I grew up in Green Bay, WI. We weren’t rich, but nowhere near poor. We didnt want.
In our backyard, in the far back corner, there was a willow tree. Google Earth assures me its still there. This willow was my favorite place in the world. I never quite fit in with the kids in the neighborhood, much to my mom’s dismay. I was (am?) a tomboy and socially awkward. My tree was everything life couldnt provide me.
The life that existed while alone with my willow was peaceful. There were no expectations that I needed to live up to or rules to follow or judgements. When I was in my tree, I was perfect. I could spend all day climbing the tree as high as I could get and just sitting, looking at the world around me with an appreciation and awe that eluded me with my feet on the ground.
I did have kids in the neighborhood I played with. Kick the can, kickball, hide and go seek…the games kids played when I was little. I remember these activities always caused me some level of anxiety. I did better in one on one situations. When there were more than me and one other person, the likelihood that I would eventually be excluded was a given. Waiting for it to happen was such a stress filled block of time. I wish I had been able to just exclude myself from going through this, but I was already longing desperately for acceptance.
It hurts to look back and remember, feel those feeling all over, again, and realize those same feelings have followed me throughout my life in every social situation I’ve ever been in. Perhaps this is part of what spurred the begining of my 20+ years of binge drinking, drug use, and directionless running. Some may say that would be an excuse. I do not agree. I’m not saying my social awkwardness is to blame for my choices, because the choices were mine to make. I’m just saying that maybe being socially awkward, along with all of the uncomfortable feelings that come with that, provided a window for entering into the “druggie” world that I found too enticing to pass up. Anything, at the time, would have been better than being me, in my mind, and drugs and alcohol gave me that escape.
So, at the very young age of 11 years old, I grabbed on to that beast and rode for everything to be someone else.