Sunday, January 2, 2011
Memories of My Past Alive Today
Back in August, there was a casual gathering of former schoolmates, at a tavern in my old hometown. A couple of dozen people, some of whom I have known since first grade attended, and it really was a nice event. There were little groups of 4-6 people talking and laughing, some trying to remember each other, telling stories and over-sharing memories, and events that shaped our lives. We talked about common memories, like the school lunches, field day, the 6th grade Cinderella play, and how economically divided our high school was. We talked about things that have happened in our lives since we last saw each other at graduation; college, traveling, the divorces, the serious health issues, the career changes, the kids. And here we are now in our grown-up lives, on even ground, peers, friends, where we were more acquaintances 30 years ago. Comrades, now, in our quest to make sense of our youth, and how it fits into our lives today.
At home, as I drifted off to sleep that night, I was flooded with memories of being a misfit, of being different, teased, and ignored. There were many memories of laughing and learning and having fun. I fell asleep and had a dream of being the me of today, a mom, on my daughter’s wedding day, and trying to make everyone happy, and get things set up, but I was still a high school student, and trying to take care of my school responsibilities as well, and consequently doing none of those things well. In waking, I realized that all of those fun and sometimes painful events of my past combine to make me the Woman that I am today. A woman that I love, and a woman who is learning and growing, and nurturing. I am now a woman who can look back at those times with a reasonably well-adjusted, perspective.
As a parent, I tried to use my painful memories as building blocks for my children; I tried to teach them to be compassionate toward those that were being picked on, and to defend them. I taught them to respectfully stand up for themselves if they were being picked on. I taught them the verbal skills and scripts necessary to put a bully in check. All of this despite my own low self-esteem, inferiority complex, and mild social anxiety disorder, because I refused to let my kids grow up learning to be afraid, from me (at least as best as I could manage!)! Of course, they will have their own issues, as we all do, from our childhoods, and parents! However, as I see it, my brother and I grew up relatively ok, despite the best efforts of our parents, and my kids have grown up relatively ok, despite my best efforts, and my future grand children will follow suit as well!
So, what did I come away with after this little, unofficial, school reunion? While I have an anguished kind of love for the girl that I once was, and have deep compassion for the hurtful things she experienced, I deeply love the Woman that I have become because of what she dealt with! Moreover, I love the Woman who I am continuing to become even more! How appropriate that the encouraging text message of the day said, “Free yourself by freeing your own emotions. Express your feelings”.
Now, if I can better learn how to free and express my feelings, then I will enter a new level of the freedom that I already have! A freedom that I use little of to be honest! Baby steps... baby steps!
Love you to as you continue your own path to