Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


a kind of distancing

It was the way an old friend from high school described me recently. Something he never could pin down about me when we were friends back then. There was "a kind of distancing" in my personality he noted. An aspect that was always a little "off".

I've always felt kind of off from center, never entirely a part of any group, including my family. Moving as often as we did complicated matters further. I rarely had time to get used to a group, begin to make close friendships and I'd be changing schools again. I cannot recall clearly how many schools I went to before graduating high school. I can say that in the time I first started high school at age 14, until the time I graduated at age 17, I went to 4 different schools.

My disconnect with my family stemmed in part from the way my Mom was treated herself in the role of the "younger daughter/black sheep". Her mother and older sister always treated my Mom as though they expected and believed the worst of her in any given scenario. In addition to all the general negativity I got from being my mother's daughter and the youngest, I was generally considered to be freakishly smart by all of them.

NT was one of my closest high school friends. We shared our writing together. I'd thought of him this spring when I found an old writing project from those years. Finding the project set off a lot of sad, troubled memories, but it had caused me to think about him.

I've been turning over in my mind how someone close to me, really as close as I let anyone be to me, saw in my teens that I was distancing myself from people, from life. That they could see this coping mechanism I'd built. It shows how at that young age I'd already had some pretty well developed survival skills in play.

I was asked today if I find that validating. I suppose in a way I do. The problem I have with things that are validating like this is that they are also pretty creepy and disturbing. OK, so it is good to have this outside observer who could tell something wasn't alright despite my playing my part as "average teenager" as well as I possibly could. Then again it is just one more reminder, one more stone taken out of my wall of denial, that it was awful.

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