Gotta love facebook for re-connecting people. I started a search for friends that practice meditation and Jordan reached out to me. I haven't heard from her in years. When we last spoke, Im sure we both thought meditation was some Ooga Booga crazy person practice. She told me a bit about her practice and how it found her. When we met up in Pennsylvania to shoot some photos, she opened up to me about further about her life the last 10 years. It's a long conversation so I'll save my words and let the conversation speak below.
Scott: I’m truly grateful we were able to catch back up. With the unfortunate assistance of a wormhole, it's been 10 years since we graduated from high school. My main memories of you were in our senior year when you’d hang with our crew of guys. I know we always loved your company. You always seemed so happy and somehow weren’t weirded out by our dick jokes and teenage disorder. We all had our shit but in general we were a happy group of people I’d say. Do you often reflect on the person you were then? Was high school a happy experience for you?
Jordan: I always thought you and your crew were so cool because you seemed to circumvent the normal attitude of trying to impress people. You were entirely yourselves, and I was impressed by that. I tried to adopt that security for myself, but I think I was less successful. But I’ll talk about that more in a bit.
About your question - I think about the past a lot - too much, actually. Part of my problem is that I dwell on the past, and the person I used to be, which is so much more detrimental than just reflecting on it. When I think back on the person that I was I get an overwhelming sense of guilt and sadness. If I were to define my high school self (and even pre-high school), I would say that I was “together”. I received stellar grades in school, I excelled in sports, I surrounded myself with good people, and I practically never stepped out of line. My life revolved around creating the perfect resume for my future and I expected great things of myself. I tried very hard to live up to my parents’, and my own, expectations for me. I know most people detest high school, but honestly I loved it. In hindsight, I was naïve. But part of me misses that innocence. I went on to deal with some tough things in college, and I made a lot of choices that I very much so regret. I know I’m supposed to say that I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made because they taught me important lessons and formed me into the person I am today blah blah blah. But that would be a lie. I am learning to accept the past and the path I took, but I can’t say I’m happy about it. I have a very difficult time forgiving myself for straying so far from the person I once was, and for the mistakes that caused me to go astray. So yes, I think about the past frequently. But I try not to.
Scott: I get that. Like you, most of my challenges began right after high school.
Jordan: Definitely. Things around me started to unravel right as high school was ending, but I didn’t understand the full weight of these changes until midway through my freshman year of college. I was very lucky growing up and even in high school. I avoided so many of the common problems that kids face these days. I’m still undecided about whether this helped or hurt me.
Scott: What challenges are you currently facing? What has the last 10 years been like for you?
Jordan: The past several years have been very hectic for me. If someone would have told me this was what it would be like about 10 years ago, I never would have believed them. But if I've learned anything over this time, it has been that things rarely go the way that you plan, and you don't always get what you think you are entitled to or deserve. At the conclusion of high school, I guess that's a pretty good explanation of how I viewed life - I felt entitled.
Scott: Wow. Thats a rare thing for anyone to admit about themselves. I don’t think people admit that enough.
Jordan: I felt like I was a good person, who had done the right things so far and, as such, I expected life to go pretty well for me and in the positive direction that I thought I deserved. When this didn't happen, I had a very hard time coping with it. Things started to fall apart around me and it turned out that I didn't have the life, family, and friends that I thought I did. Some very negative things happened directly around me, but that is someone else's story to tell. I can tell you that it devastated me. I felt like I had been lied to the majority of my life, and felt very betrayed. I thought I was a much stronger person and that I could handle nearly anything sent my direction, but I fell off of the deep end during college. I made some poor decisions about how I should cope with things, and I ended up having problems with drinking. I drank because I was angry at the world for the most part, and I ruined a lot of relationships over my decisions. One in particular was extremely important to me and I destroyed it. This just caused me to drink more, and before I knew it I had landed myself into a pretty dark spiral. I'd like to say that I was able to dig myself out and regain control of my life, but it took several years before I managed that. In a lot of ways, I'm still managing it today.
Scott: Was it after that relationship that you realized you wanted help?
Jordan: I wish I could say that. Actually, losing that relationship caused me to really go off the deep end, so to speak. Things were really falling apart around me and instead of leaning on this person as a positive means of coping, I pushed him away until I destroyed it. I had very high hopes and expectations for this relationship and losing it wrecked me. This guy was extremely important to me and the best type of person. You had asked about reflecting on the past, and this is really the mistake I hone in on. Losing this relationship has been a defining event for me, and it took me years to come to terms with it. More than just acknowledging what it did to me, I had a lot of guilt about what my issues did to him. But I have heard that things are going well for him, and this makes me happy.
Scott: When and how did you start your healing process? Did it work the way you wanted it to?
Jordan: I still consider myself a mess. I sought help in a variety of ways and institutions and one of them lead me to the meditation instructor I told you about. I studied under him for several months, and practiced regularly. During this time, I formed relationships with positive people who really influenced my recovery and continue to remain my support system today. I still work with my doctor to combat my issues and ensure that I don't find myself back in that spiral. And today still remains a struggle. But I have learned some important things through this experience that I try to remind myself of daily - Things don't always go the way that you want them to but that doesn't have to spell the end of me. I can rely on myself more when I keep things in perspective and remember that asking for help doesn't make me weak. I still find serenity and a sense of calm and understanding when I sit and meditate, or just take time to stay in the moment (I have a serious problem of getting too far ahead of myself and then become overwhelmed/anxious/depressed). And most importantly, I learned or re-learned the value of other people
Scott: I just want to take a second to honor the strength, energy, and self-love it must of taken for you to keep moving. It isn’t easy to do.
Jordan: It probably would have been easier with a bit more self-love… I hated myself. I just try not, today.
Scott: Something you just said just really stood out to me. You say you had to re-learn the value of other people. Explain this.
Jordan: For a while I completely isolated myself due to embarrassment and/or fear of judgment. Today, I'm much less social than you probably remember me in high school and I have anxiety about going out or running into people, but it's getting better. I have managed to form a small, but strong group of friends that really look out for me and help remind me that everything will be ok, somehow.
Scott: So opening your struggles up to others was a good thing? I know it isn’t an easy thing to do.
Jordan: I still fear judgment so opening up isn’t easy. But I was told by people that have helped me that you have to give back. If I view it that way, I’m able to force myself to talk about things that I would rather pretend don’t exist. But you never know who needs to hear your story and if your experiences can help someone else. So I try to talk. And it does help me to get it out there.