Dear Annie: I am a 76-year-old woman who is still not over her teenage friendship troubles.
I should preface this entry by stating that I am by no means stuck in the past. This instance simply comes to mind whenever I face shortcomings in life.
I’ll now set the scene: It was early September of 1962. I had just turned 17, and I was a senior in an all-girls Catholic high school. I was a particularly gifted student with mostly As and the occasional B-plus in history or arithmetic. My parents had a strong sense of pride in my work and thus had very high standards for my test scores.
My literature class proved to be much harder than I had expected, and at the very first test of the year, I flunked. I mean, I totally bombed it. I didn’t want my parents to be upset with me, so I lied to them and said that I had gotten an A-minus.
My best friend at the time, “Lisa,” who was also in this particular class, had gotten a very high score and, to put it nicely, she was not quiet about it. Later on that same week, my parents invited Lisa over for supper. As expected, she was boasting about her score. My parents had mentioned that I had also done well, to which Lisa answered, “What are you talking about? She practically bombed that test.”
My parents found out the truth, and I was grounded until the end of the year. Not only that, I had lost trust in Lisa, although it was not her fault. I did not blame her.
About three months later was the big winter formal, where my school and the brother school down the road would gather for the dance. I, of course, was still grounded, but by a crazy turn of events, my angel of a mother decided to let me go. I hadn’t told anybody I was going — not even Lisa.
When I got to the dance, I was horrified. It was a blast up until I overheard Lisa telling my classmates that I was a liar and a troublemaker. I did not speak to Lisa again after that.
I graduated high school and became a secretary at the front desk of a local office and moved on with life, but every time I experienced hardship, this instance would replay in my mind.
I feel that I am being held back by teenage drama. I feel that I have long moved past Lisa, but the feeling of betrayal I feel will never leave. — Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!
Dear Pants on Fire: Despite what you say, it seems to me that a part of you is stuck in the past and continuing to harbor resentment toward Lisa. Sixty years, countless life experiences and surely many friendships later, this incident and Lisa’s betrayal still hold power over you today.
Instead of replaying it in your mind or trying to work through it on your own, seek professional counseling. The help of an experienced therapist could be just what you need to finally free yourself from this recurring nightmare and make peace with your past.
You connect this instance to your “shortcomings,” but do remember, a teenage fib to your parents and a failed test hardly define the person you grew up to become.
“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]