High school can be a difficult time for anyone struggling with issues of self-esteem, and I'm sure it's no surprise to you that I fit into that category. I don't want to leave you with the impression that every minute was filled with angst because I experienced many fun-filled hours with my old and new friends, but during those four years I did feel the need to trade up to a larger more efficient Pandora's Box. What had competently stored all my genuine feelings and thoughts throughout elementary and middle school was incapable of dealing with the sudden onslaught of all the overpowering feelings brought on by my high school experiences.
Before the beginning of freshman year, I also tried developing a thicker skin in terms of my overly emotional reactions to comments and/or situations involving social aspects of my life. It meant that I had to construct a thicker protective wall surrounding myself and my feelings, which in turn provided me with a set of emotions that could not as easily be penetrated. Once this was accomplished, I was ready to head into the next part of my journey.
Our family life during this time was also full of new discoveries as my dad fell deeper and deeper into the grip of alcoholism. That disease overtook Dad's life with a power that was hard to understand and accept. He was helpless in his attempts to control its hold. It was more than painful to watch the dad that we so loved turn into a man we barely recognized. As a family we tried to hide the devastation from our neighbors because initially that was all we knew to do. There were countless episodes with Dad's drinking that caused me sadness, shame and embarrassment, but now I realize those feelings stemmed from lack of education and understanding on my part.
Eventually our family was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous. Before this, I felt like Dad was choosing to drink because he was too weak to avoid it, but with the help of AA, our family began to learn that it was not a weakness, but a disease causing Dad the loss of his ability to gain control over the alcohol. There were many painful years, during which Mom needed extra help with all that goes into keeping a family together during times of stress. It offered me an opportunity to begin paying her back, showing the deep appreciation and love I felt for the major support she had provided me in my time of crisis. Our entire family unit grew closer and our bond grew stronger during these years, and we each moved forward in life with a deeper appreciation of what is involved in being a true member of a family. I am delighted to let you know that with the help of AA, along with the loving support of his family, friends and above all his Higher Power, Dad became a recovering alcoholic, returning to the man we loved and admired.
Every five or ten years I am reminded about my high school class reunion. I admit there is a small part of me that envies those who actually look forward to these events. Then I wonder how can they find enjoyment seeing so many people they may vaguely remember, having little in common except the fact that they all spent the same four years attending classes at the same high school together? My high school reunions are almost the last place I would choose to spend an entire weekend of my life. I already keep in touch with the friends I had authentically connected with all those years ago, and I cringe at the mere idea of mingling with all the rest of my classmates in a superficial level of conversation. To me it would be a reminder of a time in my life that was filled with growing pains and secrets that were better kept under wrap, or better yet in my Pandora's Box. I may be in the minority, but high school is definitely not in my top ten list of the best times of my life, and I would rather spend the weekend celebrating my life as it is today.