One more step along the journey

Reprinted from one of my other blogs from November, 2009 with an update at the end.  The journey continues…

A good laugh is hard to come by.  So is fitting in.

Well, for me it always has.

If you could go back about 10 years, I was sitting in the Dos Hermanos bar at the bottom of the Sears Tower after work from the crime lab on a Friday evening.  I was 28 years old and while I had many social contacts, both personal and work affiliated, I had always struggled with a distinct missing component in my temperamental makeup.  I could not easily laugh or fit into a group.

As I sat there in the bar, I was surrounded by about 6 of my colleagues, all whose company I enjoyed immensely.   Julie was one I had known the longest, as we’d begun our training together 4 years before – 18 months of grueling lectures, lab practical exams, mock trial preparations, and supervised casework.   After training, she had transferred to a different lab than the one I was assigned to work at.   She had come in for some new training at my laboratory and as we were at the end of this training session, we decided to go out after work to celebrate the conclusion of our training.

As I sat there with Julie on my left, and Dan (my friend/mentor/father figure who worked with me in my lab) on my right, I listened to the jokes being cracked and the laughter generated by the camaraderie of my co-workers-turned-friends.   I distinctly felt separate from the jocularity and wondered what was wrong with me that laughter didn’t flow from me with the ease that it did my friends.   Well, actually, I knew that something within me was broken, but I just did not know how to fix it.

I’d been accused of being aloof and uptight a few times in my life.  But I insist that was not my doing.  Growing up in a home that rejected the very nature of who I am, caused me to distrust others with my vulnerabilities.  I accidentally closed off myself to people who had no reason to hurt me.

I didn’t want to be that way.  I sat there that night, staring at my margarita, feeling a weariness to my soul and feeling disconnected from the very people I cared about, simply because I could not join in.  My heart broke a little, and tears welled up in my eyes.

Julie – dear ebullient, wavy-blond-haired, blue-eyed, intelligent and wise-cracking Julie – noticed I was looking morose and said to me, “Casey are you crying?  You’re  supposed to be having fun”.   I don’t remember exactly what she said next (some smart-ass comment to be sure), but I think she hugged me (I’d like to think she did anyway) and I do remember breaking down in tears, then laughing so hard at the emotional wellspring that came out in me.  It was a very emotionally charged moment.  I was grateful to be surrounded by people who at least tried to comfort me, even if they could not understand it.

****

I think about how I am now.  I still tend to be a little reserved, but I do find it a bit easier to be spontaneous and laugh.  But when something reaches deep inside me and pulls out a belly laugh, I know it’s something I can’t take for granted.  That’s something special right there.  And many times, as I’m caught up in a paroxysm of giggles, I’ll start weeping.

I think that’s why it’s so hard right now to fight against the melancholy that threatens to swallow me up whole.

Five years ago, I had a full life.  I had friends.  Granted, most of them were my co-workers, but I LIKED my co-workers.  They happened to share a lot of work history and personal history with me.  They cared about what was going on in my life.  They seemed to love me, and I deeply loved them.  Maintaining the friendships are harder now that I no longer work with them, but I do get to see them at least once a year on Halloween (like I did last weekend).  And every year, the same promises are made – that we MUST get together more than one time a year.  I think this year I’m going to hold them to that.

Now, I see people in short windows of time.  5-10 minutes at most when I go get my kids from school.  I feel so damn pathetic that it’s not enough for me.   And I feel guilty that I need so much and my husband, who does a  good job when he’s at home, can’t give me what I need for the 9 hours he’s gone to work.

I’m a social introvert (paradoxical, I know).  I need people, even though I sometimes get too much and get exhausted by them.   I was reminded of how nice it was to be a part of something social when I went to a NaNoWriMo writing event at the local bookstore last night.  I almost didn’t go, afraid I wouldn’t fit in.  I even called my husband on the way over there and told him I had no idea why I was going.  I don’t know what I expected, but I thought I would be disappointed.

I was really, pleasantly surprised when I walked in to the coffee shop inside the bookstore.  I had a nice little chat with the young male coffee barista, who made my Raspberry Mocha Kiss, and had a nice smile and wished me luck trying to find the writer’s group.

I did find the group, and I sat with 3 other women, one younger than me and two older than me.   As we sat together, working on our novels, I was feeling quite happy to feel a natural ease with these women.   They shared writing tips with me,  suggested I stop trying so hard to be perfect,  and seemed interested in my story and I was interested in theirs.  I was also pleased to get some feedback from one who was an English teacher who fully believed I had what it took to be a writer.  It was really kind of nice to hear that vote of confidence.

When two of the girls left, I sat with the third one who asked me what I did besides take care of my girls and write.  I had to think about it a moment.  Sometimes I forget that’s not all I’ve done in the past 5 years.

I was able to talk with her about the year and a half I took trying to research and help my daughter with selective mutism.  I actually marveled at the comfort I felt talking to her about it.   Being shy herself in new situations, she could relate to my daughter’s discomfort in social settings.  It’s been a very long time since I had someone seem to care and seemed fully interested in what I had to say, and I could feel comfortable sharing our story with.  And as I was telling my story, I actually felt a little proud of what I had helped my daughter work through.  Sometimes I am amazed at the things I’ve accomplished.  And I am definitely amazed at my little girl and what she’s accomplished (and my other daughters for different reasons).

