Dr. Suess

"And will you succeed? Yes indeed! Yes indeed! Ninety Eight and Three Quarters guarenteed!"

Saturday, May 21, 2005

My Brain Functions Strangly

Pearls and Dreams

I was a good student. Not as good as I could have been, to be sure. But I had very good grades. Until, my senior year. I'd been in a Christian school in Colorado and moved her to Oklahoma. I went to my first public high school.

I grew up in a tiny town in California, population under 1000. I grew up in a town called Mariposa, right outside of Yosemite National Park. Then moved to Pueblo, Colorado. I thought Pueblo was HUGE big city. I know now, that it was very small. Then, moved here to Tulsa. VERY LARGE city indeed (ok, stop laughing everyone).

So, I'm a perfectionist. Everything must be just right. I'd would never step beyond anything I didn't have to do ...but I'd work myself to death to achieve perfection if I had to. I guess, with an eating disorder, I pretty much was working myself to death, in a way, trying to achieve perfection.

I left Colorado with a 3.9 GPA. I was not happy with my GPA. It wasn't good enough. So, I get to Jenks (yes, that really is the name) High school and I was VERY overwhelmed. My Junior year finished, and it was harder than I could have imagined, but I'd survived. I started my Senior year.

My humanities class ate my lunch. I got my first ever D. Nothing I did would help my grade. I was devastated. I begged, pleaded and argued with my mom until she pulled me out of the school and put me back into a Christian school (which, I wound up hating with a passion!!) so that I would not have to live with that D on my transcript!

However, I lived with that D ...forever ...on my heart. I always knew that I'd failed that class. I wasn't good enough. I couldn't succeed at it. I never got passed it. I always saw it as a MORAL failing because I got this D on my 1/4 of a humanities class my senior year. It was never because the teacher was hard. It was never because something in the system wasn't working right. I never investigated (never allowed my mom to ask questions why her 3.9 GPA student, in the gifted program suddenly couldn't pass the class). I thought about this class several times a year.

Every now and then, in a class at church, a question will come up along the lines of 'what is a failure that you wish you could change' or 'what is something that happened in your teen years that effected you your whole life' and ...that D is always the answer. I have friends at church that could tell you the story of my D as well as I could.

Yesterday, I went into my regular counseling session with my eating disorder therapist. We got talking about my son's grades (he's getting an A in spanish, which, I can't figure the math out ...87% average in class, 88% on the final ... um can we say TEACHER's PET?!?!? L informed me it's called bumping up for participation, cooperation, deserved grade etc) then she mentioned her own C's & D's in high school. Which ..quite frankly, surprised me.

my brain processed this information with:
Wait a minute ...you're a successful person with a master's degree ...how could you have had a C much less a D??? You have to have had better grades than me! I've done nothing!

So, she starts to tell me about one D in particular. Geometry. I tell her I only got on grade below a B, and it was a D in humanities. She started to laugh and say "oh yea, I got a D in humanities too!"

I never knew this ... she went to Jenks High school. She's 4 years younger than me. We had the SAME TEACHER!!!!! We talked about the problems that led us to both not be able to succeed. Same types of problems. Same difficulties.

L took it as "this teacher isn't teaching me right, she is expecting too much, and there is no way I can succeed" So, she did her best, told her mother that she would NOT get a good grade in it. Worked very hard at her other classes so her GPA would not be destroyed and has spent 18 years laughing about it.

I took it as "I'm a failure, there is something wrong with me or I'd be able to do this" For 22 years, it has remained one of my most humiliating experiences.

Same teacher, same class, same problems. My perfectionistic brain did not percieve it the right way.

Funny thing was about yesterday. I graduated 22 high school years ago yesterday. An odd time to be able to put it behind me.


  1. I'm glad that you have, regardless of timing.

    That is one thing I tell the kids I know wha struggle in school: Just get though it. Not once since I left school... in a job interview or whatever, has anyone asked me what grades I got. The fact that I made it through was what counts.

  2. Amazing the power that certain experinences or words have had over our lives isn't it? Glad you have been able to put this to rest now. Amazing your therapist has common experiences...how much help it is to share with those who understand!

    Each of my kids has taken their grades far more seriously than I did in school. Plus seem to have more brains to do so. I wonder though how much all the beatings I got during those first 9 years in school might have had with how well, or not, I did. School was somewhat of a refuge for me...but also a torment...other kids can be so mean, you know. It is interesting how God works things out...2 things I was so teased about in grade school are characteristics my husband loves about me...my red hair and freckles. Well, my used to be red hair...not much left of it now! HA!
    Thanks for sharing with your readers.

  3. Heh. I've finally stopped thinking of Stillwater as a big town, but I'm still afraid of getting lost whenever I go to OKC.

    I never was too worried about grades. By the time I got old enough for it to matter, I had decided that school was not to be taken seriously. Later on at the university I started taking the learning seriously—good grades were a happy side effect.

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