A little while ago I got an email from an old friend. We’ve been emailing and chatting on Facebook for a few months now. We’re rekindling a friendship. The email was about observations from 20 years back. It was about things I had forgotten. It was about a me I didn’t know anymore. It was exhilarating and wonderful and exciting.
The most wonderful thing about FB is that people keep coming back. They keep reminding me of lost times and a person I used to be. They remind me and they help me keep my past vivid and tangible. The best part of it all is that I get to incorporate these memories into the me I want to be. I remember that once I was strong and able and lively and lovely and I adopt that back into myself. Because I’ve learned that all I ever wanted is all that I ever was. It’s always been inside of me, waiting to be woken and stirred and mixd with all my more recent accomplishments, experiences and developments.
I love the remembering. After all these years I’m okay with remembering. I know, too, that I was foolish and silly and sad and lost and I was a teenager and it’s all good. I’m fine with it. That night, though, the remembering took a different turn. Not bad, just different. It’s a distinction that we don’t always pause to acknowledge and accept.
This friend, this good new old friend, remembered me in a way that I hadn’t remembered myself. And it was astonishing. I’m still not sure if it was good or bad. I was just jaw-open, hand-across-the-mouth astonished. Why do our brains do that? Why do other people remember us in ways that our own brains don’t?
This friend is someone I value and look up to, a person that has talent, and good perspective, isn’t too quick to judge and certainly not to condemn. This person is someone I’m happy to know and proud to call friend. At the end of this very touching email, where he revealed some knowledge of me, some remembrances of me that i’m not terribly happy to hear, I was in tears. This person saw me vulnerable and unhappy, sad and at a place that I’d rather have been invisible and at the end of his remembering all I felt was joy. I was unrestrained and happy and even free.
He saw me. Someone saw me. Back then he saw me and now, as we renew our friendship he sees me. I have been broken and I have been whole. And he has taught me that’s okay. That is an amazing gift to be given. I’m so indebted. It’s a level of friendship that I’ve rarely had in my life.
I grew up in a family with secrets. We were the original dysfunctional family. There were secrets on top of secrets, inter-woven with secrets. It was a complicated, confusing upbringing. And I know now that it was rooted in fear. For many years I believed that fear was about the outside world thinking we were bad. Specifically, my parents’ fear of people thinking that they were bad or less than. And there was some bad shit. But that wasn’t the fear. The fear was that people would find out we were broken. That we were human.
The terribly sad thing is my parents didn’t know what I know deep in my bones. My parents didn’t know that we’re all broken, we’re all struggling and our lives get ugly sometimes. I’m not sure that my parents know this now. So I grew up in a family of people who didn’t want to be seen. People that hoped the spot light would just keep searching the crowd and ignore us.
Temper that with the fact that my father wanted to be professionally acknowledged and loved his important career because there he didn’t feel broken, he felt big and powerful and important. It was one crazy childhood.
As I come closer to 40, a little over a month away now, I am aware of how much we all just want to beseen. And heard. We want that deep knowledge that something inside us has touched another. And we all find different amazing ways to do it.
I think that this may be why I teach yoga. It resonates within me, touches me, helps me feel connected and alive and I want to share that with others. Through yoga I have learned how to shovel through all the muck that my circumstances and experiences have heaped on me and unearth the Melissa deep down. Through years of struggling I know Me and through the work on the mat I know how to share myself. If on the mat, in front of all of you, I can be seen, understood, heard then that’s the bonus.
It can be a bonus because I have the gift of friends that see me. I have a new family that can openly acknowledge that we’re broken. I have people that read my words and share pain with me as i read theirs. I have long tender emails that tell me someone saw me.