You know… life is strange sometimes. You never really know what twists and turns fate has in store for you.
I just finished reviewing “The Breakfast Club” on my Movie-A-Week blog, and there was something that happened to me recently that I wanted to write about in that blog… but somehow… it just felt more appropriate here. In the personal blog.
Many of you know how hard my childhood was. Many of you know of my early alcohol and drug use (pre-jr. high experiences for those who don’t really know)… needless to say… I was pretty messed up in High School. I was very self-destructive, I hated my parents, I hated the kids in my school, and I hated myself.
The one thing I felt I was good at at the time was Soccer. I was damn fine goalkeeper. And I worked very hard at it. As a matter of fact, if I hadn’t had soccer between my Jr. High years and my Junior Year of High School, I think I would have fallen back into the alcohol and drugs. Soccer was very important to me.
So you can imagine how frustrated I was that I never seemed to be able to break into the Varsity squad my Junior year. It was disheartening and made me very unhappy. I spent the entire Jr. year doing everything I could to bulk up, trim down, speed up… whatever I was asked… in the hopes that the coaches would give me my shot at the Varsity squad. It was a roller coaster year. First I was told to gain weight since I was so short, I needed to bulk up. So I weight trained and put on 25lbs of muscle mass in a few months… then I was told I was too big… needed to lose some weight. So onto the Veggie diet I went and I lost 15lbs in a little over a month. Now I was told I was too slow. Needed to speed up. Maybe think about gaining some weight again.
On and on it went. It was a nightmare.
Amidst all of the torture the coaches put me through there was one player that, unbeknownst to him, was the focus of all my anger and resentment at the time. He was a Jr. as well. We weren’t friends, but we shared a lot of them (mostly because of soccer) and we had both become very good goalkeepers over time. He was taller than me… a point that was frequently made to me when I asked why I wasn’t playing Varsity and he was. I think the most annoying thing in all of this was that the criticisms I received were never about my play… rather I was told that I had this insurmountable height disadvantage with this other kid. And I hated him for it. Every week I’d watch the Varsity team play, with him in the goal and I’d grow more and more resentful… I’d become so angry. And I blamed him.
For what? I’m not sure. I blamed him for being tall… I blamed him for being decent enough at playing that his height was the determining factor between us. I hated him for being popular, respected, well liked. I hated him for having what I felt I deserved.
And I held onto that hate for years. I held onto it through Senior year when I quit soccer. I hated him whenever I drove past a soccer field in college and realized that I’d thrown away my chances at playing in college. I hated him when the MLS started and I began to wonder about what could have been.
I hated him for a long time…
That is.. Until…
Until I realized that I didn’t really hate him. I eventually came to realize that I hated myself for giving in to the coaches. For letting them put me on that roller coaster ride that year. For not standing up for myself and telling them what was on my mind. I hated myself for just quietly taking their torture all year. And finally, I hated myself for allowing them to have enough power over me that I walked away from it all.
I didn’t hate that other Goalkeeper at all. I didn’t even know him. And he never did anything to me. He never hurt me. He never openly ridiculed me, or gave me a hard time. He just played the game, as I should have done.
Imagine my surprise when I reconnected with him recently on Facebook. (I love reconnecting with people online!) At first I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to connect with him. Even though I’d released that anger a long time ago… some lingering feeling remained.
But in the spirit of letting the past go, I friended him.
Weeks went by and we never messaged each other, or anything like that. I just sort of quietly watched his updates roll along. I found them interesting… he is now a family man… he still seems to be playing soccer… at least with his kids… he seems happy… then one day…
One day I decide to write a movie blog. I put some feelers out there for input from my friends on what kinds of movies to watch. Lo and behold, he gives me his thoughts on it. Turns out he really loves movies. He reads my first blog and makes some really nice compliments on the blog. We start up a discussion and it leads to him watching another movie I suggest and we chat about film a bit. It’s all very cool.
And eventually, this past week, it lead to an all night IM session on Facebook where we started chatting about movies and then eventually we started chatting about High School.
Imagine how amazed I was, when this guy I despised for so long in school reveals to me that he hated himself in high school. That he was angry and self-loathing and felt out of place with everyone. Including feeling out of place with the soccer team!
Unbelievable. We were so much alike in our views about High School I found myself laughing. Here was the kid I had focussed so much anger towards for so long because I thought he had everything… and guess what? He was just as confused and angry and lost as I was! Amazing!
We had a really wonderful chat that night. It was refreshing getting to connect with him. It was the final piece I needed, I think, to fully move beyond the hang ups of my youth. Amazing.
Oh, and I’ve had several conversations over the years with all sorts of people from High School. And the one thing that seems to be true for nearly everyone is that NO ONE felt like they had their shit together then. Everyone felt lost, alone, confused… if not all the time, then certainly a lot of the time.
I guess that’s just part of the experience in High School. I explore that a bit more in my “Breakfast Club” blog… read it if you want to see more of my thoughts on that.
But to leave this post let me say this…
I’ve been a student, and a teacher… I’ve experienced both sides of High School… It’s not easy from either side. And knowing that now… I want to apologize to my teachers, and any fellow students who I caused any pain towards during those years. I hope that the years have treated everyone kindly and that the future is bright for everyone!