I guess none of us really know what to say about what happened this week at Virginia Tech. But we feel like we ought to say something, so we do the best we can.
I’ve always felt a connection to the state of Virginia. I was born in Alexandria, grew up in Woodbridge, and went to school in Dale City for the first 13 years of my life. But then, 2 months before I turned 13 and right before I was to start the 8th grade, my family moved to North Carolina. This was, absolutely, The End Of The World As I Knew It.
I did not do a very good job of dealing with this change. To give myself credit I was only 13, and I had just left the only life I’d ever known. And, as it turned out, I had depression that went undiagnosed until I was 21.
Unfortunately the only way I knew how to deal with my misery was to take it out on everyone around me. I never hurt anyone physically, but I’m pretty sure I wounded a lot of people with my words and my attitude. I was angry. Hostile. Nasty. Judgmental. Intolerant. Self-righteous. I’d left a church school to come to a private, non-religious school, and left a more Northern culture only to find myself smack dab in the middle of all things Southern. So you’d better believe I took every opportunity I could find to look down upon all those “stupid Southern sinners” I suddenly found myself surrounded by.
Needles to say, I was not a very nice person to be around. And the people around me responded by not being very nice back.
I think things would have been A Lot worse if it hadn’t been for the people who were able to look past the fact that the only way I knew how to take care of myself and get my needs met was by being a jerk, and who chose to reach out and offer to help me.
And in light of what happened this week at VA Tech, I decided it was time for me to say thank you to all these people who made such a difference in that totally freaked out teenager’s life.
-my friends Liz, Julie, Kacey, and Kelly, and their parents, for giving me someone to talk to and somewhere safe and friendly to go
-Robyn, who was also a new student in the 8th grade, who took the time to notice that I was not handling things well and to tell me that she thought I needed to get some help
-my teachers, Miss Minnick, Mrs. Skidmore, Mrs. Ayala, and Mrs. Perkins, who never minded when I’d drop by their classrooms and fill up their planning period with conversation
-my piano teacher, Mrs. McCain, who helped me find a creative outlet
-my youth pastors, Jimmy and Patty Wade, Tim Tinsley, and Angela Thomas
-my husband, who I met and started dating when I was 17. My husband, who truly is the best person I’ve ever known, who saw past all the crazy to the real me underneath when I couldn’t see it, and who told me that it was good. That I was good.
Thank you all for seeing. Thank you for noticing me. Thank you for reaching out and offering to help. Thank you for loving me when I was a big, giant mess. Thank you.
And to all the people to whom I was so mean, most especially my classmates from 8th -12th grade, it is time I told you that I am sorry. I’m really sorry for the way I acted. I wish I’d known how to do things better back then, but I didn’t. The only thing I can say is that I learned from my mistakes, and I know how to do things better now.
I’d like to end this post with the following blessing for anyone who may be reading this.
May you be well.
May you be happy.
May you be free from suffering.