to that high school me and shake her, just tell her to get over herself, that no one cared how "fat" you were, that people were mainly interested in their own world so step out of your self-centered one for a little bit and become more aware of everyone else's . But that can't be. So I guess I'll just continue focusing on the here and now and be grateful those years are behind me.