09 March 2017

All Grown Up...

Do you know when you grew up?

I mean, I’ve had this theory for a while that most people grow up, or mature, when they’re forced to.

I grew up in early October, 1991. I’d been out of high school for a little more than a year. I was working retail and going to school for marketing, I think (I may have changed my major a few times…).

It was a weekend, when it all changed. From what I’ve heard, my brother took the life-changing phone call. He was able to reach my parents, who were camping nearby. When I walked in the door to our house after work, I was surprised to see the three of them (my parents, and my brother) sitting in the living room. Something had to have happened.

I got the news that has literally eclipsed who I used to be. My best friend from high school had committed suicide in her college dorm room. The old me ceased existing, or maybe just the adult me immediately evolved.

We hadn’t obviously seen each other every day anymore – she was a few hours away at college. But even a few hours away, I was supposed to be her best friend. I’d let her down in the most ultimate way, and now I just deserved to be alone. She felt she had no one to turn to, so now neither did I.

Like I said, I really don’t remember a lot of who I was before that, and I just remember snippets of things around that time. I started dating an ex-boyfriend, just because he’d met her when we were dating before. I remember that work got a lot easier. Everyone knew what had happened, so they all wanted to make my life easier. I sat and stared into space for hours, while getting paid for working retail – they put me where there were the least customers, to take the pressure off me. I quit eating for a little while. And when I lost weight (from my 110 lb frame), I finally started counseling for my depression.

Counseling just taught me to get through the days. It taught me that not everyone imagines dying (did I already know this? Had I been depressed before she died? I don’t know). Anti-depressants numbed everything for a while, but numb doesn’t really fix things. I quit feeling all of it. So I wasn’t actively sad anymore, and I gained the weight back, but I wasn’t really happy either.

After counseling was done, I’d moved on to alcohol and loser boyfriends. Classic college combination. ;) And then I remember how it all started when I found a note while moving apartments. In the bottom of a dresser drawer I didn’t usually need, I found a note to myself, “I promise I will never be happy again.” It was dated in 1991. I had forbidden myself from enjoying a life my best friend was no longer an active part of.

I realized, logically, that this was a horrible choice. I deserved no penance or punishment for my best friend’s choice. I’d had enough counseling and education to know, intelligently, that I didn’t really play much of a part in it. Sometimes it can be a blessing or a curse to realize how little influence you may have on others…

I’ve moved on a long way since then, but I’ve never fully recovered the memories from my life before she died, or even the time when I wasn’t allowed to be happy and live my life fully. I now have a dark sense of humor, and a rather jaded response to pain at times. But I know what is important in my life. I value the friends and family who love me as I am. And I know that nothing is guaranteed, and everyone gets to make their own choices in the end.

So, I’ve wanted to write more of myself. I don’t really need a comment page of, ‘So sorry this happened!’

Do you agree that something forced you to grow up? Can it ever be something good, or do only bad things force people to mature? Just pondering…


Liz Parker said...

Oh wow - I'm sorry to hear that. I'm not sure if I can pinpoint an exact time or event for me, but when my grandmothers both died (in 1999 and 2003) that forced me to grow up a bit.

Nancy B said...

Based on my own experiences and the majority of others I know it has always been a bad event and not a good one. For me the starting point was when my 15 year old brother died of cancer - I was eleven. The whole thing was not handled the best - things were different back then and as a parent now I don't know what I would do so can't blame my parents for how they handled it. But I did blame them for many years. Jump ahead 7 years and losing a friend to a drug overdoes changed my whole outlook - went for counseling, seems it was similar to your experience- but it did help me to see things from a different perceptive and gave me the tools to use to fight depression. Growing up is hard.

Jenn said...

Yes, sadly I do remember when I had to grow up. For me, it's a time I like to reflect on. I sometimes think we live several lives over our lifetime. I know my life has felt that way. Forever changing.

Mom Among Chaos said...

This is the best post I've read from you. Thanks for sharing. That is so hard. I was forced to grow up when I moved out on my own. I hated being alone, and I started dating Matt. I learned to really appreciate my family.