Old friends

Friends from childhood.  They remind you of parts of yourself you may have forgotten. 

I’ve been so certain I was shameful that I haven’t wanted to reconnect with anybody from my childhood.  I haven’t wanted them to see the mistakes I made, how I’m 55 and starting over.  I’ve been so certain they’d see me as pitiful, etc.

But more than that, I’ve been so certain that as a child I was shameful that I haven’t been able to acknowledge that I am that person.  It’s hard to explain.  I haven’t even been able to say or write the name I went by – Jenny.  When I saw it written for the first time I just closed my mind to it and made a joke about it, but the other day I realized it was so sore I could hardly bear it.  That’s when I knew.  It’s not my friends who’ve forgotten or rejected me.  It’s me.  I’ve closed the door on myself, not able to bear how worthless I was, not able to face my own shame.

Ow.  I have a pain in my heart. Really.  Physical jab.

Being embraced and accepted by my childhood friends is allowing me to remember things about myself without the shame.  That I was gutsy.  I never let my fear of everything stop me, I behaved as if I was fearless and went out into the world as an adventurer.  I fell down a million times, but I picked myself up every time.  I was misguided and ill-informed, but I sure as hell wasn’t a victim.  And I wasn’t pitiful or shameful.

Have I forgotten this?  Being back in South Africa and back under the influence of this culture and that of my family and ending up bankrupt, and becoming dependent on my mother has been such a strange time.  I’ve felt so helpless right at the core, and helpless to sustain myself materially.  Aware of my rank inability to fulfill the promise of my youth showed by my kind of blind and thoughtless fearless in the face of fear – if that makes any sense – my lust for life, my adventurousness and commitment to my dreams even though I was hopeless at making them come true.  It’s just been in my face so much.

Did I forget how to laugh?  Or did I just need to do a lot of crying and raging?  In the last 6 years – no, longer; in the last 20 years, I’ve been almost relentlessly aware of my unhappiness and frustration.  It must be what I needed, in order to be able to actually do something effective about it.   

Well, laughter is back in my life, or it’s in my life in a way it’s never been.  It’s like suddenly seeing when you’ve been blind all your life.  And along with that is a new kind of acceptance of who I was as a child, and new willingness to acknowledge all the parts of me, past and present, to see that I have nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s no reason for me to hide myself from the world.

The child that I was, the young girl, the young woman, who could launch out and be fearless in the face of her fear, she hasn’t disappeared.  Now that is a very very very very GOOD THING!!!!!   

As I’ve started to reconnect with old friends – women I’ve been afraid to meet again – I’ve begun to remember and accept that part of myself that I’ve been most ashamed of and who I’ve shown to nobody in the world. 

Old friends don’t scorn you or judge you, they embrace you.  They show you that you’re not alone and that you have nothing to be ashamed of, and in doing that they let you remember who you really are.  In accepting you they show you it’s okay to accept yourself. 

The lightness of being: for me it’s about my shame melting away.  

I don’t have to hide any more.


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