Freedom

At my reunion last night, I felt something I’d never felt before at these kinds of things. I felt relaxed.

You know that pressure you feel when you get around high school classmates? You want to look flawless, sound intelligent, appear (somewhat) successful. The charades we all create are meant to hide who we really are because somehow we don’t feel worthy. We don’t feel as though we’re enough.

Last night I realized all my secrets have been revealed. There is no longer a need to pretend. No longer a need to be anything other than who I am. It was very liberating.

In the last few years or so, I’ve become braver. A truth-teller rather than a “don’t rock the boat” kind of person. I’m more in touch with my emotions and feelings. And I’m way more inclined to assert my convictions or stand up for myself than I ever was in the past.

Is this because I’m 43 and I don’t give a shit what people think of me? Maybe. The point is, we all have baggage from high school or college or our twenties that – if we don’t deal with it-  will consume us. And make us try too hard to make others like us or approve of us.

Last night was loads of fun. I was finally able to relax and just enjoy. And you know what I call that? Freedom.

10 Things You Might Not Know

So my good friend Wendy posted nine things about herself today on Facebook. She encouraged her friends to “like” her post, and then she gave them a number and a challenge to write their own list of things people may not know about them. So here are my 10 things you might not know about me:

  1. From as young as I can remember until about the age of 8 or so, I had three imaginary friends. They were named Eeenie, Meenie and Brenda. Oh shut up.  (*Note, I did have a good bunch of real friends too!)
  2. I believe I’ve had a few encounters with angels. (*cue Twilight Zone music…) One time occurred when I was 19. I was in Florida and had borrowed a friend’s car. I was driving one night on a dark, single lane road when I ran out of gas. I sputtered to a stop not sure what I would do. No buildings, homes, cars or lights…just darkness. And of course no cell phones because this was 1990. I had taken a wrong turn and ended up on some road…I couldn’t see any sign of civilization for miles. Out of nowhere, a truck pulled up with three big guys inside. I was sure I was in trouble, but they couldn’t have been nicer.  They had a gas can in the flatbed (who has that?) and gave me just enough to get to the nearest gas station. Freaked. Me. Out.
  3. I always wanted to be an actress on General Hospital. Specifically, a nurse at the station next to Jessie Brewer and Amy Vining at the main desk.
  4. Back in 1979, I lost the “Little House in the Big Woods” book I had borrowed from the Melrose Public Library. Let’s see…the fine back then was a nickel per book, per day. Hold please while I get my calculator.
  5. I am superstitious. I don’t walk under ladders and I knock on wood to get rid of bad spirits. I have no hard feelings toward the number 13, however.
  6. I have an irrational fear of being eaten by a wild animal.
    OK fine, you probably already knew that about me.
  7. I was the first (and sadly, only) person in line at Strawberries on Route 1 in Saugus to buy Scott Baio’s albums. That’s right, he made two of them. They both sucked, but I had to have them.
  8. My uncle was in the Navy when I was young and he would send postcards from all around the world. I would stare at his postcards for hours dreaming of the places I would travel to when I grew up. I still have every one of the postcards he sent, as well as many more I’ve collected over the years. They are stored in a lovely postcard scrapbook I found at the France pavilion at Epcot many years ago.
  9. I question my parenting abilities every single day.
  10. 300px-Candlepin-bowling-usa-lanes-rsI was a killer bowler back in the day. Candlepin – not traditional ten-pin bowling. My favorite bowling alley when I was growing up was in Melrose and has since been torn down.

So those are my 10 things. Did I surprise you at all?

Thinking of a Friend

Today is the birthday of a good friend of mine. We’d been the best of friends for years. She was the one in high school that caught everyone’s eye. She was pretty and smart and funny and cultured and talented. She was a really good friend.

We lost touch nearly 20 years ago. In fact, she’s distanced herself from many people.

But, I’ve heard she’s happy and healthy. And for reasons that she’s chosen not to share, she’s keeping to herself. So I’ll respect that.

I miss her.

But I don’t want to end on a sad note, so here’s a song that used to make us laugh and giggle in the hallways in high school. We both liked Wham – although she preferred the less flamboyant Andrew to my wild and crazy George. Either way, the song always makes me think of her. So happy birthday, my friend!

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

If you were a Girl Scout, you’re probably singing the rest of that lyric.

