Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hello, Old Friend

One of my major problems has been that I seem to cling to negative emotions. There are stupid slights and embarrassing situations that happened to me as a child that no-one else would still remember, or hold against me if they did. Yet, excruciatingly detailed recollections of them will spring to my mind unbidden, and the rush of emotions that come with them will leave me stunned. It doesn't help that I had a rather odd childhood, with plenty of opportunities for bad feelings and embarrassment.

This is why, over the last couple years, I had decided it was alright that I had fallen out of touch with my closest childhood friend. Yes, we had taken different paths in a number of ways, and changed. She has become a great believer in and advocate of twelve-step programs and a mother of three, while I have a bohemian lifestyle of lesbian partnership, rejection of traditional work and religion and too many cats. But I came to feel that, as it seemed I would never be able to view my childhood calmly, from a distance, much less with affection, it was for the best that I detach from childhood friendships that remind me of it.

For a while, it seemed to work. I felt guilty about the ebbing of the friendship, but relieved to be able to blank out on memories that fed my angst. I tried to tell myself that this was a natural evolution and the way of the world.

But when I checked my voicemail and found a message from her while I was in the hospital, I was excited.

The truth is, I missed her. Not only was she my friend, but my stepsister. We shared a checkered and difficult past within our dysfunctional family, different in some ways but, in many, similar. And as many awful, disturbing memories and feelings we may share, we were also always there for each other from our single-digit years through our early twenties. Even though we have changed, we still know each other's cores better than perhaps anyone else, save our partners.

So, despite knowing it would dredge up old wounds, I called her back. We've been in contact many times over the last few weeks, and have shared some biographical writing we've both been working on. It has been difficult facing some issues, and I can't say it's been easy. I'm also not completely confident in the return of our relationship, yet. But I'm so glad to hear her voice on the phone, and I'm hoping that, together, we can put together the stories of our past and learn to be a little bit kinder to ourselves.


First Nations said...

that is BRAVE. I know exactly what you mean, the feelings and the memories, and there is NO WAY IN HELL that i would go back. I mean NO WAY.
but you know what i will do? (and this is sick) every now and then i do flyovers of the scenes of the crimes using google:earth. with the satellite ramped up as far as it will go.
yeesh. YOU ARE BRAVE!!!

Tater said...

Funny how are minds work isn't it? I do the exact same thing with my thoughts. The wholly embarassing ones just leap right up and leave me feeling red faced and shamed, in crisp detail, while pleasant memories sort of fade with time. Perhaps some of the unpleasantness from childhood has helped to push you towards your work with animals, which is a very positive thing in my book. You seem to be able to rise above the past, and still see a connection with your friend/stepsister, and that is not only brave, but healthy too. Hope you both get what you need, and smile on the rest! Nice post...

Doug said...

A few months ago, I got back in touch with a friend of mine. We hadn't spoken to one another since before our voices had changed. VERY strange, that side of things! He's come out since I knew him back in jr high, but he's still a Republican. Go figure.

m00nchild said...

i was going to type that you are one brave person to mend that bridge while trying to shorten its distance. but someone else already mentioned that your are BRAVE.

but i would add, that in making those choices and contemplating misgivings and doubts you are actually being the best kind of friend possible.

she is lucky -- even if she doesn't know it. but maybe she does.

Qenny said...

Oh, I'm just soooo late getting in to say you're brave!

Some friendships can survive the years, and very different life paths. It depends on where you both are now whether you'll be able to respect each others differences and current reality whilst still recognising and valuing your shared history and experience. Besides, there is something very comforting, I find, about being friends with someone who has known you for a long, long time.

BigAssBelle said...

this is nice to read. i am always encouraged when folks who seem to have shut the door on past relationships find a way to reconnect. i haven't. i am completely cut off from anyone who was in my life prior to . . . oh, maybe 1980. aside from family. it's kind of strange.

good for you. i'm impressed.