I was in a bad way when I left for college. That much is clear. I was knee deep in an emotionally, and at times physically, abusive relationship. It became clearer by the day that no one in my life really cared enough about me to help me get out of it. Like most things, the worst of it was ignored, or danced around like the great pink elephant in the room with a black eye and an eating disorder.
It was through a process of sheer denial that I think I even got through the first few weeks of my first semester. I had kept up illusions long enough at orientation to dupe people into thinking I was a normal, well-adjusted, if not eccentric young adult, with absolutely no real problems at all. That did not last long once school actually started.
If I were to catalog it day by day, it would read like a slow descent into hell. But for the sake of brevity and the desire to not rub too much salt in the wounds that are slowly healing, I put myself into increasingly self destructive situations that I am, to this day, still remarking how miraculous it was that I managed to survive.
I was not the kind of person you wanted to be friends with in those days. Although there were some people I was able to glomp on to, the majority of people in my life at that time were equally destructive (both to self and others), unlikable, and desperate. It made for some literal strange bedfellows. The shame of it has overcome me for more than a decade. The worst parts, I’m still not able to truly admit in front of other people or even to myself. It is in these moments I feel the true depth of the damage I did.
I envy people who can look back on their college days with moist-eyed nostalgia. I had some good moments, don’t get me wrong, but the overall experience was probably the darkest part of my life. Still, it’s listed on my linkedin page as part of my profile, so I get occasional updates and notifications about the activities, reunions or mentions in the news.
Recently a woman who I’ve never met began mentioning my alma mater in some press articles she was publishing about women’s colleges. She “friended” me and sent me the links, with a note about how my college was mentioned. I’m hoping that she wasn’t just sending them to me, since her messages were rather generic, and had nothing to do with my major or field of study, nor did it have anything with my current field of employment.
This stranger’s messages irritated me on a level I can’t quite understand. She doesn’t know me, nor could she understand how traumatic my time there truly was. But her persistence in messaging me about these articles rubs me the wrong way. How can I express this to someone who I don’t know? It’s still too raw for me, and honestly, it’s none of her business. I’ve decided to simply stop replying to her messages for now and try to work out the damage I did to myself in due time.