Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Something has changed

Seventh grade is not a year I care to go back and relive. There are no memories that bring great joy when I think about that time in my life. Turning thirteen is every young girl's dream. I couldn't wait to be a teenager! But as soon as the day came, I was ready to give it all back and remain twelve years old forever. One particular day stands out in my mind that I will never forget. This one event will forever be a part of who I am. I know that someday I will tell my little Ava Beth this story and she will know that I am a real person and not just her mother. She will know that she can talk to me, she will know that I understand her pain. She will know that I am always on her side. And may this story give her hope that she can make it.

It was a normal day just like any other. I woke up that morning dreading my Pre-Algebra class and History but I looked forward to Volleyball practice and Choir. Those were the times of the day I looked forward to the most. These were the classes where I had the most fun, for I knew all of my friends would be there. In Athletics we could talk in the Locker room, in Choir we could pass notes, laugh, giggle, and all get in trouble at the same time. But on this particular day, I wanted to run away and never go back to school again. Heather was her name. And on this day, she was mad at me. I have no recollection of why she was angry, but I remember her anger quite well. As I walked into the choir room, it happened! For the first time in my life I was called the "B" word. Even now that word haunts me! I can still hear Heather saying, "B____!" My heart began to pound, my face turned red and I don't remember exactly what I said to her but I do remember how I felt. I sat down in my assigned seat, in front of Heather. She was behind me and the rest of my friends who were also Heather's friends were sitting in different places all over the room. Slowly I begin to make eye contact with each friend in the room. Each one looked at me with anger. Some rolled their eyes. Some ignored me completely. It was then I realized that every single one of them felt was Heather was feeling. And then the fire drill went off!

So we all lined up and made our way outside. Our teacher instructed us to wait underneath the tree across the parking lot facing the choir room door. It was the longest five minutes of my life. While the entire school went to their assigned places outside, we had to wait for each teacher to get a count of students and report it to the principle. As we waited, the girls began to congregate and whisper.
I was standing alone while they talked about me. Then Heather looked at me and said, "Don't even look at us because we can't stand you AMANDA LIVINGSTON!" I began to cry and then she began to mock me and make fun of my crying. It was horrible. Thinking about it makes me laugh but also makes me sad. During that time in life it seems that everything is life or death. When the movie Mean Girls came out I refused to watch and I still refuse to watch it. What I felt standing underneath that tree was the strongest insecurity I have ever felt in my life. Eventually everything blew over, it always does in 7th grade. Eventually, we all hated Heather, they hated me again and then hated someone else. The days I was accepted by that group of girls was incredible. The days I was rejected were horrible. If only then I knew the woman I would become. If only then I knew that Heather would mean nothing years later. If someone could have told me, "Amanda, someday you will be a wife and a mommy and live just a few blocks away from this school. What's happening today will mean nothing in seventeen years. This school will still be here, the tree will still be here but you will not be who you are today."

Today I drove by my old school where I attended 7th grade. Actually, it is less than a mile from my house. It's kind of funny that six months ago, we moved back to the area I grew up in. Every time I go to the store, I see Harwood Junior High and remember that day in front of the school. The school looks exactly the same, the tree I stood under is still there. One thing has changed, me.

As painful as it may be to think back to such a sad event, it's refreshing! It's refreshing to know that I will be thirty years old in about five weeks and what you say about me doesn't mean a darn thing anymore. It may hurt a little, it may make me shed a few tears but I know that it doesn't mean anything to who I am. Harwood Junior High is still there, the tree is still there and I am sure Heather is now a wonderful lady (I pray so). But one thing is for sure, I am not that girl anymore. About a year ago at this same exact time, everyone's comments, dirty looks, or attitude towards me got under my skin. While others were being mean, spiteful and sneaky, I was letting it control me. I faced a situation where I wanted to get even, make others pay and expose who they really were. And at times, I did. I was back on the front lawn of Harwood Junior High giving into the same feelings I had at thirteen years old, only difference I was twenty eight years old. That situation is no longer in my life nor the people, but the pain is. Days creep up on me that take me back. The anger, the hurt, the depression, the betrayal takes me back to that girl a year ago. But, now something has changed, me!

