Where I'm From.
Friday, September 12, 2014
I was watched, constantly. Not only by my overprotective parents, but by everyone else as well. My parents knew everything I'd done before I even walked through the door five minutes later. It was a strange way to grow up, but it was all I knew. It gave me a false sense of security, and probably of entitlement. I was one of the "rich girls" in town with a nice car and a big house. There wasn't a lot of that in my hometown.
But one thing that my parents always made sure I knew is that I was no better than anyone else. Because I wasn't. If I would have lived just 30 minutes away in Tulsa, we would have been your average upper middle class family. We may have been more fortunate than others, and I was well aware of that, but I hope and pray that I never, ever came across as snobby or stuck up.
In a small school there aren't a whole lot of "cliques". There typically are just "the popular kids"...no jocks or skaters or potheads or cheerleaders. Sure, we had all of those things, but none of that determined who was popular and who wasn't. I'm really not sure what did. Even though I fell in line with the more popular group, I truly believed I was a friend to everyone. I've always been on the quieter side, a little more shy especially at a young age, and I'm afraid that may have come across as something that it wasn't. But I do know that I had several kids write in my yearbook that last year and thank me for always being so nice to them...and that meant more to me than being "popular" ever could have.
Life in that town was so easy for me in so many ways, and so hard in others. From the outside it must have looked like I really had it all going for me. "Rich" parents, a "huge" house, a nice car, I was a cheerleader, I had a lot of friends...I'm sure some people were envious, and I know others hated me for it. But in my actual life, on the inside where no one could see, it wasn't so wonderful. My parents didn't get along. At all. We lacked a real family unit. At that point, it was basically me and my mom, and then my dad. We rarely ever did anything as a family....I even remember thinking it was strange if the three of us went somewhere together or spent any amount of time together, and inevitably things would end unpleasantly.
From the end of my freshman year until just after graduation, I dated an older guy who treated me terribly. So terribly. I have never been so disrespected in my life, and after that relationship I knew I would never let it happen again. He constantly cheated on me, lied to me, put me down...he would promise to come see me, then never show up. Days later he would call and turn it into my fault somehow. He did a lot of drugs, and he took me into some really sketchy situations that looking back on I cannot believe I allowed myself to be in as such a young girl. I never, ever tried one drug or took one sip of alcohol when I was with him, and I'm sure I have my parents influence to thank for that. I repeatedly found out about girls that he slept with...a friend of a friend, a girl we went to church with, a younger girl at school. It was miserable. I was horribly depressed, not only because of him, but because I truly suffered from depression. I contemplated suicide. I hated my life. I thought things would never get better.
And yet, I had it all...in the eyes of all the people surrounding me in that tiny little town, I really had it all going for me. Sure, people knew about the crazy boyfriend, but I'm positive no one really knew what was going on, aside from friends of his who had little sympathy for me. People just knew I was dating this guy who went to our school a few years before and had a not-so-great reputation. I'm sure people wondered why on earth we were together, but while I was at school he rarely came up.
I think growing up in that type of place really makes me appreciate the anonymity that comes with living in a bigger city. I rarely run into people I know. I'm just another face in the crowd. I don't have to worry about constantly being judged. I don't have any type of image to uphold, because no one knows me here. Sure, I miss the slower pace, the friendly faces, the sense of community...there are some really amazing advantages to growing up in a small town, and I'll forever be grateful that I had that experience. But thank God I married a man who would never survive in a small town...because I'm positive I could never go back.
I haven't been to my hometown, other than a quick drive through, in several years. My parents got divorced and they both moved. Very few of my friends still live there. I have no reason to go. It makes me nervous just thinking about it...all the people I'd see, the questions I'd be asked...people's surprise at seeing me there. I don't feel like I have any enemies by any means, in fact, I mostly have warm feelings for the people from that phase in my life. Sometimes I feel a little homesick...not so much for the actual physical place, but just for that time in my life. Although it was far from perfect, especially in my later years there, it was home. I felt safe, loved, protected...there's just something about living with your mom and your dad that can never be replaced. I'm just so far removed from that now, it feels so foreign. Even though growing up there is so much a part of who I am, it seems like another life. I'm so thankful for everything I experienced, even the less than pleasant side of things, because I'm sure I wouldn't be who I am today without it.