It is one thing to see people you know, but it is another to feel known. Yesterday, I did both.
Different people in my life have offered me different things. The friends I’ve made in college have known my ups and downs in a genuine way only fostered after years of being prompted to open up and show up in my truth. The friends I’ve made in treatment have known me in a light of raw emotions and painful, evolutionary growth. But the friends I’ve had since I was a child know my history as witnesses to it, and there’s something to be said for that.
It is one thing to know a person’s recounting of their life, but it is another to know it as a part of your own. All of the relationships I have fostered throughout my life have played and still play pertinent roles in developing the person I am today. I don’t know who or where I would be without the supports that helped get me here. And, because of this, I value them all differently but equally.
Yesterday, I reconnected with some of my closest friends from my childhood and early adolescence. Most of my more recent relationships I can evaluate and gain perspective on quite easily based on current experiences, but it’s always fascinating to me when old relationships re-emerge or I see people I haven’t seen in a long time. Seeing these people reminded me of the range of ways a person can feel known.
Growing up, I showed a true range of colors. My ability to express myself and live authentically was extremely limited and I was often struggling silently. Although I wasn’t able to reach out and ask for help and my facade was thick, the people who were with me through it have the first-hand knowledge of their own experiences to remind me of where I’ve come from. I am reminded of what it is like to not have to fill in all of the spaces from my past. It feels like at least a part of me is known. I can introduce the person I am today with the understanding of who I was yesterday.
This, itself, can be difficult. It is always hard to show up with new ways of being in old circumstances. However, seeing my childhood friends gave me an opportunity to see my progress, and, more importantly, to be present for it. Showing them around Boston, I was reminded of how disconnected I used to be with the profound realization of how much more connected I currently am. I also saw how that can strengthen a relationship or offer more to others. I was both able to receive more and give more in the time spent.