1978 was when all hell broke loose in my sister and my world and she ran away from home. She was 15 and I was 12.
She was being tormented and emotionally abused and I was completely powerless to stop it. She finally had enough and ran away from home. Our step-father was mean, abusive, manipulative, a drug addict and an alcoholic. Our mother was addicted to prescription pain killers and also an alcoholic. They were completely out of touch with what was going on in our world. And so my sister did the only thing she could do in order to survive. She left.
I had spent the last few years watching the systematic destruction of my sister and had become pretty good at becoming invisible, or so I thought. You be good, you do everything your told, plus some and everyone will leave you alone. It worked pretty well on the home front. I thought it worked pretty well wherever I went.
I just figured out today, that this is not so.
When I started high school, I was terrified. My big sister was not going to be there to protect me. I wasn’t going to have that automatic in with all the older kids. You know how terrifying it is to be a freshman – anything is fair game on freshman. I did what came the most naturally to me. I tried to become invisible. I tried to blend into the walls so that I wouldn’t rock the boat or draw attention to myself. So, I drifted through my entire freshman year like that. Just trying to not be seen.
The next year, I was ready to come out of my shell, a little. My girlfriends were trying to talk me into joining a club or team so that I would have something in my life. I tried out for cheerleading, which was a colossal failure. First of all, I am not that coordinated when it comes to dance routines; and second of all, I am not outgoing – at all. So my next trial was the cross country running team. There I fit right in. I could run for miles and escape my troubles. I had an excuse to stay after school and not have to go home. And I was actually pretty decent at it, who knew?!
Lately, my sister and I have been having a conversation with a person on facebook. We were talking about the old stomping grounds in CT and she was curious how this person knew both me and my sister. There was only a couple of years that any one person could have gone to school with the both of us. It would had to have been between 1975 and 1978, because those were the only years that we actually went to the same school, just not at the same time.
Turns out this person was was a freshman when my sister was a junior. And this same person was a Junior when I was a Sophomore. So I actually ran with this person on the cross country team for 2 years before they graduated in 1980/1981.
This person witnessed my sister and I going through some of the toughest times in our lives. During those times, both of us thought we were so alone in the world. We thought no one cared about either one of us, that no one noticed the pain we were going through. We both found solace in alcohol and drugs during those years of our lives. We didn’t think anyone noticed us at all.
Now, almost 30 years later, this guy remembers both of us. It made me feel comforted in a creepy sort of way. Here we were so desperately alone in the world, and yet we were not alone – ever! I am sure that this person was watching us spiral out of control with our drug and alcohol addictions. Possibly this person was feeling powerless or maybe he didn’t care at all, who knows. What does matter, is that he remembers us now. Maybe our decent into hell, kept him from following the same path. He seems to really have a good life now.
I guess my point with all this rambling is that you never know how you touch other people’s lives. You never know if, just by saying hello to someone, that you just made a big enough difference in their life to keep living theirs. Just by acknowledging to that person that you see them, you could be giving them strength.
So, say hello to that wall-flower or smile at someone on the street, you may make a difference in their life today!!!