I received so much going to the reunion. For days afterwards I was overcome by the welcome I received by all, but one man in particular moved me. I was given so much by him. As I process, more will come.
I reconnected with a classmate. That evening while I sat on tenterhooks looking for a conversation, he moved through the room. I marveled at the ease he went from person to person. He seemed to engage everyone with his warmth and wisdom. Though I recalled him as friendly I thought of him as quiet and inward.
Since, we’ve shared more about ourselves in messages. He told part of his story. He has accomplished so much growth and seems to have stepped fully into his life.
In one exchange he wrote: My recollection of you was your specialness in school. You hung out in the art room, had lots of friends. I really admired you…
That is not the kid I’ve described here on this blog. I’ve forgotten him. I was a boy, a different boy. I stood out. I was smart, talented, kind and likable. In my arena I had confidence. This is not the person who went out into the world. Why did it crumble into fear and doubt?
I was aware of my specialness. But it didn’t make sense. Whatever this thing was couldn’t be counted on. It was a mirage hovering over the true me. The slightest breeze could blow it off and reveal the piece of shit I knew I was.
My teenage years were a long steady decline. The conflict between my two selves was no longer a fair fight. The self loathing hammered me down everyday. Retreats to the art room or backstage no longer were enough to replenish me. I couldn’t live without being completely absorbed in a project. I needed the extreme pressure of constant deadlines to cancel the noise. Without it, I fell. With each fall I lost ground.
A seed stayed alive in me. I am lucky that the artist never stopped making. While creating, I’m neither boy. I am more of a vessel for something else. In this bliss I’ve been able to build a reserve. It’s not the keystone of my growth, but a place to recharge. It’s the thing that has strung me along, day to day. In that long line I’ve worked on me and gained fresh territory.
I must be prepared to always fight this battle. I can not allow self loathing to be the voice that guides me. It doesn’t go away, it lays seemingly dormant. But it’s always feeling for an in. It will slip into any crack, explosively expand to life and force the sliver into a gorge.
My binary friend held up a strange glass. In a sense it was mirrored, but didn’t show a single image. Rather what I saw was scattered and shattered. It wasn’t broken, only complexly faceted portraits of both of us. It refracted also. I saw a more complete version of us in our time. These bits and pieces describing a whole.