Here is my friend, Deb. We went to high school together in Oxfordshire, England in 1986. When I left England in May 1987 I didn't see her again until October 2013. That's 26 years later. Of course, we had a lot to catch up on after that 26-year gap. Thanks to Facebook, I noticed Deb's facial features and limited profile a few years ago.
When Deb visited two months ago, I had one of those surreal moments where on one hand I had to pinch myself to make sure this was happening and on the other hand I doubted we had been separated at all. As we began catching up on the past, I noticed something about BOTH of our conversations. We were strategically editing what we chose to tell each other about those absent 26 years.
From my silence, Deb perceived my adolescent years in England turned me into an over-brooding individual. From Deb's silence, I perceived a deep restlessness that found her in several difficult relationships (her last one being the most difficult of all).
"But HOW DID YOU SURVIVE the things you won't talk about?" That's what we both really wanted to know! 24-hours before we parted ways again, we pushed and prodded each other about the silence. Walking down crowded MUSIC ROW in Nashville, Tennessee and sipping warm drinks at FIDO's on 21st helped us to speak in glitches: she about relational stress & me about my bouts of depression. The glitches spoke louder than words: when times got difficult we found ourselves speaking from a deep, strong place.
People like us want to make other people happy... sometimes at any cost. Before we know it, we are no longer ourselves. We begin to see ourselves through the affirmations and insults of those we would do anything for. Our survival instinct simply won't kick in until it's a matter of life and death, and we are often down for the count LONG before others finally say "I think s/he's had enough of it."
Why? Because we finally got the message through that WE NO LONGER CARED about what others think about us. We no longer cared about being ostracized, isolated, or shunned for saying what we want to say. We finally spoke from that VERY DEEP and VERY STRONG PLACE that is the mysterious root of individual personality. We are simply "graduates from the class of WE MADE IT":
You are a survivor just like Deb and me.
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