Did I really say that?

I rattled off that last post really quickly and now have had the whole afternoon and evening to mull over what I wrote.  And I keep thinking, “Did I actually say that the best memory of my childhood was watching TV and eating Chef Boyardee?!”  I mean, I am a child of the 80s, but honestly!

I did spend a lot of time on that couch in the living room growing up, and on the couch in the family room too, right in the soft corner of it.  It’s where I’d fall asleep on Saturday evenings and then wake up for Saturday Night Live and then fall back asleep again because it was too late and I didn’t get half the jokes anyway, but in the back of my dreams I could hear people laughing over the Sweeney Sisters or the Church Lady.

I don’t know what my actual best memory of being a kid would be, since saying that other one makes me a bit embarrassed.  Maybe laying there watching tv is my best memory not because I was laying there watching tv, but because I thought I had enough time in my life to lay there and watch tv.  I was in no hurry.  I was carefree.  Maybe that’s it!

And is it normal to not remember a lot of your childhood?  I remember snippets.  And some occasions I remember very clearly, but a lot of my childhood I don’t have a clue about.  By all accounts I had a great childhood.  I had super loving and extremely supportive parents.  There was never any financial stress in our family.  We had a lot of nice things and could pursue any interests that we had, but we also learned to work hard for things (I paid for half of my first drum set when I was 14 — the old 1970s silver Tamas).  None of us were perfect and my childhood did not go “incident-free”, but, by all accounts, I was very blessed growing up.

Still, life has a way of weaving things together, into things we don’t understand, into things we need to unpack later on.  And I was a very perceptive and sensitive child, so it’s taken me a lot of years to unpack some of the things of my childhood.  I think it’s important to do this.  Whether or not our childhood was harsh or easy, there are always things we need to come to terms with.  Our little brains pick up on things growing up — things we don’t understand — and we need to look back at those memories and try to figure out what we were really experiencing.

In fact, we owe it to ourselves, because I think a lot of our fears and our insecurities and our tensions come from how we grew up.  And often we don’t realize it because it is simply our way of acting; it seems normal. And it’s not always anything big.  But sometimes it is something big.  Sometimes things you thought were big deals weren’t.  And sometimes you find out that little things were or have turned into big things.  And we cannot continue to be bound by the things that took hold of us when we were children.  Time does not heal all things.  Time sometimes simmers things up until the moment when they can become a big boiling mess.  And sometimes it’s complicated.

Now, I’m not going to presume to know how to make sense of people’s childhoods.  Hell, I can barely make sense of my Chef-Boyardee-eating childhood!  But sometimes we need to go back and see things the way we experienced them when we were kids; go back and revisit some of those memories.  And some of it is scary and not nice.  But, it will never be nice.  And until we go back to those things there will never be resolution and we will always have a sort of haunted feeling.  And some things cannot be resolved.  But I think that even just the recognition that we were deeply hurt will help.

Anyway… I feel like I’m getting into territories that I have zero knowledge about.  I’m no counselor.  But I have been doing a lot of “facing myself” these past several months.  And let me tell you that it is a scary thing.  It is a scary thing to admit your faults and your insecurities and how you’ve hurt people and how you continue to hurt people.  And it’s scary to admit that you’ve been hurt by others.  I hate that it’s so hard to face these things.

Lately Madeline has been coming to me and “confessing” little bits of her own misbehaviour to me — things I never would’ve known about, things that maybe are not actually a big deal, but they’re a big deal to her.  And seeing your child come into an awareness of her own limitations and mistakes, is a very eye-opening experience.  It makes you realize that we really should not be afraid to admit our failings.

It took Madeline well over a month to fess up to one particular thing, and she was so nervous when she was talking to me that I asked her if her heart was racing and if she felt all jittery inside.  She said, “yes” and then sighed in relief a bit.  But to me, there was no reason for her to be nervous.  She can tell me anything.  And that’s how we should be with each other. Unafraid.  Because we are all making mistakes.  And when we try to live in denial of this it only breeds fear — we’re afraid to be ourselves and others will be afraid to “be themselves” around us.

When we see the humanity in ourselves, in others, and in our pasts, then we have found our starting place.  And the nice thing about our limited and messed up nature is that, somehow, it has the ability to receive grace.  And that grace can work retroactively, to take us back to those moments from our past that we’re embarrassed of and to heal us of the hurt and confusion and let us start again.  (It also gives us courage to face our futures and our shortcomings there.)  I imagine we’re never quite done unpacking all of the bits of history that have made us who we are, but I’m glad for the moments of grace I’ve been given.

Posted in Life & Faith, Memories | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Did I really say that?

  1. Carissa says:

    I, too, have a very limited memory of my childhood, and it bothers me, b/c I know I had a wonderful childhood too! And some of the things I remember are the dumbest things! My youngest sister remembers EVERYTHING, to the point where the rest of us wonder if things she remembers actually happened! Ha! And I want my kids to be able to tell me anything too…and I worry that they’re scared of how I’ll react sometimes so they don’t tell me things. So sweet of Madeline to come to you with those things, and how much it must take off her shoulders to tell you!! Aww! 🙂

  2. Ang says:

    I remember a lot of things about my childhood but I think that is because I had a lot of things happen to landmark certain times (most of them not good but those times seem to have made the rest of that time span more vivid). But I don’t think your Chef Boyardee/watching tv comment was a silly comment. I think a lot of our favorite memories have to do with how we felt at that time and not actually what we were doing.

    One of my favorite memories is sitting on a rock on the big hill at our farm with my dad, my grandpa and my grandma…watching them drink their coffee from clear mugs (I can even remember the creamy color of the coffee due to the cream)… Or tipping and tailing beans on my grandma’s front step in the warmth of the sun…or pulling a jug of koolaid out of the dugout so that we could have a cool drink while we were working in the garden…none of these are really outstanding things but I think it was the feeling of peace, security and love I brought from those moments to now…

    I think people’s favorite moments are going to be those “goofy” (for lack of a better word right now) moments that they had that now (since we are adults) seem silly to say out loud.

  3. Bonnie says:

    As per our visit the other day…Owen will remember the day his Mother lost her mind. So please don’t feel bad since so far this is his fondest memory of me.

  4. Collette says:

    But I have been doing a lot of “facing myself” these past several months. And let me tell you that it is a scary thing. It is a scary thing to admit your faults and your insecurities and how you’ve hurt people and how you continue to hurt people. And it’s scary to admit that you’ve been hurt by others. I hate that it’s so hard to face these things.

    yup, me too. I’ve been doing it for over two years now, and I’m not done yet. and I’m very, very frustrated. I’m so tired. I just want to be okay again, and happy, and able to love others and accept them and myself as we are, not as we were or as we might be in the future. I have an appointment with my therapist on Monday and my specific question will be “how do I be happy with right now? because I’ve always been discontent. I’ve always said to myself that I’ll be happier when X happens.” a friend of mine said to me the other day that it seems like I’m waiting for something. I agree! and it’s making me crazy.

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