I’m someone who tries to pay attention. To people cues, to that small inner voice, to signs from the Universe. So when I couldn’t get my conversation with my sister out of my head, it got my attention. She and my brother had gotten into a snarky little phone hassle, which really had nothing to do with the issue at hand, and everything to do with the baggage they both carry from our…. how they say, formative years. What a loaded word that is. For some of us anyway.
Then I’ve had company for a long weekend, a blast from the past. Sandy is someone I ran the streets with in my twenties. Yeah, she knows where all the bodies are buried. Probably my oldest relationship outside of family. We were doing the girlfriend endless chat thing yesterday when she said to me, “You’re the only one who asks me these questions. “How do I feel about that? What impact did that have on you”?” And she wasn’t lookin’ all that thrilled when she said it. To be honest, she isn’t the first one who has said this to me, wondered why I’m inclined toward the deep end of the pool so often. But yesterday must have been the magic hour, because it really got me wondering too…
I’ve shared often here about my passion for people, my fascination for what makes them tick, my predilection for watching….and how sometimes that used to cause problems, for myself and those I watched. (Nothing freaky, just general yelling and a lot of ‘scram, get outta here’s). And while I no longer stare at people with my mouth hanging open in fascination, I am still quietly captivated by the inner workings of those around me. Probably because I understand how significant my own processes have been. Formative years indeed.
Without being all pitiful, I will simply say that there was a lot of sadness in my years with my family of origin. There was also much rage, desperation and occasional violence, but mostly there was sadness. And man, did I hate that! We lived on a dead end street (of course) and my bedroom window looked out to the corner, where a larger street intersected, a road that ran wonderfully AWAY. I’d spend hours at that window as a child, just staring toward that road, repeating the same mantra over and over: someday I will get out of here and I will be happy. Often stated while blowing smoke rings out the window. After the age of 12 anyway, when my mother’s smokes became fair game. My younger sister started at 8, LOL, so precocious we were.
That’s a sad image, a young girl hanging out of her window, smoking her way through her miserable youth, dreaming of a better future. But like the man said, those are the formative years, baby. And in repeating that mantra to myself, day after day, year after year, I was forming my escape plan, I was dreaming of better possibilities, and unknowingly, I was shaping my destiny, or the emotional landscape of my destiny anyway.
Because it’s true, I left that dead end street with a fire in my belly, a drive to pursue happiness that was like a heat-seeking missile. My sadness tank was filled to the brim, and I was eager to padlock that baby, throw it in an abandoned garage somewhere and chase down some joy. Ultimately, those early years of despair and confusion set the stage for the remaining years of my life, the life I chose and pursued and created out of my own longings…as we all do. I am now grateful for the youth that I had, because it shaped me into an optimist, if only in defiance of my old destiny. Come to find out, defiance is my saving grace, who knew?! That stubborn resistance has made me someone who refuses to stay in the pit, who believes deeply in joy. Difficulties, even tragedies, enter our lives that must be endured… processed. And process is the word of the day, thanks for playing, folks. My process is….yeah, this is hard…how can I get to the other side and come out happy? Or at least, not as sad. This has stood me in good stead in recent years, and yes, I am GRATEFUL. For the good and the bad.
But enough about me. I’m curious as ever about YOUR processes. That’s why I’m asking all these questions. What shapes you? What drives you? Or are you like my brother and sister, still letting the old signals rev up those less than positive transmitters? (Is that the correct science analogy? Highly dubious.) Do you think about the path you took in becoming you? Or if you had to identify your inner mantra, that thing you repeat to yourself or return to in a crisis, what would it be? Could you identify it? If not, what does move you forward? Or maybe it’s all random. You just drift through and let circumstances mold you daily… I did that for a while… before I identified what was quietly percolating beneath the whole time. It’s in there if you listen for it. And I’d love to hear about it, if anyone is willing to share? C’mon in, the water’s fine!