The Best Times?

Recently I realized that the only period in my history wherein most of the people I knew still have good feelings about me is high school.

They are the ones who are on my Facebook, along with a smattering of others. I’m not on Facebook very much, it doesn’t really work for me in the way I would like it to. I’m aware that others (including my FB friends) feel the same way.

Now, high school is usually awful for many kids. At the time, however, my health was reasonably good and I had become an extrovert and a minor cheerleader for a time until I was kicked off due to one bad grade in my worst subject. That is a horrible story for another time.

What I’m thinking is that high school was the time when I had the fewest FLEAS, even though my N mother was in full blown narcissistic rage and abuse during most of that time.

I was still resilient, and still hopeful for — indeed, believed in — the future.

I was very friendly and wanted to like everyone. I became aware of cliques for the first time, and tried to avoid them. They seemed strange and foreign to my basic nature, because I am interested in people from all walks of life. I don’t limit myself to a narrow arena of friends and acquaintances. For the most part I succeeded in avoiding those high school cliques.

I have a lot of warm fuzzy feelings about most of my high school friends (except G, the female narcissist who glommed onto me in freshman year for NS – Narcissistic Supply). That friend cast a shadow over high school, along with some other more minor stuff.

Mostly, however, the experience was good, and it is the guys who like me and get along with me. That’s because in high school I was nobody’s lover and everybody’s friend. It was safer that way.

As for the girls, some of them can now be terribly catty and gossipy, and they’re the ones who look you up and down and then turn their heads the other way leaning toward their cohorts, with their mouth hidden by the back of their hand. They’re the ones who listened to the untrue gossip I’m aware of that has circulated about me.

At the time, however, I had a lot of girlfriends and I didn’t understand why they were always fighting with their boyfriends. It seemed so silly and foolish to me, and a big waste of time. Many of them ran to me for advice, and I would be on the phone for 4 hours a night counseling them.

Because of the era and the location, there were a lot of neat guys in my high school. The boys were just guys to say hi to and be friendly with. Good, down-to-earth, from decent families type of guys. I was too shy and self-conscious to go any further than friendship, because I was convinced that I didn’t have what it took to attract boys.

And of course, my N mother was no help. She once even admonished me: “Do NOT ask me about boys. I know NOTHING about boys.” Much later in life I found out that she had known plenty about boys, and was never shy around them. She simply didn’t want to advise me, guide me, help me be successful in the romance department.

So imagine my surprise when a male friend from high school recently told me that he’d had a crush on me. I just am confounded by that. How could I not have noticed? And he can’t believe I didn’t know. How could that have slipped by me? I thought he was cute, and he was very nice, popular, smart and talented. Talented to the point that a couple members of The Buffalo Springfield actually ripped off 2 songs that he and another friend had written the music and lyrics to. Imagine cuing up the latest “record” and hearing your songs being played by a super group – without credit or remuneration! (But I digress.)

What would I have done had I known that he liked me? I just don’t know. It’s all so fuzzy in my mind, and tainted by the fact that I had a bad case of unrequited love for a jerk across town from another high school in addition to low self-esteem and confidence in the romance department. As long as boys were only my friend, it was safe and I could avoid the trembling and stomach aches that happened whenever I felt any kind of rejection.

I’m so glad I have great memories of high school and some warm fuzzy connections with members of both sexes. It’s fun to reminisce about the home town and the high school experience. It’s fun to see what people are doing 42 years later (holy crap!! 42 years!! We are ancient!!)

I know that there are people who don’t show up because they’ve had all kinds of horrible stuff happen in their lives, or they don’t remember high school well for whatever reason. That’s a shame, because I don’t care about that stuff, I just want to see my friends. But I do accept that they aren’t up to an intense public reunion.

Then there are the people who do show up and it’s clear that with some of them there is something very, very wrong. Along about the 30th reunion, people started being kind about it instead of whispering. It’s sad to see your friends flounder or collapse altogether. I myself have to endure hearing about vacations, second homes, secure retirement, grandchildren, etc. while not having much in the way of anecdotes to offer myself. But it’s not enough to keep me from wanting to connect.

Because of my lifelong bad reactions to so many narcissists in my life, I’m left picking up the pieces and starting over in life. And I have to tread lightly because 2-3 of those N’s are still around waiting to strike should I step out of (their) line.

After high school is when it all got tricky. I had a lot of FLEAS, but didn’t know it. I entered young adulthood not knowing what the hell was going on, thanks to my teetotaling middle-class church-going parents and the bucolic suburb I grew up in. They did their best, but I was unprepared for the cruel world out there. And I let too many people run roughshod over me in the name of forgiveness and turning the other cheek.

It’d be nice to get together with someone from high school — someone with whom I share some long ago history, but I doubt anything will come of it.

Instead of letting this post get too long as I often do, I’ll just say that high school –with all its challenges, and there were several — was the sweetest time for me. An age of innocence, even though things in our society were violently busting loose all over amidst great chaos and confusion. An age where most of the people remember me as I’d like to be remembered: friendly and fun, without all the crap and baggage that ensued in later years. The stuff that prevented people from experiencing the best me — the real me.

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