Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good advice

I am not going to give you advice but I'll share some that was given me last night, New Year's Eve.  It has nothing to do with resolutions, I don't make any, but it did stop me in my tracks and it just might turn me around.  Good advice will do that, of course.

We were gathered around the food, kindred spirits, us three, vastly different from one another yet sisters at heart sharing common stories, invisible bonds formed by similar circumstance and tales from long ago.  We three are the survivors, the phoenixes risen, the ones who picked up, moved on, away from trouble and now lead "normal" lives.  We laugh, nod in understanding with few words spoken about the past, little explanation is needed when you've been there.

The holidays were difficult again this year, as they always have been, only now the conflict is different, internal.  As I struggled with another year not knowing how to deal with the past so as to be in the present and move to the future I made no headway, just white-knuckled my way through, hung on for dear life and clenched my teeth until the holidays were over all while trying to put on the bestChristmasever! for my children.  It was a monumental feat.  Each year, each moment I look for the way to shed my history, to rid myself of the pain, the memories, the fear and repeatedly fail in my approach.

I thought about all of this last night as I listened to the stories. I learned new information, which fitted together the puzzle of past events that became clear. I garnered strength from these women, who held their ground, each living according to their beliefs, not compromising their safety, well-being or that of their families and I felt comforted, and in good company.  I posed the question, "But how do I rid myself of the memories?  How do I leave the past in the past and move on?  I can't seem to let it go."

And my dear friend turned to me and said, "Perhaps you don't.  Maybe you should pick it up, claim it.  It's part of who you are, it has given you strength, insightfulness, compassion, empathy and a beauty that otherwise may not have been."

Everything stopped at that moment.  I saw things in a new light, from a different perspective.  Perhaps all of this running and hiding I've been doing for as long as I can remember is pointless and wasted effort.  When this friend talks, I listen and I will tell you why.

Many years ago when we didn't really know each other, only each other's surfaces, we shared a similar moment.  It was Christmastime, one of my most difficult, the first out on my own, the tides had turned, I no longer saw my family of origin, I felt as if my life was over and just beginning all at the same time and as though I was torn in two.  I saw this friend at church, she walked straight to me and gave me a huge hug, a long, tight hug, the kind that means something deeper than hello and she said in my ear, "Something told me you really needed a hug."

Instantly tears rolled down my face.  She knew nothing of my past at the time, nothing of my story, or former life, only my wide smile that barely covered it all.

After seeing my tears she went on to say, "I had a dream about you last night.  I woke with a start and sat straight up in bed.  I knew immediately you needed my prayers and that the next time I saw you I was to give you a big hug and tell you so."

I cried more, I told her the holidays were hard but nothing else and I knew then that she was light to see, to follow, observe and hear.  So when she tells me to claim my past, to pick it up, to carry it and accept it as my own, as part of the rocks, stones and mortar that have made me me, I listen and I shall.


beth lehman said...

what a story... it left me with tears in my eyes. i have recently discovered brené brown. maybe you know her. i have been listening to her talks via itunes (she's been interviewed many times and been featured on TED). although i haven't experienced what you have in your family of origin, my dad probably did. she talks about shame and vulnerability and claiming your story as your own... sharing it with those who value you as a way of healing from the past. very interesting... just listening to it today, actually. http://howshereallydoesit.com/podcast/2011/09/brene-brown-2/

all the best to you as you begin this new year, amy.

amy said...

Thank you Beth, I can't wait to listen! I've heard so much about her that I recently started following her on twitter. Not that that means much because I don't half understand all twitter has to offer. Maybe I should pay closer attention :)

Maureen said...

Amy, Wow, just wow! Your friend is absolutely amazing and her words/advice ring so true. You too, are such a brave and incredible person. I'm so happy we're becoming friends.

p.s. FWIW, I was also going to recommend you read or listen to Dr. Brene Brown. I think her message will resonate deeply with you.

Clair said...

I am so proud of you and ever grateful to be your friend. What a journey a rich path of experience and perspective and tender empathy you bring to the world. So glad to be in your space.