Back when I was living at 60 Meadow street when my Aunt’s house was home to me and the ideas of adulthood were still pretty new, I remember resigning a few of my fears about school and agreed to take the steps towards getting my high school diploma. I have always been uncomfortable in classroom settings. I always felt intimidated by teachers. I never liked taking tests. Most of all, I never liked the anxiety I felt when taking tests, which is why I always steered away from the ideas of going back to school.
Plus, I never wanted to undergo the questions as to why I didn’t graduate. Consequently, I always lied on job applications and I never talked about high school, I certainly never talked about high school with strangers because, of course, I never went.
As a result, I recall the feeling of an empty void in me. I remember feeling as if I missed something, almost like stepping out from a movie in a movie theater for a really long time and missing important parts of the film, only to come back and feel like, “Hey, what did I miss?” and even if someone told me what I missed, it still wasn’t the same as if I was there to experience this myself.
I never went to a prom. I never went to a driver’s education class. I never had the basic teenage rites of passage that come with being a kid in high school. I never stood with my graduating class to toss my cap in the air at graduation day. I missed out. And because I missed out, I always felt this piece of me was obvious and transparent. Needless to say, I that I needed to guard this sense of shame from ever being revealed.
My first attempt at an equivalency diploma did not last. At the time, I worked long hours during the day at a job which I had no passion for. I was tired when I came home and wanted to do what normal people do after a tough day at the office. Of all things I wanted, the last thing I wanted to do was go to class. But it did.
I went to a school that offered night classes to help prepare adults for the G.E.D. (General Equivalency Diploma.)
I sat across from a teacher that I was uncomfortable with. I was uncomfortable with everything about this process. Plus, there were familiar faces in the classroom, which caused even more discomfort.
I never stopped to think (or care) if they as foolish as I did. It was true that yes, they were in the same class as me and for the same reasons, but still, I struggled to get away from my internal humiliation, which is why I went back to my old behavior and simply stopped going to class.
I justified my decision by saying, “Who needs it?” because in my small-minded thinking, I figured I was already on my way towards earning a living and probably earning more money than the teacher that taught the class. So again, why bother?
However, my Aunt Sondra encouraged me to try again. So reluctantly, I signed up again. This time, I went to a place with no familiar faces. I still struggled with my feelings. I still had the inner battles and stirs of being uncomfortable in classroom settings.
I did not like the teacher very much. She asked too many questions for my taste. These were personal ones too. She was a woman, hovering around the mark of middle-aged, and asking things she had no business asking because they came with answers she had no business knowing.
However, after a quick response with my best, “Mind your own business” approach, the teacher and I agreed that we would keep our topics to the lessons at hand, meaning school, and the teacher agreed to refrain from the personal inquiries about my reasons for leaving school.
I went to class because I agreed to and not because I wanted to. I went but I didn’t like it. I did the work I was told to do. I answered the questions but I was certain that I was going to fail. I went to class until my sessions were complete and it was time to take the necessary exams to finally get my high school diploma.
I was uncomfortable, palms all sweaty, and sitting nervously in one of those plastic chairs with a small tabletop desk attached to it. I was in the upstairs classroom with dark, outdated carpeting, and wood paneled walls.
I was given the test booklets for all the necessary subjects, each test with its own time limit, and then I went on to answer the questions to the best of my ability.
I hated this experience. I hated the teacher and her “Lean on me,” attitude. I hated the proctors in the room that helped the if someone in the classroom had a question or needed help filling out the necessary information on the test sheets.
I hated the subjects. I hated my poor ability to read. I hated my math skills. I hated that I felt intimidated, and more accurately, I hated that I was in my mid-twenties and still feeling like a bullied little kid in a classroom.
Above all, I hated that I took the test, only to learn the results would come in the mail.
Mind you, I am not a fan of today’s computerized technology; however, if the test was computerized, perhaps, I might have learned about my results on the spot. But this was before that time. This test was one that I would take in written form, penciling in my answers on a multiple choice sheet, which then had to be graded at another time and in another place.
At the end of the exam, I resigned to the fact that I probably failed. I resigned to the fact that I was stupid. I was uneducated. At best, all I would ever be able to do is hustle and grind. I would never be able to fit equally in society because in my mind and in my heart, I would always be less than everyone else.
As time progressed, the thought of my test was nearly forgotten. Eventually, I went back to my thing. I worked. I did what I could to earn money. I tried to find my place in different social circles. I still felt empty tough, as if something was missing.
Eventually, I completely forgot about the threat of the exam and the impending results that seemed to linger over my shoulder.
Suffice to say, eventually, I put this out of my head, I wrote this off as “Just another failure,” until I came home one night and Aunt Sondra mentioned there was mail for me on the kitchen table. She was right. There was a letter addressed to me from the department of education.
I must have looked at that envelope for a good half hour or so. I knew I had to open it but yet I couldn’t because I swore I knew what the results would be.
I swore I would open the letter and read something that began with the words, “Unfortunately,” or, “We regret to inform you,” or whatever it might have said, in my head, I believed the words would simply translate to, “Nice try, kid,” with a condescending laugh.
Aunt Sondra’s home was a ranch style house. Her living room was mainly white. There was a big fish tank by the window, which added the perfect sound to the room when the house was quiet. I liked this spot. There was a recliner next to the tank. This was a good place to sit when things were tough.
My Aunt’s house was a house of healing. She was a social worker, a clinician, and an important part of the county’s social services department. More importantly, she was my Aunt and a second mom to me.
Aunt Sondra knew I was afraid. She knew what I thought. She also knew what I was capable of. But not me—I had no idea what I could do because I believed the cognitive lie in my thinking.
I never thought I could pass anything, let alone, pass an equivalency exam that I halfheartedly studied for. Meanwhile, there were people in the classroom with me, studying hard, with English being a second language to them.
I could see how hard the other classmates worked for this. But in my moment of weak thinking and self-degrading mindset, they deserved to pass.
But not me.
No, I couldn’t pass things like this.
When I opened the envelope to retrieve the results, I took a deep breath. I readied myself for the bad news.
I passed . . .
I swear, I must have cried longer than ever before.
I sat in the recliner next to the fish tank in Aunt Sondra’s living room to absorb the healing energy around me. I knew as soon as I saw her; I knew what Aunt Sondra was going to say.
“See? I knew you could do it!”
I remember one of Aunt Sondra’s certificates was in hypnotherapy. She had me lay on the floor in her office at home. This place was a place of healing too. Her office was a warm, safe place. Her couches were comfortable. The mild lighting and the crème colored décor made it soothing, and of course, there were many people that healed in this room. I know this because I am one of them.
I remember lying flat on the floor with the off-white, shag carpeting beneath me. Aunt Sondra began the relaxation process. She did a past life regression with me, which I cannot say that I remember the words she said; however, I can say I remember feeling different after the session completed.
I felt relaxed. I felt as though there was something freed up inside my mind —almost like there was something caught in the spokes of a wheel that my thought machine, which still worked, but it spun with difficulty. However, when the hypnosis finished, I felt as though the wheels in my mind were able to turn freely without interruption.
I recently acquired a certification to be a consulting hypnotist. Aside from some of my other certificates in coaching and wellness, I always toy with the idea of going back to school to improve my education.
Unfortunately, time and money is not always as generous as I wish it could be. Someday though, I think I will have to figure a way to go back because like Aunt Sondra did for me, I want to help someone remove that “Thing,” that gets stuck in the wheels of their thought machine.
This way, same as Aunt Sondra did for me, I can help someone be free to realize their ability and live up to their best possible potential.