The conversation flowed smoothly all 3 hours we were there and it felt as if I’d been completely accepted as “one of them”.  I realized as I left that night that I knew what it was like to be in a place that felt like I belonged and I wasn’t an outsider looking in.

I had gone home very happy.  Feeling for the first time a community with others who actually shared my passion for writing.  It wasn’t strange or bizarre or a “waste of time”.  It was something they felt just as compelled to do.  And it was lovely to fit in so well.

****

Update 3.10.14

As I look back from this date in time, I’m feeling I’m growing more at peace with the journey I’ve been on.  I didn’t know then the kinds of trauma that was in store for me after that writing – but, being safely on the OTHER side of said trauma, and fully engaged in a recovery program, I’m growing in awareness of the resilience of the human spirit in general and mine in particular.

I’m not looking to ‘fit in’ to a particular group.  I’m not looking for a Guru or a ‘wise elder’.

I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teaching my blood  whispers to me. ~ Hermann Hesse

I’m looking to re-establish contact with the wonder child in me, who, at various ages, didn’t the get the emotional and physical safety, respect and nurturing she needed to develop into a self-confident, loving, capable adult with a deep connection to a God of my understanding.

I’m looking to reconnect to the child in me and help her finish incomplete developmental tasks and let her know she doesn’t have to ‘act out’ or ‘act in’ to get my attention.  She doesn’t have to sabotage my adult life.  I’m finally ready to listen to what she has to say and work with her instead of continuing to hurt her like some members of my family did.

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About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in adult child of alcoholics, adult survivors of abuse, Compassion, Complex-PTSD, consciousness, Freedom, Friendship, trauma recovery, True Self and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to One more step along the journey

  1. It is so nice and so comforting to meet you, dear Casey. My heart deeply resonates with everything I have read so far in this wonderful refuge of yours. I step in with respect and spiritual love to express my gratitude to you for sharing the troubles and the beauty of your life, and I would like to offer you a view into my healing path, which I believe has some things in common with yours. Plutonia and I are maintaining a bilingual blog and our top post is now in German, so my very first post http://solitarythinkers.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/because-we-cannot-stop-for-death/ and this one http://solitarythinkers.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/destroyer-of-likenesses-of-gods/ may interest you. Maybe we can empower each other a bit during our developmental journeys. Many blessings to you and your loved ones, Leon

  2. Casey says:

    Leon,

    Thank you so much for the warm response. I read your first post and was touched profoundly by your writing. Because you are a holistic linguist, a translator/’bridge-builder’, a poet, it warms me to make your acquaintance.

    One of the fragments that grabbed me in your first post was this “Let us face our life lessons with courage and gratitude and cherish each other with all our temporary imperfections…” Beautiful!
    I agree, wholeheartedly.

    And this:

    “What we are here for, is to honor each other and to help each other regain our freedom.”

    It’s a difficult thing, no doubt, to release the bonds placed upon us by our conditioning. I consider myself rebellious and finding social rules to be extremely confining and ridiculous. I remember saying something to my sister at a baby shower after our meal, and my sister-in-law (a doctor) harped at me, “that’s not socially appropriate”. I am known to be ‘hot-headed’ and itchy for debate, yet, I was really trying to stop ‘biting the hook’ of people that irritate and anger me, for my own mental and physical health. Apparently she didn’t know me that well. That kind of thing doesn’t fly by me very well. Because I was trying to turn over a new leaf, but unwilling to stew in my own difficult and painful feelings just to ‘fit in’ to the herd, I abruptly got up and left the shower, and, without making a scene (in the past I often didn’t care if I did, but I am maturing, I’d been getting tired of being seen as the crazy one. I can stand up for my belief in a freedom of expression in a quieter way, much better for my own health). I don’t play those social games and I don’t see the need to curb my expression just to not be seen as inappropriate.

    Your line and ideas reminded me of a poem:

    The bud
    stands for all things,
    even for those things that don’t flower,
    for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
    though sometimes it is necessary
    to reteach a thing its loveliness,
    to put a hand on its brow
    of the flower
    and retell it in words and in touch
    it is lovely
    until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
    as Saint Francis
    put his hand on the creased forehead
    of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
    blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
    began remembering all down her thick length,
    from the earthen snout all the way
    through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
    from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
    down through the great broken heart
    to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
    from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath
    them:
    the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

    ~ Galway Kinnell, St. Francis and the Sow

    We are constantly being barraged by messages that are designed to keep us chained. One of the things that helps us ease our is remembering our loveliness. Remembering that our Self, with all its imperfections is lovely and perfect just as it is and we need not be condemned for who we are or what we feel or say simply because someone in the dominant culture says we should be.

    We are always invited to challenge these condemning voices. They become imprinted in our minds and seek to destroy us from within.

    It’s a slow, slow process, a step forward, a few steps back, but I know I’m committed to subduing the voice of the the inner critic I’ve internalized. I’m not trying to change anyone else’s mind, but my own. In doing so, I do find a little bit more room to breathe and a little bit more freedom than I once had.

    Peace and blessings to you and your loved ones as well. I wish you and Plutonia the best that life has to offer.

    Casey

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