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The Girl I Was and the Girl I Am

I was lucky enough to be pretty well-liked in high school – at least I felt very well liked. I wasn’t a popular girl or anything. In fact, in jr. high I was bullied every day of my life. People called me “rat face” and made fun of how I looked and even what I ate. I liked cheese an awful lot. Dammit I still like cheese! Cheese is delicious! But I digress. I really hit my stride in high school.

I thought I’d found out who I was and what made me special. I’d found my “cutie mark,” for those of you of the Brony persuasion. I know I’ve already mentioned that I was the youngest colorguard captain in the school’s history but it’s worth mentioning again. The guard was bigger than ever and earned more recognition than ever before. For those of you who don’t know much about Southern marching band culture, a little explanation: Drum Majors are the students chosen to lead the band, and the guard captain leads the dancers. Guard captain is pretty much the second highest rank in band just below drum majors. While there are section leaders who lead each instrument group, they’re generally only well known to their section. The whole band knows the drum majors and the guard captain. THAT WAS ME GUYS. I wasn’t traditional popular, but more people knew me by name than I knew by name. I had power and respect but gosh darn it I didn’t even really care about that. I just loved guard. Oh my God, I loved it.

I got to the school at 5:45 AM for band practice. I practiced on my own during lunch. I usually stayed after school until at least 5 to have access to equipment and space to practice – and I still practiced at home after that. I was hard on myself. I made myself do push ups as often as I made my squad do them. And I was never happier than when I was dancing with a flag.

I dated a couple of guys outside of band and they did not like me. At first it was all “Oh you’re so graceful/talented/amazing” but it quickly turned in to “can we please talk about ANYTHING but band?” I was married to my craft – as married as you can be in high school anyway.

I had plans to march professionally after high school. You can only march until you’re 25 years old, but that seemed lifetimes away (holy crap you guys, I’m 24 as I write this. I’M ANCIENT intheworldofathletics). There was even talk of colorguard becoming an Olympic sport. But I don’t think anyone’s high school life plans actually pan out. One day, everything changes.

For me, it was illness. Chronic pain that had ever only previously peeked out to show its face during colorguard. The rogue instances of extreme pain and fainting were rooted in endometriosis. Now, it’s not like my doctor said “you’ll never dance again.” and it’s certainly not true that women with endo can’t be athletes. It’s just harder.

Maybe I just use endo as an excuse. Maybe I’m capable of a lot more than the life I currently lead physically-speaking. I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always been drawn to film. And of course, I got married during college which made me want to be at home more than I wanted to be out on the field. Maybe I’m just bitter that I grew up, and that life couldn’t stay the way it was. All I know now is that I’m tired. I’m so freaking tired. I hurt a lot. I miss being the girl in charge. I miss being the girl with muscles and enough energy to literally dance all day long.

Don’t get me wrong, I love myself. I love who I am now. I certainly don’t miss the mental instability I fell prey to in high school or the self-harm. I love the freedom of being an adult and getting to choose (at least on weekends) anything I want to do. I love how I look. I love my house, I love being married, and I love writing this blog (which I wouldn’t be doing without endo). I guess like anyone I just want the best of both worlds.

I have very few friends now. I still have the same number of really close friends (in fact none of those roles have even changed – all my high school best friends are still my close friends now) but I don’t have…well, an army of people to say hi to me everywhere I go. To smile and nod and affirm my awesomeness. Yeah I was kind of spoiled, but I miss that.

Then the other day, someone actually stopped me at a restaurant and said “You went to RHS right? You were the colorguard captain!” I didn’t recognize them, so they went on to say we had been in a summer school class together – and he wasn’t even in band. Gosh, that made me glow.

I dunno. It’s just kind of weird to not have any of the qualities people used to adore you for. Kind of sad. I am a huge fan of my ex-self, and I miss her. I’d love to start an adult guard – sell it like a zumba-type workout thing. But I’ve got a real job now at a desk and everything. And I hate that whenever I try to think of how I could make it happen, there’s a voice in my head that says

“You don’t do that any more.”

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About rachelmeeks

My name is Rachel Meeks. I have endometriosis, an incurable pain condition, IBS, a digestive illness, and PCOS, which causes irregular periods and infertility. After keeping my illnesses a secret, I started to get upset about how my fellow sick people were being mistreated because of ignorance. I knew that I'd need to stand up, make some noise, wear my heart on my sleeve, and admit that I am not well to make a difference.

21 responses to “The Girl I Was and the Girl I Am

  1. Reblogged this on sondasmcschatter and commented:
    QUOTE : “You don’t do that any more.”
    OH— MY GOSH——- THERE ARE A MILLION THINGS I DON’T DO ANY MORE— & MAYBE IT IS A DARNED GOOD THING COME TO THINK OF IT!!!!!!!!! THANKS FOR SHARING RACHEL!!! ALL I CAN SAY IS—- BUT YOU ARE LIVING HAPPY EVER AFTER IN YOUR NEW HOME WITH YOUR HUSBAND!!

  2. I think we can all identify with a thing or things that we have given up for one reason or another. I could so relate to your feelings of happiness and commitment around colorguard, my passion was dancing! I too have not found a way to continue – even if it’s not pain related we all have taken things our of our lives that maybe we shouldn’t have and maybe we all should figure out ways to recreate that passion.

    • Wonderfully stated. And happy to meet a fellow dance-lover! 🙂

      • Thanks Rachel – when I dance or do yoga or walk – anything that brings me joy, I always do it for those who can’t – holding them in my heart. Hoping that somehow they will feel the positive energy I try to hold for them. I will do that for YOU.

