Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Learning The Hard Way

This post wont come as any breaking news to those who know me up close.  And for those who don't, well just wipe the drool off your mouth because I'm not about to disclose anything scandalous either.  However, I broach today's topic with a little trepidation.  Regret. Talking about regret means I have to admit stuff. Although my past is not weaved with the seduction of Reality-TV fodder (well, maybe a little), neither is it a chaste and innocuous tale I'll be sharing with my kids anytime never. Whether the details of it are unsavory or mundane, some of it just plain embarrasses me. Indeed, there is a price I've paid for every choice, good and bad, and lord knows there's not enough room on my blog to illuminate all of the glorious details but I'll give you a peek inside my past--of what not to do-- because I have a point here, I'm sure.


I spent my entire educational career obsessed with something totally unrelated to academia. Pulling a 'C' average was just a means to maintain my social life, 'cause Monday through Friday it was my personal mission to snag me a boyfriend! This private manifesto began in kindergarten with a boy named Chris (who would never let me lay my nap-mat next to him), and was galvanized by Joey in 2nd grade (who I always chased and kicked in the nuts because I thought it was "flirting"), and eventually scrawled over 300 tear-stained pages of my high school diary. Unfortunately (or fortunately) boys didn't like me until I was about fifteen years old. I was a lanky, underdeveloped, freckle faced, red-head with braces.  I knew the odds were stacked against me, so I had to compensate. 

In middle school I probably wasted the bulk of my paper-route money on aqua-net and wet-n-wild cosmetics in attempts to make myself beautimus for all those boys who had no interest in me. Freshman year, I spent all four-hundred dollars of my baby-sitting cash on a brand-name wardrobe that was sure to catch their eye. To my horror, I found out labels didn't have the same boyfriend currency in high school as they did in 8th grade. I was sixteen years old before I finally went steady with someone longer than a week and, as irony had it, he attended our rival school.

But during those tumultuous, painful years of adolescence and into young adulthood, I had two very best friends that buffered the blows of rejection and tempered my boy-crazy passions with adventure and drama of our own making. We spent most of our  free time like a lot of teenagers--at the mall, swimming and watching movies. The majority of weekends we could be found lounging outside my bedroom window on the roof wolfing junk food, pounding sodas, trading make-out stories and teaching each other the facts of life. We played truth-or dare and got in fist fights...okay, maybe we didn't punch each other but somehow I ended up sleeping on the couch after one nasty kerfuffle over a dare to drink peppered toilet water (I'm not bitter). We went to our first school dances and co-ed parties together, puffed our first cigarettes and...other stuff together.  They were the ones I risked sneaking out with those couple of times. Sometimes we even broke the law together. We'd conspire on the grocery store corner and sweet-talk the 20-something guys into buying us wine coolers. I managed to coerce one of my friends to join me on a quest to steal something just so we could "know what it felt like."  Subsequently, we were also arrested together and grounded from each other (she still doesn't like me to talk about it).  I loved both those girls like sisters. But eventually, we had to grow up. So we tried to do that together, too.


It seemed like overnight, life shifted from naivety and experimental to proficient and brazen in the field of bad choices. We frequented nightclubs, danced with strange men, got drunk and threw-up together. We started hanging out with shady types from the wrong side of the tracks. One time we braved a hitch-hike for two-hundred miles. Against all advice, I tried rooming together with one of my bff's, a fatal no-no for friendships.  The partying got harder and so did the tensions between us. Eventually accusations flew, venom spewed, and we reeled from the sting of  poisonous words probably not forgotten to this day. 
Living together ended ugly. Our friendship was near mortally wounded by it and went on life-support. We tried to make amends but not before I skipped out on her wedding because I was too cheap to buy a bridesmaid dress. She reluctantly forgave me with a caveat that she wouldn't be accepting any more of my apologies because "sorry" wouldn't be enough resuscitate her from another flat-line in our friendship, "sorry" just didn't change things.  It didn't take my mouth long to spit out enough daggers to completely sever any existing veins between us. We bled out and she made good on her word.


I'll never forget the day, probably the last time, we were together amicably. I asked her to describe my personality.  After some pause, she said I was "funny." I think there were a few more token compliments that stumbled out of her mouth before she got completely tongue tied. The conversation was awkward but the beginning of a sad awakening for me, it was the catalyst that drove me to find out who I really was. I truly didn't know. On that road to discovery (short version), I came to the conclusion that my identity was linked to the one who created me. I realized I wasn't programmed to function in my full capacity without the one who designed me. I was malfunctioning on my own.  Turns out, I was all those other things (besides funny) that my friend said I was.  I was selfish, I was mean and manipulative, I did hit below the belt and I liked to play dumb. I did blab secrets and kept ones from her I shouldn't have. That wasn't who I wanted to be but I didn't have the right heart or mind at the time to not do what I didn't want to do.

Meanwhile, I had also been eking out the last few months of a four-year and mutually twisted relationship with my son's dad, doing other things I swore I'd never do, sinking myself deeper into a different pit of regret before I finally begged God, if he was out there, to help me climb out of it. The boyfriend and I split up shortly after. From there I started going to church whenever I messed up and felt guilty.  
It wasn't a mad-dash to the alter kind of conversion for me. It was more like  an ardent, clumsy train wreck into final surrender of what I hoped was God's plan for me.  I was lonely. I had no friends, no money and I had a three year old son to raise. So I quit college and got a job. I was pregnant and married (in that order) before I finally felt like I could trust in God, in His ability, to change me on the inside as well as the circumstances and consequences entangling me.


Life looks much different now. But no matter how much my surroundings and I have changed over the years, I've always regretted the friendship that was lost.  If I could have said I was sorry, I would have admitted to my friend just how right she was about me. Truth is, I would have dumped me too if I were her.  But she was wrong in that being sincerely sorry doesn't change things. The remorse I took from that mangled union transformed my life.  This "new" life has had its own mistakes and regrets. Pain and loss haven't ceased just because I "changed my ways", though I get better with each new season of blunders and screw-ups. Thing is, I can look myself in the mirror now and that's a a hundred miles from where I came. Losing my one of my best friends was the first of many final-straws that helped me get here.


Steph said...

Lisa this is an amazing discovery! I love it! I know life has been hard work and I admire you still to this day. I love you very much even the bad parts

Christina said...

This was great! Introspection is always tough, but it takes a brave person to put it all out there. And I DO think you are pretty funny :)

Anonymous said...

Brave woman. I have regrets too, but I'm not ready (yet?) to admit them on the world wide web. Maybe in a few years. Until then, I'll admire gals like you, albeit from afar.

PEASwithCarrotsGIRL said...

What a journey and what an eloquent way of putting it into words!