Sunday, September 15, 2013

Growing up

It’s a miracle that someone can physically be here. There are so many things that can happen at birth; even before birth the chances of things going wrong are innumerable. Even before our parents were born, before our grandparents were born, there was even less of a chance of survival. Yet we are here, breathing, alive.

Sometimes, even more of a miracle is how we survive mentally. I guess some people are more delicate than others and have more innocence but the world can break you mentally just as much as it can physically. Especially now, with information traveling so fast we get all kinds of tragedy forced upon us daily. When I was really little my world was built neatly around me, I was lucky to have such strong love surrounding me like walls. My preschool years went well, learning to draw rainbows and boys kissing my cheeks innocently. It was entering grade school that rocked my world.

Kindergarten and first grade I had strict teachers that really disciplined me and reined in my free spirit. It wasn’t as laid back as preschool, and I was getting older. I think that subconsciously I could tell that I wasn’t allowed to be a little kid as much as I was before. Even though I kept using sippy cups and still pretended to be a baby sometimes, I also had a uniform and had to sit still in class and do Phonics. In first grade I had my first experience with anxiety, which sent me into a whirlwind of sickness and crying fits every night. I said I was done with school.

From this I moved on to being scared of illnesses, the ones I heard about in the news and the stories my friends would tell me about kids dying. Even to the point where I was scared of my shoes because of the potential germs on them. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because I thought I was going to die. September 11th struck in third grade and evil like this was just unbelievable to me. I started washing my hands a lot until they bled. I was scared of wetting the bed at sleepovers and had anxiety, which sometimes sent me crying to call my parents.

I was in my prime in the middle grades, playing elaborate games of pretend, traveling to islands, being lions or strange children with sharp teeth, getting involved in silly drama which sometimes involved instant messaging or ditching people on the playground. I wasn’t that scared then. I played soccer, volleyball, acted in the play, was in band and had plenty of friends. The tragedy is my cat running away, my friend moving away, my friend switching schools. I try to resist getting older. I wear ripped jean shorts and red converse climbing the back hill and running on the railroad tracks but soon my playmates buy bras and they want to look like the girls on TV. So I follow because I know the social scene well, you need to fit in or else you get left behind, you stand in corners at recess with your hair over your eyes or you get made fun of. We need to have certain clothes and bags and we need to get good grades, we need to behave, follow the rules, tuck in our shirts and grow up. Learn about growing up. Get into a high school. Get good grades so we can get into a college. Pick a major that will get you a job when you are out of college so that you can buy a house and pay for mortgage and have kids and make them tuck in their shirts too.

That’s when I fell apart again, sophomore year of High School. There were too many things I was dying of, and I couldn’t breathe. My friends were confused. I was confused. I clung to my dad even though I was too old to be scared of the dark. Even though I was too old to wake up and walk into his office scared and curl up on his lap. It wasn’t the monsters anymore. It was my own mind sending me swirling and twirling so I couldn’t sleep. And I took a bath instead of going to the movies and I left school because I had a panic attack in math class. There was a lady that told me I had OCD and my brain was sending messages to my mind and she drew out a picture of my head but I didn’t know how to fix myself and she didn’t seem sincere. I didn’t like that place, it felt cold and it was embarrassing. I told myself to stop being afraid of dying but then one night I didn’t sleep and insomnia followed me around like a stray cat begging to be noticed at times and leaving me so unbearably frustrated and tired. So tired. It was torture listening to people breathe those sleep sounds while I was completely and utterly awake. The worst feeling is the next morning when you are completely drained and don’t feel like going on with life feeling like a zombie.

This followed me around along with some anxiety, which caused me to hide. It was better to hide than be seen as weak. There were too many things to worry about in High School. I don’t know how I did it. I would go to school and then soccer practice all on zero sleep. It was torturous sometimes. Friends and boys and grades and that awkward parent-child relationship filled with guilt and embarrassment. And then there was the world around my bubble that sometimes came crashing in like when I learned about sex slavery and I broke down in my shower. I sobbed for them because they couldn’t feel safe in the shower, they didn’t have any respite. I was helpless.

All this information was flooding my mind all the time. TV shows, and magazines, from my friends and on Facebook. Death, disease, murder, torture, and I felt a little bit of that pain every time I heard about it. I stored the pain away in the back of my mind but I didn’t know what to do with it.

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