The following came as a surprise to me. I really like my Special Education class. I have a fairly strong dislike of most of my classes, but this one is one of two that I actually like attending. I don't really know why. I don't know if it's the professor who is very dynamic. I don't know if it's the subject matter because I do identify with a lot of it. I don't know if it's the challenge of figuring people out which I'm usually very good at. Perhaps it's a combination. I truly don't know. I just like it. Most of the time anyway. Sometimes it throws me for a loop. Sometimes I'm forced to dodge an emotional land mine or two. Today was one of those days.
I don't think I've made it much of a secret that I was pretty messed up when I was in high school. To anyone who wasn't looking or to anyone who didn't want to see, you really couldn't tell, but I had some pretty serious problems and they were only getting worse. I found out this year that I probably would have had an IEP if anyone had known what was going on in my head. That's the thing with me. All the trouble and turmoil is in my head.
I had a friend who was equally, if not more messed up than me. We were dealing with very different issues in very different ways. Most of my problems I internalized and kept to myself until I couldn't and I blew up. I had two of those explosions at school. The first one scared me as much as it did those who witnessed it but unfortunately, the person who witnessed it is a moron and still hasn't forgiven me for that outburst. It happened six, nearly seven years ago. The second explosion involved me leaving class, pulling another student out of a different class, telling her off, breaking down in tears, returning to class and then going home. While a lot of my friend's issues were also internalized, she... indulged shall we say, in other ways of coping. We were very different. I've always been very focused and strong willed, I was often able to channel what I was feeling into something else, like writing. She had a tendency to be self-destructive. Still, on a basic level, we understood what the other was going through. The emotions were the same, the intensity was often similar. We could understand or at least relate to what I refer to as the "darker parts" of each other.
When I read case studies or research various exceptionalities, I stumble upon definitions that so resemble my past behaviour, her past behaviour. It bothers me. My professor is someone who is very dedicated to his students and he spends a significant amount of time each class explaining that it's our job as teachers to recognize symptoms and behaviour and look beyond them. I was fortunate enough to have a teacher come up to me and say "Lauren, I noticed you're not smiling or laughing as much anymore. Is everything alright?" The floodgates opened. She was a tremendous support and I thank God she noticed me because I really do believe I'd be somewhere very different right now if she hadn't said anything. As far as I know, my friend wasn't that fortunate and last I heard, I'm afraid she's somewhere I don't ever want to be.
I don't know why but it really hit me today. Like square in the face hit me. It really doesn't take much. It's just knowing that there's an adult that cares. I wonder where my friend would be if an adult had noticed her. I wonder how an adult noticed me and didn't notice her. I'm amazed and angry that no one noticed her.
Maybe that's why I like my Spec Ed class. It justifies and clarifies some of the things I've felt for years.