I joined a book club, one that actually reads books and has discussions about the content, and of course we do throw in a glass of wine. In a way it feels as if I have re-joined life. This after having been in hibernation for what feels like an eternity, but realistically only since the end of 2015.
I will not bore you with the reasons why I went into hibernation, safe to say it involved a lot of heartbreak and the shut out of those who once were really close to my heart.
Back to the book club, I introduced myself as Callie and get asked if that is short for anything. My response - Carol, but that name is so stoic and rigid. Callie is more vibrant, flowy, and relaxed. In the background I hear: "You look like a Carol and I'm sure I know you from somewhere." Inwardly, I groan. I no longer want to be called Carol. That name belongs to a version of me who no longer exists. The latter part of the statement I have heard so often, in fact my entire life I have had people asking me: "Don't you have a brother called David, he has a sister who looks exactly like you?" Right through to: "His new girlfriend looks exactly like you; she is just the Afrikaans version." Exactly what you want to hear about your ex, he has moved on, but just with an upgraded version of you. Is it only me who assumes she is an upgraded version?
Distracted again, back to book club. We discuss the penalties of not finishing reading the book - fines. The question is raised: “So do we have to do like shots or something?” My immediate response: “This is not Hockey Club!”
“That’s where I know you from!”
“I never played hockey.”
“Do you know so and so?” (Actual names and places have been changed to protect the innocent.)
“Wait does she have a different name?” It turns out I do know the person in question, and we shared a great deal of my twenties and thirties. She is married now, hence the different name.
I dive into frozen ways when my past comes back to life.
I heard that in a song once and is the perfect description for how I feel right now.
Why did I want to pretend that I did not know her, why do I not want to know and remember the version of me who existed so long ago? Is she not part of the reason I am who I am today because she had the experiences she did and helped shaped the version of me who exists today?
It could also be because she is connected to him who once existed and who, I feel, almost destroyed me. I was madly, deeply crazily in love and did whatever it took to get him to feel the same way. He was abusive, violent and a drunk.
I spent many hours in the therapist’s chair because of him. My self-worth crashed to a brand-new level of low and I do not recall a large portion of my twenties because we spent so much of it drunk.
My mother said he was a good for nothing, but who listens to their mom at twenty whatever?
So, this completely random conversation and meeting of someone connected to someone who was connected to him brings my past back to life. One I felt I had dealt with already and was quite comfortable with it remaining dead and, in the past, never to be seen or spoken of again. Isn’t that how it is done?
Having read one of the required books for book club, however, I feel vastly different now than when it all first came up.
Perhaps I am healed enough and strong enough to bring the past back to life, to look at it with a new set of eyes full of forgiveness, compassion for both him and I. We were twenty whatever and certainly did not know then what we know now. Both with our own demons we were battling and both trying to find where we fit in the world.
Do I have room for him in my heart now? I believe I do, because he was just a messed-up kid who did not know how to deal with the hand he got dealt and found the only way he could manage any sort of existence was by numbing it out. At least that is how I understand it, he died about 11 years ago and my wish for him is that he is resting in piece.