No Man Is an Island & Don Quixote’s Windmills
It was time to face the music my friends. I am struggling to remember how it all went down. I had to ask my mom. Even though it’s been a new day and I’m a new person no one could even recognize, it’s painful to have to ask and rehash it. If it was avoidable, I would avoid it. She reminded me, I trashed the locker rooms, stole money out of all the purses and covered the locker room with shaving cream, then we knocked all the lockers over.
I’m tempted to say that in the grand scheme of everything that happened, it seems like a really silly reason to get expelled and be sent to 18 months of reform school. Knowing what I know, it doesn’t matter what happened. It was bound to happen. I had made a habit of skipping school to go smoke and do drugs. I was begging for attention from any guy who gave me the time of day. My dad was gone. My dads sister took me up to Leavittsburgh Prison to see him sometimes. I would go through the metal detector and sit and talk to him in a glass room like you see on TV.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;Psalm 34:18-19 NIV
My mom withdrew me from the school before they could expel me. The let her know I couldn’t come back next year. I didn’t ever want to go back there. As far as I was concerned, every teacher and every student, the office people, the athletic people, the janitor, and the parents of the kids who were all so much better off than me, were my enemies and despised me. Hypocrites who had a genie God who made their lives touched and perfect. But I didn’t know about their lives and I didn’t want to. I was focused on myself and my own situation. Only my own.
I remember some of them trying to talk to me about how things were with my dad. When I told them and they felt sorry for me. It was a situation where I was just completely shut down. I went to a counselor and enjoyed pretending to say whatever they would respond to. Some of it was probably true. I did try to talk about things and how “I felt”. Except I felt nothing at all. I could not go back into the world and make even one change in my behavior based on telling someone else what I felt. That just did not translate as needing to change to me.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:28-30 NIV
I knew I was going to the program. Whatever. I went to work everyday with my aunt because I could not be unsupervised at the house. She was a lawyer at a law firm. I assembled divorce and dissolution packets in an empty meeting room. I liked going there. I went there with my cousin as a kid, when things were different and life was fun and carefree and made sense. It had the best name ever. Emershaw, Mushcat & Schneer. Say it out loud, twice. Now, imagine you are the girl at the desk who answers the phone and says that 100 times in a row.
Mr. Emershaw was a nice man and I liked him. One day he called me into his office and handed me a green piece of paper. It was a poem about Don Quixote. Poor Don was out of his mind and thought windmills were his enemies, giant dragons, and tried to attack by “tilting” at them. The poem ended with a resounding point that chasing after windmills was futile and exhausting. I never put this together then, but Don’s imaginary enemies were pretty similar to my own. I still have the green piece of paper.
I got a letter in the mail before I left from my other aunt, who was a nurse. I loved her. She traveled and brought me back things, and told me stories. Her letter was soaked in my tears. It said how much my grandma who had passed away loved me. It was an encouraging letter but it just made me sad. There is nothing but one day coming after the next, because I cannot do anything but bad things. It said how much my grandpa had sacrificed so that I could go to a Christian school and I remember how disappointed everyone was with me. At the end of her letter she said that I needed to let God and other people help me. She said I couldn’t keeping shutting myself off and isolating myself. She said I needed to let people help me and it could be better than this. Then, at the bottom, it said “No man is an island”. Boom. Mic drop. How true. Even though I wrote that letter on my heart, I refused to let anyone know anything I felt other than anger, which I shared freely.
Do You make imaginary enemies out of people trying to understand you or hold you accountable? Do you keep your hurts all to yourself, pushing your boat out farther in the ocean to try to escape? I do (way out in the ocean – pacifically, the Pacific).
There are many people who would love the opportunity to help you work through your struggles, carry your baggage, and listen to your hurts over coffee. If you will let them. They can’t help you when they don’t know that you need it. Acting like nothing is wrong isolates you.
I didn’t really engage in screaming matches with my aunt because she was firm and direct and no bull crap. I like that. When she said I was going to the camp, I knew she meant that. I went back home to mom’s wrote good-bye letters to my friends. I saw Kori and Natalie one last time. We got the packing list for the camp. It was very specific, with no frills. Bring lots of bug spray, several pairs of work clothes, work gloves, and work boots, a canteen and a mess kit. No razors, no mirrors, no make up. And now it’s time to go.
I remember, I had that nervous excitement, if only just to get away from everything and everyone there. The situation was like a dark cloud that followed me everyone I went. At the very least, this would get me away from all of these people who knew me and had to “deal” with me all the time. My parents drove me to New Horizons Academy in Marion, Indiana. It was a school in the middle of nowhere where a coach bus was taking all the kids to Canada. There was a lot of loading up and good-byes, some kids were crying. Others were yelling and fighting with their parents because they just figured out they were lied to. They were not going on a family vacation in fact (ouch), but most, like me, were sullen and stone faced and got on the bus without a word. We headed off, 16 plus hours to Missanabie Woods Academy, Onatario Canada.
If you’d like to get a better idea of where we’re heading, feel free to use google maps, satellite images and search for Core Shack Bay, Algoma, Rabbit Island, Algoma, or Missanabie, Ontario. I’m grateful you’re going back with me.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV