Friday is here, and I’m happy to say, I wish it weren’t.
It has literally been over a decade, since I last felt this way, and the time when I felt this way in the past was short-lived. That was partly because my job changed, and partly from immaturity, and partly from TBIs messing up my head and making me a million times more stressed than I should have been.
People used to tell me, “Relax!” But I thought they were crazy. Who could relax under such stressful conditions?
The stressful conditions were created in my biochemistry, as well as my neurology by things I could not detect – things that people told me were no big deal. But they were a big deal.
A very big deal.
Well, anyway, now I understand. And I can do something about it. I’m trying to pace myself, because I’ve been held back for so long by organizations that were actually behind the times, and now I have the chance to really stand out. Take the lead. That’s my job, and it’s good.
What a waste… all those years, people were telling me there was nothing wrong, and I believed them. I took them at their word, because I trusted them. As it turns out, they were just trying to make themselves feel better, because they were invested in me being a certain person in their lives. And if I stopped being the person they thought I was, then they might be wrong about the persons they thought they were.
Funny how that works…
Anyway, it’s Friday. And my old friend actually DID write back to me… They remember our parting in a very different way, I believe. Or the just did a better job of coming to terms with it. In any case, we’re back in touch, now, and there’s the chance for us to interact as adults, with the full benefit of 50 years of living to make sense of it all. And we are actually in similar lines of work, so we can compare notes.
It’s fascinating. They sound so much more mature in their emails than I feel – or hear myself being in my emails. There is something a little stunted about them, though. Like they are reading from an “adult script” that shows how they should talk and think and relate. Still, their own personality shows through. It might also be due to them speaking about 4 different languages (English is not their first), and their expressions come out differently. I know that when I lived in Europe, many years ago, my expressions were different from the norm.
Then again, it doesn’t take living in a foreign country for that to happen. Oh, heck, I usually feel like I’m living in another land, speaking another language, anyway…
A week or so ago, I got a message from someone I have not seen in nearly 30 years. The last time I saw them, we were like siblings – so close, almost like lovers (except that we were each romantically involved with others in our small circle of friends). We were each others’ protectors and confidantes, through all the relationship drama that happens when you’re 22 years old.
I haven’t had that kind of a friendship with anyone, since – even my spouse.
That was back when I was drinking myself silly, most days. I was also still struggling with the after-effects of at least 5 mild TBIs, during my high school years. Plus, I was a falling-down drunk, so I may have hit my head during one of my forays, too.
Long story short, we parted ways under very bad circumstances. I was an ass. And I split without an explanation. Just picked up and left and never responded to the letters they sent.
I was so lost, so confused, so messed-up and furious with the world. And when I started to get clearer and cleaned up my act, I tried looking for them online. But I found nothing, other than a single picture of them at a holiday party with an organization they worked for.
Then nothing. I searched again, but the picture was taken down. I can find pretty much anyone or anything online, so the fact that they were nowhere to be found made me think they were dead. It was crushing. I had wrecked things so badly with us, because of so much I had not figured out… and I believed I’d lost my chance to apologize and make amends.
Fast forward a few years. Doing a search, I found them again – just a single mention of their name at an organization where they worked, in the town where they had lived when I’d known them. No picture, no telephone, but I knew it was them. I toyed with the idea of getting back in touch, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it as well as I wanted.
Fast forward a few more years, and another search shows them at a different organization in their town. Again, no telephone number or email. Again, I couldn’t figure out what to do.
So, I gave up. And I downloaded one of the songs we used to sing along to, back in the day. I listened to it, now and then, while driving around.
Then I stopped. That was over. It was done. Let it go.
Fast forward again… to last month. All of a sudden, a message from them shows up. They reached out to me. They found me. And they wanted to make contact.
It was something I thought would never, ever happen. But there it was.There they were.
I wrote a note back, and then wrote another. They responded. Then I wrote an extended apology and explanation for why I disappeared. I left out the TBI stuff. Why blame that? I was just an ass, is all. And young.
I haven’t heard back from them. It was a very honest, heartfelt note, and I can imagine they have some catching up to do with their own perspective. We’d had one one of those epic friendships, like soldiers do. Or castaways on a desert island, building a raft together, to head for the open sea and look for more help.
It’s been an emotional bunch of days. I’ve gone through over 25 years worth of upheaval, since last week, but now things are calming down, and it feels good. Like I’ve finally put that one missing piece of the puzzle in place. I don’t know if they’ll ever get back to me again, but the fact is, I finally finallygot the chance to say, “I’m sorry. I did wrong.”
