The older I get, the more I appreciate how pain is healed in different ways.
Sometimes, love is the ultimate healer. Other times, it is justice that cures the ailment in your heart. Sometimes it’s time that lets your heart heal. Even tears can help at the right memory.
I know this because sometimes I can recall a moment in my life, years before, and it feels just as terrible as it did when I was living through it. Most of the time, it’s a memory of something that’s silly to me now. After all, what’s my freshman prom compared to my wedding?
Ah, and there we go. Awkward memory trigger warning.
I was in ninth grade when I got to go to the high school social. That’s what a mini-prom was called, because we were being rewarded in a small way for making it through junior high, and lulled into a stupor about actually getting into the senior high school.
Ninth grade was a good year for me. It was a year I actually had fun, even though my yearbook picture looks terrible. I am not just kidding about that. I saw it the other day and it’s terrible. I tried too hard to make it look good.
Ninth grade was a year I have more good memories of than bad ones. I hated eighth grade.
But I was in ninth grade, and we were going to have a social. Naturally, everyone either hated it or loved it, but we were all either pretty excited about it, or we went along with everyone who was excited about it. It was almost like a rite of passage, even though I realize now it’s silly.
It was far from silly at the time. Which is why I was so happy when I asked a boy if he wanted to go with me, and he did. (He was my second choice, but he was a good-looking second choice.) I was exhilarated for the week, especially since he came over to my locker and he would flirt with me in front of my friends.
I was accepted, I was applauded, and I was happy. It felt good.
I got a great dress (my mother spent way too much money on it; I recognize that now), I got my hair styled professionally, and I got my eyebrows waxed for the first time, and my nails done. It was a time of magic. I had a real-life fairy godmother, her name was Visa.
My parents dropped me off and I met my date, Zack. He was pretty popular; he was one of those “cool” people, that were just “cool” and no one really could explain why. He said hi and let my parents take pictures and he was nice about everything.
Until about thirty minutes later, when he caught sight of his crush and her boyfriend. Zack asked if he could go check in with them, and then more or less left me alone for the next hour. When he came back, it was only because I’d been asking about him (I was actually desperate to get away from my “friends,” who had discovered how to suck the helium out of the balloons hanging up.)
He came back, by the way, wearing “I Love Hooters” stickers, souvenirs from his friends and their pre-mini-prom food outing.
Somewhat unbelievably, I had to explain to him I was a bit upset about that. I did it in a nice way, and Zack was nice about it. I think I managed to make him feel the soft-repentant form of guilt, where he changed into a gentleman for close to the rest of the social, but then we never really spoke to each other after that. I never really told anyone the truth of what happened. It was embarrassing and very disappointing.
Getting pulled back into those moments makes me feel terrible. It was terrible. Even getting pulled back into the present feels like walking through drudge.
I want to tell myself stuck in that moment that it’ll be alright in the end – and in fact, it’ll be better! I’ll end up with a husband who, first of all, does not like Hooters, and second of all, he loves me even with all my embarrassing or uncertain or tumultuous emotions and feelings.
And there are two big things I want to say right now:
- Be Honest.
I wouldn’t have been so upset if Zack had told me the whole story before, or if he hadn’t “tried” to “like me, like me.” This memory probably sticks with me so much just because I feel like I wasted a magical moment of high school with someone who was okay with wasting my time. So girls, don’t waste someone’s time, and guys, be honest with girls. It’ll hurt their feelings, but it won’t destroy them the way leading them on and faking it will.
- Faith is a powerful force.
I’ve heard people say that having faith “things will get better” or having faith in God “is a waste of time.” I might have been lonely in that memory, but I remember crying later on in the night (at home, make-up removed, dress crumbled up in the corner) and realizing God had better for me than someone who just looked good. And I got him! And guess what? Not only have my “dreams come true,” but I have new dreams that are coming true, too. (Case in point, my husband is remodeling our bathroom right now for me.)
If you are having a lonely night where Ben&Jerry’s are the only ones who are able to pillow your pain, know that the best is yet to come. If you’re having a great day, know that there are more great days ahead. God is good to us, all the time.
Make me feel better and share one of your awkward memories in the comments below!