(written on April 16, 2015 ~ reposted November 6, 2021)
I was left mic-dropped and epiphany-struck the other day from the subtle and sophisticated words of wisdom spoken from my 4-year old son. A “how was your day?” was all it took for his sweet and simple notion of the world to take flight and shoot straight into my heart…
“Good, Mommy. Dad had his really and wild friends over.”
Knowing that my husband had hosted a business meeting at our house that day, I immediately knew the friends my son was pulling to mind. I commended him on his word choice (after all, I also would have used the word wild to characterize this slightly berserk, madcap and profligate bunch). Given the opportunity to add more adjectives to the group portrait, I would have likely included blunt, candid, outspoken…sincere…unapologetic…authentic. Really?
And here began my inquiry; while I was 100% sure that I had some wild friends, I began to wonder if I had any really friends, or if I even knew how to recognize one.
There is an amazing chapter in the book, “Writing Toward Home” by Georgia Heard that is titled, I Could Not Tell. In this short, profound episode Heard encourages her reader-writers to find an empty page in a journal and write the words “I could not tell” at the top. She goes on to encourage a release of what you perceive as your deepest, darkest secrets upon that page. Talk about a scary invitation…
I could not tell…(insert horrible and devastating experience from childhood).
I could not tell…(insert haphazard, crazy hopes and dreams).
I could not tell…(insert barrage of high school and college errors in judgment).
I could not tell…(insert the desire for a job that is completely opposite of current job)
I could not tell…(insert wrong love choices and all the subsequent wrong choices made as a result).
I could not tell…(insert feelings of self-doubt that lead to self-preservation)
i could not tell…(insert extreme highs and bouts of depression).
i could not tell…(insert divergent and contradictory thinking about people and the world).
I could not tell…(insert description of who you actually are).
I could not tell…(insert truth and authenticity).
I have made this list in my own writer’s notebook times over. And for many years, I could never have imagined sharing it with someone else. That was, until I met my husband. One by one, I revealed my life lines to him and I was comforted by his absence of judgment and his lack of needing to mend or fix me. In fact, there was a scarcity in his reactions to the existence that I had attempted to keep hidden from others (and quite frankly, from myself) for so long. It was the first time that I learned to accept the journey of authenticity that life expected me to embrace, and it was the first time I had ever met a really.
My reallys are people who want me to be blunt, candid, outspoken, sincere, unapologetic and authentic in my being. They nurture my evolving ups and downs. They refuse my offerings to filter my personal narrative and defend my truth when they see me stray toward a fictitious version of my story. They restore my faith in myself and help me retrieve the depths of my intuition, insight and identity. They don’t expect my past to be different nor my future to be clear. They simply encourage me to be present and to live my current moments as honestly as possible.
So do I have really friends? I think so. At least a few.
But perhaps the bigger question now is, “am I a really?“. I damn-well hope so.
*At the very end of the chapter, Heard encourages love & acceptance of everything that has been purged on to the page. It is a beautiful exercise in self-compassion, understanding & empathy.