I was away this past weekend, visiting family and old friends from years gone by. It was quite a trip — 7 hours of driving on Friday night after work, all-day reunion activities with family and friends I knew from early school days, on Saturday, and then another 8 hours of driving and a visit to an old (once good) friend I have not seen for over 20 years.
I got home about midnight last night, and I’m pretty wiped out. But it was a good trip.
I held it together. And more. It actually turned out a lot better than I was expecting. It was challenging, but not only did I hold it together but I was also involved and engaged and I had a pretty good time.
The past few months have been extremely challenging with a lot of self-doubt rattlin’ ’round in my head, but going to visit family and friends was a good reminder that I am on the right track and even though I do have my issues, and I have been struggling with a lot, I’m still doing pretty well, all things considered.
There’s nothing like reconnecting with people whose lives are… well… complicated, to make me appreciate my own situation.
What a trip… I had more people asking me if I remembered such-and-such, than I’ve had in a long time. It was a little disheartening, at first, because there were things that they clearly remembered very well, but I had no recollection of them. A lot of those past years — elementary school, high school — are very sketchy and patchy for me. There are huge holes in what I can remember, possibly because I had a number of mild TBIs throughout my childhood, and also because I had a lot of environmental sensitivities, so if there was a lot of noise and commotion and activity going on around me, I was usually in self-protect mode. I was more focused on keeping myself from freaking out, than really experiencing and remembering what was going on around me.
I know I was involved in a lot of things when I was in high school, especially. I just can’t remember a lot that other people were reminiscing about.
Memory is a funny thing. People seem to think that’s what makes us who and what we are. Like, if you can’t remember things, you don’t have a personality or a way to relate to the world around you. My parents tend to treat me like a retard, when they ask me if I can remember such-and-such, and I can’t (that happens a lot). It doesn’t mean I’m developmentally delayed. It just means I can’t remember sh*t.
Oh, well. The thing is — and I now have a theory about this — the people who seem to remember most from the past, are the ones who seem least happy and most worn by time. It’s like all those memories make them who they are, the weight of them just pulls them down. All those memories seem to put miles on them — I think it’s also because they get “locked” into a certain recollection about what happened, and what it meant, and those things aren’t always good. So, they have all those old burdens of bad (or just unpleasant) memories that hold them down.
I, on the other hand, do not have that problem. Sometimes I can’t even remember where I am, which freaks some people out. But I’m always confident that if I just keep going, I will eventually remember what the deal is, where I am, and what I’m supposed to be doing. And I do. I just keep going, and it works for me.
Of course, it all gets more difficult if I am tired — which is fairly often — but I manage to get through somehow.
This all brings up an interesting question — do our memories make us who we are? Are the events of our lives the primary building blocks of our identities, or might there be something more? I know that because of my sensory issues, I have to stay pretty “present” in order to function – I need to track my light and noise sensitivities, and I have to work harder than some, in order to keep my attention on what’s in front of me. So things that are not right in front of me or not part of my immediate world don’t always have any meaning or reality for me — right here, right now… that’s what matters and affects me.
As for memories — mine are so “Swiss-cheesey” that if memories are the primary part of who and what we are, then there’s not much to me. At least, not reliably.
But that can’t possibly be, because I’m a complete person, able to live fully in this world, relate to others, relate to my world, do and contribute useful things… I’m a whole person, even with a fragmented memory.
So, the apparent assumption by my family and friends that memories are a big part of who you are and what you’re all about… well, that can’t be 100% true.
I do get that memories are important “social glue” that joins people in common understandings of the world. But at the same time, there’s plenty of other things that join us together. I ended up having dinner with a bunch of people I almost never interacted with when I was younger, and it was perfectly fine. It took a bit of work for us to find common ground we could talk about, but we found it, and that was that.
On the other hand, some of the folks I shared the most history with, didn’t actually have much to contribute to our present conversations. That was disappointing, because I was hoping that we could reconnect and still have good conversations. But they’ve moved on, as have I, and our lives are so very different now, there’s almost no point in keeping in touch. We will, of course, because people I have nothing in common with are a regular part of my life, but still… it’s something to think about.
All in all, I have to say the weekend was a pretty awesome success. It was exhausting and a little disappointing and painful at times, but the bottom line is, I didn’t wreck my car, I did everything I said I would, and although I got lost on the last leg of my journey and tacked another hour onto my drive time, it only happened once, so all in all it was a good time. And anyway, that extra hour gave me the chance to look at more great scenery, so it wasn’t all bad.
Now I’m back home, getting back to my routine, checking in with my spouse, and getting some rest. Work is annoying, and I haven’t heard back from the recruiters I’ve been talking to, and who knows when I’ll be able to line up another job. But for today, I’m healthy and happy — and that’s good enough for me.