I’ve been talking to David more in the past few weeks than we have in the past few years. I like talking to him. He’s intelligent, funny, and we share a way of thinking. We know each other in a way I don’t know other people, or allow myself to be known. Somehow it’s always just been this way. Easy, and challenging. Our conversations make me think….and feel.
Today I was left with the question: How would I experience the world if I was the adult I would be had I never experienced childhood trauma?
I spent a lot of time locked in my room, trying to not hear the sound of my mother being pushed down the stairs by my father. A lot of time locked in my head, trying to ignore the yelling – or the silences, as these polar opposites were the hallmarks of my childhood. I didn’t experience a lot of the middle ground when I was a kid.
But then the thought occured to me that I’ve had a thousand times, and I know you have too: if I’d never experienced what I have, I wouldn’t be me. And while I have my rusty parts, my terrified parts, my cranky parts – on the whole I like me. So how to move forward?
It’s a fool’s game to try to change the past, to wish things away or into existence. We just can’t do it.
But you know, I think maybe, just maybe, we have the best of both worlds. We get to have learned from our pasts, but we also have the chance to build on that. Everything seems to be a pretty delicate balance, and for me, learning to stay somewhere in the middle has been hard.
I try to be graceful – my experience with a disordered father has allowed me a sensitivity to other people’s pain I might not have known otherwise. I have strong intuition and instincts because I needed them when I was a kid. I am grateful for these gifts….though of course I’ve had some unwanted gifts. A fear of my own creativity, of taking risks. A fear of standing up to people, lest I get punished in some inexplicable way.
We all have our hurting places. We all think we are the only one to have these secret doubts and black places, but that’s bullshit. We all have them. But I think we all have the potential to try to learn new ways of being, to try to be our deepest, most authentic self – yes, the person we would be if we were not scarred by our pasts. It is hard work. It is grueling, painful, and sometimes joyful.
I have gone through cycles of extreme growth, and lately I’ve been stuck in period of grey sameness. It’s been cold, muddy, mostly lonely. Perhaps this conversation, my watching a friend as he tries to force his way out of a concrete cocoon, will be my inspiration to start over.