Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sharon Buchbinder and the Allure of High School Reunions

About two years after I published The Lake Placid Cure, I was invited to participate in the Class of ’85 Series by our fabulous Last Rose of Summer Wild Rose Press editor, Kathy Cottrell.  I said yes immediately. Not because I’d been to so many high school reunions, but because I’d been to so few.  If you read Bonded for Life or An Inn Decent Proposal, you’ll note that neither story takes place at the Class of ’85 Reunion events.  

 In An Inn Decent Proposal, the Inn where the festivities occur is seen the year before the event, a grande dame down on her luck, rescued by Genie King and Jim Rawlings.  In Bonded for Life, Lola Getz is running from kidnappers, to the safest place (she thinks) in the world. Little does Lola know when she arrives under cover of night that The Dweebster has grown up to become a hunky cop--and he has her in his cross hairs. Like Lola Getz, as soon as I graduated from high school, I ran away as fast as I could. 
Why did I run? No, it wasn’t because I’d become a contract killer, like Grosse Point Blank’s Martin Blank. You see, in high school I was a walking cliché: formerly fat, unpopular book worm from the wrong side of the tracks and a divorced mother.  With a graduating class of 200, there was no nerd herd to hide me. I had a few good friends who kept me sane, but unlike my sister, I was not going to win any beauty contests. I had a hard enough time just finding hand me down clothes that weren’t too small because I was taller than my sister. Did I mention I was a giant, scrawny 17 year old (5 foot 7 inches, 127 pounds), too? 
In spite of all the above, the hardest part of my life was my big secret. To the outside world my mother was perfect. She was a Girl Scout Troop leader, a Sunday school teacher and a hard-working single mother in a Donna Reed world. But at home, behind closed doors, she was Mommy Dearest. She told me never to reveal the abuse or else.
When I hit my 52nd birthday, after much soul searching, many hours of therapy and support groups ad infinitum, I decided to face my demons. First I paid a visit to my mother to whom I had not spoken in over 25 years. What I found in my wiser adulthood was a woman with a severe personality disorder who was incapable of giving any affection, much less being a good mother.  
The second thing I did was to attend my 35th high school reunion.  Unlike the comedian in the Quinnipiac College Reunion Video, I did not go to see who had gotten fat or who was single. I went to prove to myself that I had outgrown that awkward adolescent girl, that I had become someone better because of my trials and tribulations.
To my unending surprise, I was greeted with smiles, hugs and warm welcomes. Many of the women who had been in my mother’s Girl Scout troop and Sunday school  class approached me and said apologetically, “I hate to say this, but your mother--she wasn’t right.” “Your mother was---eccentric.” “Your mother scared me.” To each woman I replied, “Thank you. Thank you for telling me this. You have no idea what this means to me.” The “secret” wasn’t a secret.  I was freed from the chains of that lie, at last.
So go to your high school reunion. Find out what happened to the guy you had a crush on. Maybe he’s single--or maybe he’s transformed himself into someone new. You never know.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find yourself. 

PS: Three lucky readers will receive a copy of one of my Last Rose of Summer stories: The Lake Placid Cure   Bonded for Life and An Inn Decent Proposal. All you have to do is find out the name of the hero and heroine in The Lake Placid Cure, then go to my website at , go to the  Contact Me page and complete the online form. Send me your contact information and the names of the H/H in The Lake Placid Cure.

Tomorrow:  Sue Fineman


Kat said...

Hi, Sharon,
Beautiful, from the heart post. thanks for sharing. sounds rather twelve step-ish. heh heh.
I've said this before but I think you and I were twins, separated at birth, and I went to an equally violent woman with a personality disorder.
but, that's the past.
Doesn't make me want to go to my high school reunion--but i do so look forward to my annual nursing school reunions. Those are always so much fun and each year I learn something more about how I presented myself back then.
Long live the Class of '85!!
Kat Henry Doran

Sharon Buchbinder said...

Hi Kat--

Late to the party due to power outtage, but I made it. Yes, we were separated at birth. LOL!


Jannine Gallant said...

Wow, Sharon, reading your posts and your books, I see nothing but a strong, self-confident woman. You truly have faced your past and conquored it! Thanks for sharing.

Sharon Buchbinder said...

Hi Jannine--

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Viktor Frankl wrote Suffering minus Meaning = Despair. At some point in my young life, I had to have decided there was some hidden meaning to my experiences, so I did not fall into despair. And I am so glad I did! Reading saved my life--now I want to inspire others. I'll step off my soapbox now. LOL!


Mary Ricksen said...

I have to congratulate you for getting some kind of closure to your mothers abuse. I totally get it, she coulda been my fathers twin. Even the psychiatrists were fooled by his charm. They thought I was making things up. Facing ones demons can change your whole life and it seems to have brought you full cycle to a complete and talented adult! Despite your mother...

Sharon Buchbinder said...

Thanks, Mary.

As Kat has alluded, I was doing some 12-step work of my own (ACOA--my father died of cirrhosis of the liver). I wouldn't have had the courage to face her without doing that work first. If you read AN INN DECENT PROPOSAL, you'll see my love letter to support groups. LOL!


Jana Richards said...

Sharon, a very beautiful post. How wonderful that you've been able to face the demons of the past and become the accomplished person you are today. And I loved that both Genie and Jim went to their programs before getting together in "An Inn Decent Proposal". It truly read as a love letter to 12 step programs.


Sharon Buchbinder said...

Thanks, Jana!

Yes, I wouldn't be coherent and writing without my stepping! ;)