Riding the Storm Out
It will never cease to astound me (ok, and I admit, sort of rankle me) when someone says, "I wish I was like you." I mean... huh! My first reaction is "Why?!" Not as in, "why would you want to be like me," but as in, "why wouldn't you want to be like you?" I cherish the uniqueness I see in others, the ineffable singularity that makes them the Who that they are.
Even so, I can understand the discomfort that comes with being in one's own skin. If you haven't accepted who you are, it can be really itchy and even painful. I suppose from that comes wanting to be in someone else's skin, thinking that it probably feels quite cozy. I should know. I do know. But, someone else's skin isn't nearly as cozy as you'd like it to be, or think it to be.
The thing is, I never in all "those" times wanted to be like anyone else. I just wanted to be okay with being me. I wanted someone to say, "Hey, y'know... whatever it is in you that you feel, it's alright." Mostly I wanted to hear that from myself. More than anything I wanted to hear that from myself. But, like the song says, "Forgiveness draws its first breath with hesitation."**
I've come a long way. A really long way. Looking back is like looking through a telescope. I can see the girl, I swear I could almost touch her, but she really is miles and miles away. What I carry is the memories we share. I know... I know that sounds a tad psychotic, but really, it's pretty damned healthy all things considered. Think about it this way. You can't be a champion swimmer if you're still the kid that was too scared to jump off the diving board. You can't become a gypsy if you're still the kid that's afraid to step off the front porch. Get what I'm saying?
You have to leave that part of you behind. I had to leave that part of me behind. I simply refer to that part of me as The Girl. The sad, scared little girl who one day discovered she was grown up and tried to cope with it all using the same mentality she'd had for over 40 years. Now that, friends n' neighbors, is psychotic! So when someone says, "I wish I was like you." I have to shake my head and say, "No. Trust me. You don't." Because, feisty gypsy that I've become, everything I am now is (still) tied irrevocably to The Girl. And her memories, her take on the world, are No Fun.
I told you all that to tell you this. I had an amazing dream the other night.
In my dream I was The Girl. I was The Girl at about fourteen years old. I was walking through a snowy field. It was dark with just twinkling stars for light. I was wearing a flannel gown and only had slippers on my feet, but I was only barely shivering, and I really didn't notice it. I was in love with the way the world looked just then, so sparkling and clean. I began to weep. I thought, "This is crazy! This is... I'm a fucking freak to be out here like this! No one else in the world is out here. No one else. No one sees this. Just me. Why do I have to be so damned different?!" My vision wavered through my tears. I felt the stars creep a little closer, as if a ceiling had just lowered. I wiped at my eyes with the sleeve of my gown. I looked about me and written in light on the snow was a single question, "Why do you think you should have to be like others?" It hit me with enough force to knock me down in the snow. I began to cry again, but this time with relief. I saw the steam of my tears rising from my cheeks. I thought, "This is enough. More than enough. This is quite good."
*Antigone Rising, Open Hearts and Doors