  3. I like the girl you are, but I wish your pain and discomfort would go away. And someday, I’ll bet it does!

    I grew up in a small community. Just like the Cheers TV song, “Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name…and they’re always glad you came…” Well, we don’t live there anymore, but I LOVE to go home for this reason! Always nice to be remembered fondly. Sounds like you are!

  4. Dangit you’re writing is so fantastic. I fell in love with this post. And i can totally relate to it. And the way you describe it makes me feel like I am watching a movie of it happen. Thank you for always being so honest and open. You are continuing to inspire me.

    Although I didn’t have anything near that awesome of a HS experience, that was sort of the me in my mid twenties. For several years, I KNEW people, lots of people. I was popular, people liked hanging out with me, liked having me around. For my 27th birthday i had a party with at least 30 or 40 people who showed… we started out at the Oktoberfest festival (conveniently always on my bday weekend) and we proceeded to get 27 groups of strangers to sing me happy birthday all around the festival. Beer swaying in the hands of all, arms around each other – even total strangers – all embracing me. It was pretty epic.

    For the next few years Drew and I were dating, and so I guess I had less need for all those casual friends anymore. He kind of replaced all of that with something more quality and far deeper.

    Now… people think i’m always busy and super popular, and i don’t know where they get this idea. I am alone most of the time. Almost no one ever calls me, except my sister and my best friend. But that’s actually become fine with me. I am way pickier about who I spend my time with now. I choose quality over quantity and am slowly learning to really love the woman I am now. But gosh I still miss the one I used to be an awful lot.

    Thank you a ton for this post! Love you!!!

    • Thank you so much for this comment, it really made me smile. I’m glad you enjoy my writing so much! You summed it up perfectly – quality over quantity is so important, as fun as quantity can be. 🙂 Love you!

  5. Oh by the way! This guy who has this blog that talks all about using wordpress to live happier and more creative lives contacted me last week. He’s writing an article and wanted to feature my site in it. Anywho, he asked if i knew of any others i’d recommend to him for said article, and I told him about yours and linked him here. Cuz you know, you are THE SHIT! So he may message you sometime… here’s his site:

    http://socreativedigital.com/blog/

  6. Molly

    I love this post; even though it ends on a kind of sad note, it really spoke to me. I have a similar story: I sometimes think about how big a part of my life music was in high school. I was in multiple choruses in and out of school, took voice lessons, played the flute and then the guitar, and was just constantly enjoying music. My dad was even convinced I was planning to go to music school (which I actually never was, though it was a nice fantasy). Most of my friends were in chorus or band.

    In college, I started off in chorus and quickly developed what I realized even then was probably an absurd form of self-protective self-consciousness—everyone seemed to be better than me at the kind of music we were doing, and I grew disenchanted and quit. I also didn’t feel comfortable singing or practicing the guitar in front of my roommates, with whom I didn’t particularly get along.

    Later, even when I lived with roommates I was friends with, I was just out of the habit and never got comfortable with it again. (I completely forget how to play the guitar, by the way, and still haven’t picked it up again. Too busy blogging about something I wouldn’t be blogging about if I didn’t have a disease of my own!)

    Now, I live with my sister and am again perfectly comfortable breaking into song whenever I like, so I’m starting to re-establish some of my love of music. I keep the guitar out to remind myself I need to make time for it! I don’t think I’ll ever be where I was in high school, because I’ve moved on; other pursuits have just become more important. But I do miss how central it used to be, and regret that I let it slip away—and for excuses far weaker than illness!

    Thanks for sharing your story (and sorry for getting carried away with sharing mine!).

    • That’s totally understandable. I’m that way with playing flute, except that I was never really good at it per-se. I grew up in a very musical family and felt I should be musical as well, but I just loved to dance so much more than I liked actually making music. According to my instructors I was quite good and could easily be a soloist and earn scholarships and whatever but I was just never really motivated.

      I guess that really has nothing to do with any of this, just felt like sharing lol. I still drag the old hunk of metal out every once in a while so I won’t forget it completely, but I don’t really know why.

      As far as singing, I’ve always loved it but again never felt good at it. I was never in choir at school and only sung in the chorus in musicals. I’m really only comfortable singing around my husband, and after much praise (that may not be entirely deserved) I’ve started really working on it, singing every day and pushing my range and seeing if I might get good. Who knows! Maybe if we both practice in the shower enough, we can write sickly music or something. 😛

  7. Cary ⋅

    Good to read you. Well written. Happy to hear you are pursuing your activities and values.

    Question: I have tremendous trouble getting word press posts to format as I have written them in other applications such as Evernote, Apple mail & notes. I cut and paste, all looks fine until I preview and or post, then the paragraph spacing randomizes. It is so frustrating. What do you do to retain the formatting that you originally typed?

    Best, Cary

    • I actually don’t have a great answer for that. I type in wordpress which I KNOW is not wise, I’ve had the interwebs crash and erase work before but so far the wordpress autosave feature has helped me not loose too much.

  8. simon

    Hi Rachel, Sarah Treaner directed me to your blog after I stumbled across hers last week. I’m writing an article about people who have become more creative and happier through using WordPress. Its for my own blog (which I’m re-building).

    I thought I’d say hello and see if you’d be interested in participating.

  9. I know what you mean! I wouldn’t be writing either, if not for my IBS, MCS, and related CFS and RAS. (Yeah, my life can be reduced to a bunch of initials! LOL) Sounds like you are doing a good job adapting, and thank you for sharing about your struggles!

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