Saturday, September 08, 2012

Deja Vu All Over Again

This has been a strange, strange day.

First, a bit of background - - I grew up in a small town, and attended a Catholic Grade School. It wasn't a good experience for me, and I do not have many good memories of that place. In fact, I can only think of 1 year (5th Grade) that I could consider a good, happy time. I only went there 7 out of the 8 grades, and then went to the public Junior High for 8th and 9th grades, then on to the public high school.

Seventh Grade was the most difficult year for me. The teacher, Sister Mary Rosalie, was also the Mother Superior for that Convent. She was difficult at best as a teacher. At the first part of the year, she acted okay towards me; actually, she acted TOO okay towards me, to the point where some of the other students started called me a "teacher's pet" and really giving me a hard time. Well, I soon found out why she was acting so favorably towards me - - she (or maybe the voices in her head) had decided that I had "the calling" and she had me targeted for Sisterhood (Nunhood? Whatever the hell you call it).

How did I find this out? Apparently she was talking to my parents. A lot. A LOT. To the point where they were pretty much convinced that maybe there might be something to it.

Finally, my parents said something to ME about it. (Yeah, THANKS Mom and Dad for FINALLY including me in on the conversation) I was shocked, to put it mildly. I was NOT in any way even remotely thinking about that as a life path, not at all! I had NO interest in it! My parents then told me that Sr. Rosalie had apparently been talking to them quite a lot, and had even talked to them about me attending the all-girls Catholic high school in Springfield, and then going on from there to becoming a Novice.

Oh.My.God. No. Just - - NO.

Needless to say, I was scared half out of my mind. Here my parents thought that she had been talking about this with ME, and that I was totally on board with all of this, and that she was talking with THEM on my behalf. WHICH WAS SO TOTALLY NOT THE CASE.

I was so afraid that things had already been planned and put in place, and that I would be forced into going somewhere and doing something I had NO desire to go to or do. It was such a scary time that I just burst into tears. I think THAT is probably what finally made my parents realize just exactly what had been going on, and they were finally able to calm me down by letting me know that if I did not want it, it would not happen that way.

Then they decided to let Sr. Rosalie know. And THAT? Is when the REAL fun started.

Sr. Rosalie changed overnight from treating me as if I were the "golden child" to treating me as if I were something she just scraped off her shoe. She ridiculed me and belittled me in front of the class at any opportunity. She even had the nerve to say one time that I was going to just be nothing but trash and be a product of the streets. (She stopped just short of calling me a whore)

It was hell. Sheer, total HELL.

It got to the point where I would get sick whenever it was time to go to school, but never got sick on the weekends. I would cry for no reason. I had nervous twitches and was jumpy all the time. And I was scared to death to tell my parents, because I was scared to death that it would just make the situation even worse.

But I finally told them. And the met with the Sister. And I don't know exactly what all was said, but when they got home they told me there was nothing to worry about.

And they were right - - kind of. Apparently they had it out with her, big time, and also informed her that I would NOT be attending the school for 8th grade; that they were pulling me out and sending me to the public Junior High a year early.

Sr. Rosalie started just pretty much ignoring me. Which was fine. The school year went pretty much uneventful (at least where she was concerned) except for one or two incidents. But, it was much easier to take it in stride, knowing that I was leaving at the end of the school year and would not have to put up with her much longer.

ANYWAY - - I told THAT story to explain what happened TODAY.....

The Grade School is celebrating their 125th Anniversary, and today was their Open House. Dad called to tell me about it, and I got the distinct impression he wanted me to go with him, since he is sponsoring the 3rd Grade classroom and wanted to meet the teacher.

The last thing I wanted to do was go into that school. For any reason. But it was for my Daddy, so I went. And was actually pleasantly surprised.....

The school has been completely redone inside. And they have TECHNOLOGY. Every classroom has a SmartBoard, a laptop, and Elmo's. They have a computer lab with 17 stations running Windows 7 Professional, and Office 2010. (Yeah, the computer "geek" in me is jumping with joy!) Classrooms are light and airy, with lots of good things to teach the students.

I went through the school, looking at my old classrooms, just amazed at all the changes and up-to-date equipment. Then, while Dad was visiting with the 3rd Grade teacher, I decided it was time. Time to face my old "demons" and go back into my old 7th grade classroom. And even though I know it was many, many years ago, and that my old nemesis is long gone, it took everything inside me to make myself walk in that room. And the whole time I was talking with the 5th Grade teacher (who has that room now) and we were having a good time discussing the technology and all the new things, my nerves were still twitching. That was the room of my worst gradeschool nightmares. And even though everything - and I do mean EVERYTHING - has changed in there, that room still haunted me.

Guess it always will. Because you see, Sr. Rosalie may have been my worst nightmare in that room, but there was another incident that happened in there that only three people know about - - myself, the perpetrator, and one other classmate who came to my "rescue" know about. I never told the teacher (as if she would have done anything about it? Not bloody likely...), and I never told my parents. I have not ever told anyone about it, and even to this day (around 45 years later), I can't. I never see the perpetrator, since he and his family moved right after that school year (thank God!). I still see my "rescuer" now and then at class reunions and such, and we talk about school and even about Sr. Rosalie, but he and I never mention that incident and the part he played in helping me.

Wonder if I will ever be able to let it go? Maybe someday, maybe not. But at least going to the Open House today showed me that time has passed and things are completely different. Maybe that will help me move past this also.

Someday. Maybe.

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