After the feedback I received about the last post, I thought I'd share the rest of the story.
At eleven years old, dressing boyish was my defense mechanism, but it didn't change anything. It just killed my chance to fit in with even the moderately unpopular kids in school. I was like the solo fish in the tank who settled for blending, yet continued attracting the pecking sorts.
There's truth in the cliche that whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, even at eleven years old. I'd grown more athletic and developed an edge in sports that year, grew agile at basketball, handball, (yes, football,) stickball, and my favorite, softball.
I grew taproots of compassion for fellow odd balls, who dressed boyish, or girlish or who were rejected, withdrawn and sulky. They were my people (even if we were so damned awkward we couldn't hold a coherent conversation.)
On a high note, I'd submitted something I wrote to one of the school publications that year -- a corny poem about the world being beautiful, and it was published. Fortunately, Susan lost her copy of the book in one of her moves, because she never let me live it down.
After I told Mom, everything changed. I was transferred into another class where I became a normal, pain in the backside, as Dad would say, for my teachers. I'd busted out of my Converse sneakers and started to dress like a girl again, not Shirley Temple, not Mom, more like me.
The teacher still worked in the school. Somehow I never passed him again, and I wasn't awkward anymore even if I did. I knew it was his problem.
Somebody said recently that people who are sick from mental illness or who are stuck in the throes of addiction are human beings, children of God, and still deserving of respect. That rings true today.
The first person I needed to respect and forgive was myself, for utilizing un-cool defenses that alienated me from from my peers. For not telling my parents sooner that I was struggling. After that, I was able to forgive others. And I have. And because I can never leave well enough alone, I've progressed into actually congratulating that eleven year old for having the brains to cope as she did, even if it didn't do exactly what was planned. There was ample good that came out of the effort, enough to make it worth it.
Forgiveness can't always lead to reconciliation. Sometimes a relationship isn't feasible, isn't advisable. But forgiveness is the way to go, because it releases the stifling grip of resentment.