A few months ago I began a journey in my life of extreme change.
I have written about this often. It was a change of address, a change of friends and a change of who I was and who I felt I was. As I experience new faces, new scenery, new places, new ideas in my life, it's a struggle to not go back to the feelings of the past. It's a struggle to not bring all that I felt back then to the place I am at now. So since this is a journey, I have to make a few stops along the way. Today, my stop was the the tree in front of the school at Harwood Junior High. I'm not the same girl, I don't feel the same way, I don't believe the same things. I know who I am in Christ, I know who I want to be and I know who I don't want to be. Just as the School remains exactly the same, so do the experiences that I suffered. Just as the tree remains in the same spot that it always has, so do the memories of how I felt long ago. But Amanda is not the same.

Lord, you are constantly healing me from the past. Thank you.
Thank you for speaking to me today. Thank you for bringing me out of where I was. Help to love and constantly forgive the people in my life that hurt me. Right now I feel so loved, so accepted and so free with those in my life. But I know that it is inevitable, I will be hurt again. Hold onto my heart, protect me and help me to not give my heart to the wrong people and when and if I do, help me once again to heal. Thank you Jesus for the woman you are helping me to become. For you are the only one I live to please and if I live to please you, I will instantly be pleasing to others.


Laura said...

Thank you for sharing that prayer. I needed that! Love you!

Kelly Ann said...

Thank you for sharing! I love you!

Minnie said...

That was awesome! Thanks for sharing. :o)

Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

Great story Amanda. Strange enough 7th grade was my worst year ever too. I moved to a new school (Lord I pray I don't have to do that to my kids) where everyone was into sports (except me) so if you weren't you were the geek. I was made fun of, inside and out, hurt, called names, I was the victim of many jokes in JR High, that carried over until High School. It wasn't until my Junior year that things changed> You know why they changed? I became a different person. Don't get me wrong, I've been a Christian since 9 years old but I mean, I realized what you said.

I am a wonderful person in Christ, He is the only one that matters. Even if I eat lunch alone for the rest of my life, I am cared for by the most important being there is.

When my attitude changed, do you know that the popular group actually treated me different? I even had one of them come to me and say "you are so nice...". That was huge from one of "them".

I realized it was more important for me to be friendly than have friends. (Well, I think you know what I mean) In other words: be friendly regardless of whether or not they were my friends. You know what? It worked.

I too would never want to relive my JR High, or High School years. In fact, I don't really have any good memories that are related to my school experiences.

But I too, am so thankful that God loves me, and that He made me the way he loves me and meant for me to be.

And WHO AM I to try and change that?

Christy said...

I can relate! I wouldn't go back to HS for anything, Thank God I am not who I was nor am I who I am going to be! Great post!

Karen Pierce said...

6th and 7th grade were most most memorable years of school -- good memories. I think it was 7th grade I was voted "class clown". What an honor! Then we moved! Eighth grade was horrible and it got worse each year. I wish they could see me now! Wrong attitude I know but I have changed. My values and principles have not changed but I carry them with much more dignity than I did then. I hold my head up now. I bet they have changed too. Bullies usually do and bullies usually are hurting more themselves than they hurt others -- that is why they strike out -- it's their own pain; their own fear of unacceptance of their peers.

I have enjoyed watching you grow and watching you change right before my eyes. You are a butterfly -- you've got your wings -- fly, baby! I love you. Mom

Erin said...

Amanda I loved this story -- It's so great you're getting past what so many of us women face -- thanks for sharing!

Sheila said...

This is a great post. I had a similar horrible jr high experience. I am so excited to teach my daughter, who is shockingly assertive, confident, and popular (!), to befriend people like me, people who are on the fringes of social groups. Kindness costs so little, but means so much.

Your blog is great. Are you a speaker or published author?

Amanda said...

Thank you Sheila. I would love to be a published author and I have a friend that has been pursuing that avenue for me. As far as speaking, that is my calling. God has called me to minister to Women through speaking and singing. Thank you for reading my blog and your daughter sounds like a beautiful young woman.