Waiting for today...: Trying Times

Wednesday, June 17

Trying Times

con’t from: Much of the Same

Although uprooted again, there was a silver lining in our moving before high school: I didn’t have to attend school with the bullies from our Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood. But, I wouldn’t share any more classrooms with all the friends I made in 8th grade either. Which was a bummer, being as those friends helped to make the school year tolerable. Even fun at times! Thanks to the school district system I not only ended up away from my friends, I also landed in one of the tougher high schools in the city.
The first person I gravitated toward helped to squash the notion that my new school would be similar to, if not exactly the same, as Eastside High in the movie “Lean on Me”.  Based on experiences in elementary and middle school, I wanted to be careful who I attached myself to. But she was mellow. When I spoke to her, she spoke back and continued to carry on conversation. I didn’t sense rejection. She appeared to be a loner, like me. But in tagging along I was quickly introduced to her friends.
Many girls came and went from our group over the years. Those of us that made it to senior year together are still on good terms today. But from freshman year to senior, I was faced with a familiar dilemma: frenemies.
Cracking jokes is common among peers of all ages. Sadly, many of those jokes have hidden darts. Others border on verbal abuse. Often they are employed to ridicule, embarrass or humiliate.  God forbid these jokesters and jesters find themselves with an audience.  The railing then continues... unmercifully.  For those that do not stand up for themselves, the railing is perpetual and worsens over time to include physical violence.  
Although I came close to a few brushes, once for accidentally stepping on someone’s foot, no one laid hands on me in high school.  While I was thankful to have been spared that embarrassment, the mocking and taunting cut deeply into my self-esteem.  It was at this time that I took to writing in a different capacity.
I have no recollection of keeping a journal before high school. In middle school we were made to keep a “journal”, of sorts, by our English teacher. But my writing was pure fantasy; about a life I only dreamed about and usually in competition with my bestest to see who could write the most titillating stories.  And because our teacher asked us permission to read those entries, I held nothing back. Although fun, it wasn’t helpful.  It turned out to be just another distraction.
High school was the first time I began pouring my real life out on paper. With the exception of my mom reading it when I haphazardly left it lying around, no one in any position to get me help would know what I was really feeling. I often wonder what happened to that journal.  It would sure be nice to browse through its pages. Was it helpful? Journaling? I would like to think it helped to deter another suicide scheme. However, it wasn’t helpful enough to keep me from failing the 10th grade.
As I entered the ninth grade, I had my best academic start since coming back to the states. The crowd I fell in with though was a one of leisure.  By senior year, two of us were drop outs and three of us got left back.  Needless to say, my pursuit of academic excellence took a back seat at some point during that first year.  Another known threat to my academic success was that of bullying, which reached its climax in tenth grade.    As a result, I would continue to cope the best way I knew how.  And the appearance of rebellion took on a more mature form.

Being a bit older, with more freedoms and more knowledge about the vices of the world, I found myself dabbling in things that many would consider mere curiosities for my then age.  I added smoking cigarettes and “weed”, drinking alcoholic beverages and hard liquor, and even lechery to my coping formula.  A formula that did nothing but help cast a shadow over the stress of being at home and in school.  Rebellion, maladaptive coping, peer pressure, which ever, the bottom line: it was agony to have to share almost every single class with my bullies. What's worse is I had to share those same classes my friends which added to the embarrassment.  

next: Crash