“One is silver and the other gold…”

In a few days, we’ll be meeting up with some dear friends who live a state away. Our daughters were best friends from age 3 to just last year when they were both 8. It was then that our family moved away and my daughter had to say goodbye to her BFF, Sara. She was heartbroken, but in the year and a half since we’ve been gone, she has adjusted. She’s made new friends and is involved in so many activities it seems as though I’m driving in circles picking her up and dropping her off.

We’re all looking forward to this weekend, but tonight she was worried about something. She said she wasn’t sure Sara would be her “best friend” anymore. Would they still have anything in common? And she felt guilty because she’s made some new best friends here in New Jersey.

I understood what she was saying. I’ve moved quite a bit since I was 20. It’s hard to uproot and move to a different city or state. But as a blogger friend reminded me this week, “we can do hard things.”  So I talked with her and told her it was perfectly OK that she’s made new friends and had new experiences – in fact, it’s wonderful. It’s what she’s supposed to be doing. It’s what life is all about.

I have lots of “silver” friends that I’ve met in the cities where I’ve been lucky enough to live and work. And then I have my “gold” friends. They’re the friends who have laughed and cried with me. The friends who know all my secrets and my faults, but still like me anyway. The people who have always had my back.

I think my daughter used to think that Brownie/Girl Scout song was kind of corny (and it is), but she just realized this evening that Sara is one of her “gold” friends.

Humbled and Overwhelmed

Those are the two emotions I’m feeling right now. And if there’s one thing I’m still learning how to do, it’s to really feel my emotions.

Last week, I came out – in a manner of speaking – about the fact that I had a child at 18 and placed him in an open adoption. It’s now 25 years later and in all honesty I can say it has been the most loving, open and honest experience. But being pregnant during my senior year in high school, and then getting whisked off to the west coast to give birth and hopefully get things “back to normal” left emotional scars. I vigorously pursued my career and achieved nearly every goal I had set for myself, professionally. I dated infrequently mostly out of low self-esteem and quite frankly, in an age where casual sexual partners was the norm, out of fear of getting pregnant again. When I did eventually marry 14 years ago, my husband fully and completely accepted my birthson, his family, and the birthfather’s family as if it was completely normal.

I lived in denial for more than two decades. Oh sure, I knew the truth and my husband knew the truth. But no one outside of my immediate family and a select few close friends knew my secret. The residual stuff left over from years of hiding, of secrets, of shame and of guilt was completely overwhelming at times.

But today I’m feeling overwhelmed in a better way. Through a random encounter on Twitter (note: nothing in life is random), I became part of a TV documentary about motherhood and specifically about adoption. When I realized the promos had started airing on the Oxygen Network, I knew this was my chance to come clean. Now granted, Facebook is many things. But an open forum for an honest dialogue about major life experiences it is not. Still, I’m connected to most of the people in my life on this particular social network. And so, with a bit of trepidation, I posted the following:

I’m nervous and kind of excited to post this.
In 1988, I had a baby.
I wasn’t ready to be a parent, so I placed him in an open adoption.
Now, 25 years later, I can honestly say it’s been the most wonderful, loving and entirely open relationship since day one – and I attribute that to his parents, who have raised him to be an amazing young man! I was very humbled to be asked to participate in a documentary that will appear on the Oxygen Network on June 12 called “The Untold Stories of Motherhood.” Here’s a clip…

http://im-having-their-baby.oxygen.com/motherhood/

I hit send and bam – it was out there. At that point, I didn’t care what anyone thought. For the first time in 25 years, I DIDN’T CARE WHAT ANYONE THOUGHT. Perhaps that’s one of the good things about getting older. At 42 years old, I really don’t give a shit what people think. It took a long time for me to get to this point. The view is good from here.

Now that could very well be the end of this post. Except that it isn’t.

The response I received from friends in high school and my college years was overwhelming. Completely and utterly overwhelming. There was a time when my friends’ opinions really mattered to me, mostly from trying to fit in and be liked and be normal. But now, they mean something different. We all have life experiences that make us wiser and a bit more compassionate. I know I have and I like to think that my empathy for others is greater now than when I was younger. The comments I received from friends and acquaintances was like getting a big cyber-hug. And it felt really good.

There’s something to be said for being vulnerable, for finally letting go. And perhaps, for being brave.

And while I no longer need or seek anyone else’s approval,  it’s really humbling to know that friends and family have my back.