Embracing the past

A few weeks ago I picked up some boxes of old possessions from my parent’s house in Beavercreek. I’d left them there the summer after I developed (then somehow recovered from) dystonia. The season when I took the bulk of my stuff to Canada to start a newish life. Only now am I realizing that that move north was an emigration from some major trauma, a chance to start new in a new place with a renewed, mostly operational body and a city to redefine myself in. What I had left behind were innumerable childhood and adolescent trinkets that marked my life through my early 20s. The military severance forms, the awkward love letter from two people who didn’t know love well enough to know we weren’t in love, the photos of a gel-haired, needle thin, calculator programming me, the grade school year books, the cessation of yearbooks in middle school, the sometimes desperately lonely letters from my mom. All those things packed away and turned from.

From that point I built my life into something else, or at least I thought I did/could. Consciously or not, I chose to downplay or ignore elements of my being that I didn’t like instead of identifying them as my own and as things to be embraced and accepted. Until now, 12 years later, when it feels like my life is on the brink of flying off the rails due to depressions and anxiety and a thousand other discomforts that stem from who I am. So, I’ve grabbed those old boxes back. It seems like part of the instability that I’ve felt has arisen from ignoring those things and hoping that they would simmer away which as we all know, nothing does of its own volition. Somehow I have to reconnect with those military discharge letter from the time that I swore myself into the Air Force and soon after begged to be released then threw up my hands until my dad found a way to make it happen. I’ve got to hold onto the angry and final entry my mother made into my baby book when I forgot her birthday when I was 13. I’ve got to recognize that the BASIC programming manual that I’d carried for 20 years means something about how I interact with technology. I need that those first love letters and that first love was heartfelt even though both hearts probably didn’t know what they were feeling. I’ve got to accept that the dystonia that wracked me arose from something that isn’t entirely gone and should form the basis for putting together as happy a life as possible. None of these elements is extraordinary. They are the elements of a life like most others. But, I have to claim them as fully mine and as integral to me even if I know better now.

I guess it boils down to a kind of shame that I have and that there is nothing to be ashamed of. That in this blogosphere/facebook/twitterberry world where everyone is trying to put their best face forward, all of the other faces are present and legitimate and just as worthy. That maybe the road to bulding my own self confidence now is to instill some confidence in the 18 year old person who was skipping high school classes and hoping the world would go away or ignore him if he just sat by the river long enough. It’s not revisionist history in the “telling it like you want it to be” way. It’s looking at my personal history in its nudity and seeing that there is some kind of beauty there.

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