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The High School English Teacher Who Changed the Course of My Life

Never Stop Writing, Never Stop Writing, Never Stop Writing

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The Crossroads

When I was in a preparatory school (don’t hold it against me) I was a burgeoning people pleasing codependent. Playing dumb at home pleased my mother because she only wanted my brother to get an education. She furiously tore up my I.Q. score into little pieces when it arrived on a postcard from my school. When I asked why she did that before I saw the score, she said, “It’s higher than your brother’s and that just can’t be because he is a boy!” 

Dumbing down became a coping and defense mechanism but as with all mechanisms, no matter how well-oiled or maintained you keep them, they wear out and the lack of personal authenticity and integrity creates a war of attrition in the body, mind and spirit. It sure did in mine until an 11th grade (5th form) English teacher and published author gave us an assignment to turn in twenty poems in a week! She was much like a female Ernest Hemingway and I admired her irreverence and intelligence. I set out to write the daunting assignment by noticing what was externally around me in our tiny fishing village. I also wrote internal personal thoughts; some deep, some lofty, some shallow, but all from my true self. 

She handed everyone back their poetry booklets, but me and told me to see her after class. I couldn’t imagine what I had done wrong. When I sheepishly approached her desk, she said, “How dare you, you little sh—! How dare you write like this and act like an airhead! From now on, you be yourself!” She pointed her finger at me and continued, “Never stop writing, never stop writing, never stop writing!” As you can read, I never did. 

When I was in a preparatory school (don’t hold it against me) I was a burgeoning people pleasing codependent. Playing dumb at home pleased my mother because she only wanted my brother to get an education. She furiously tore up my I.Q. score into little pieces when it arrived on a postcard from my school. When I asked why she did that before I saw the score, she said, “It’s higher than your brother’s and that just can’t be because he is a boy!” 

Dumbing down became a coping and defense mechanism but as with all mechanisms, no matter how well-oiled or maintained you keep them, they wear out and the lack of personal authenticity and integrity creates a war of attrition in the body, mind and spirit. It sure did in mine until an 11th grade (5th form) English teacher and published author gave us an assignment to turn in twenty poems in a week! She was much like a female Ernest Hemingway and I admired her irreverence and intelligence. I set out to write the daunting assignment by noticing what was externally around me in our tiny fishing village. I also wrote internal personal thoughts; some deep, some lofty, some shallow, but all from my true self. 

She handed everyone back their poetry booklets, but me and told me to see her after class. I couldn’t imagine what I had done wrong. When I sheepishly approached her desk, she said, “How dare you, you little sh—! How dare you write like this and act like an airhead! From now on, you be yourself!” She pointed her finger at me and continued, “Never stop writing, never stop writing, never stop writing!” As you can read, I never did. 

When no one else believed in me and others called me flighty or artsy fartsy, she gave credence to my secret creative desires. I made a living for a long time after college as a songwriter in Nashville. I’m now writing ECourses on DailyOM.com with meditation music and have a codependency recovery book coming out next year published by HCI. I went back to school at age forty-five to become a mental health counselor to help people as Mrs. Millar helped me. She listened to my true “voice” on paper like I listen to help others listen to themselves and to assist in achieving their desires. From being in her class, I received validation and inspiration so elusive to me at home. Thank you Mrs. Barbara Millar! 

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