River of Stones: Day 11:
When I was in college I liked being on the Quad with my sorority sisters. My biggest concerns were avoiding the freshman 15(lbs), maintaining my academic scholarship and catching the boys’ eyes. I never doubted my intelligence or that of the woman in my circle of friends. I knew we were all brilliant. Looking back….we were all quite stunning.
I think we still are.
Time has a way of slipping away fast. You look in the mirror and 25 years have passed. You step on the bullet train of “growing up” and lose some of those connections. It is not out of intentional dismantling. It is geography, career choices and in my case…transferring schools.
Transferring away from my original university was a sentinel event in my life. In retrospect, it is the eject button that leads DIRECTLY and undeniably to motherhood and my two sons. It is an event I would never and have never unwished. Transferring was not a decision made in thoughtful discernment. It was an EJECT. Impulsively made in response to the vacuum that was my family of origin. It was the canary in the coal mine, a test flight, a weather balloon….that took another 15 years to fall from the sky. You do what you have to do. And if you are wrong or have regrets, you make amends.
I cannot say I wish I had not transferred away from university and returned home because this life I have I LOVE. I do wish I had made a better effort to maintain a connection to all those women I felt so at ease and at home with. I had the grand, good fortune to find….with total and unexpected serendipity….a flock of swans with whom I finally absolutely “FIT”. They were from all over the country, different religions, most far wealthier, all absolutely brilliant and beautiful: a meteor shower of talent destined to rain down on the future with moxie, aplomb and grace.
I once framed things as if I was running from my childhood, from secrets and shame and basic unhappiness. I framed college as the place I got to rewrite myself, create a new story. The transfer home was a loss of faith in myself and my destiny, in a belief I got to make my own “self” into whom I felt I was meant to become. Now, as I again face a major transition, I realize that college was the beginning of an evolution into becoming ME, and the reason I was so unhappy in my early childhood was because I felt WEIRD. I didn’t fit. I was awkward and gangly and far too smart with absolutely no self control over my tongue. A high school friend once said my brutal honesty was part of my charm…if a baseball bat to the midsection can be classified as charming.
At college, I felt like I belonged for the very first time, a solution that finally dissolved me. Like dissolves like. But, it can take half a lifetime to recognize the pressures placed upon us to belong within our families of origins, it takes the realization that love is not always generous and acceptance comes at a price.And…it doesn’t always come from the place from which you were raised.
Those women, my big sister, my pledge sisters, my little sisters and my pledge class, whom I left in a terrible lurch when I snapped back home in the middle of junior year….those women allowed me something I could never have explained then because I never truly understood it. They let me be me. And they liked me. I just had to figure out how to let myself be ME. And I had to come to terms that people you think SHOULD give me that permission may be incapable.
A psychologist has had a field day with dissecting why I held onto relationships that amplified all that I doubted about myself. Why cultivate and pour energy into those relationships instead of the ones that affirmed me and within which I felt ease.
It is the conflict between what we are told (or believe) we deserve and what we are truly worth. And while I know I am brilliant and wicked fast in many ways. I also know I am a slow learning with regards to some thing, I have a blind spot. It is only within the last few years I can see myself clearly and trust what I see. The realization and acknowledgment that I am not bloody mad lies in those women from so many years ago who saw only ME, not my family, not my past. They had no real awareness of the baggage I lugged to college with me.
They saw me. They got me. And I fit. It has just taken me 20 years to fit in my own skin, to fit within myself.