This week I've spent some time visiting my twenty-something self. She was quite the girl. I don't mean that in a completely negative connotation.
I kept a series of journals, one after the other after the other, in various notebooks with artistic covers, and as I started going through them I noticed how I would continue in the same vein of thinking from one notebook to the other, starting with a new date, not even a cover page, I would just dive right into the next one. I took them down off of a high shelf to start leafing through them, mostly to go back through some old, long-buried memories of someone whom, at one time, was very special to me.
The first thing that struck me about my journals as I began to read through them was how detailed they were, how descriptive, how utterly emotive, and in some cases, how desparate the entries were--my desparation in trying to understand MYself, the person I would grow into, grow up to be, maybe the WOMAN I am today--so different from that very innocent girl, with no veneer, no protection, no savvy, and very little insight into human nature, not even her own.
It struck me as odd, because on the surface, I was technically a very put-together twenty-something; I had a job that I was continually advancing in, I had my own apartment where I lived alone and paid all the bills for myself, with no help; I went to a gym on a regular basis, I cooked dinner alone every night, and I had a huge friend base with a very active social life.
But inside, from ages 25 to I'd say, about 31, I suffered from a long, debilitating depression, which affected my view of my interior life, my perception of myself, and my hopefulness for any kind of future, let alone a positive one.
Back to the journals--the second thing that struck me was how memory really and truly does gloss over all the detailed memories of your life. And I have an amazing memory. But even I have forgotten multitudes of things in the last 6 years I've been "recovered" from my depression. I have forgotten things and situations in all detail until I started reading through them over the last few days. Conversations, songs I listened to that formed a soundtrack for me to live along to, places I went, things I ate, what my view was like outside my Bathurst apartment window, and how I felt about my job at the time--it was like reading something written by someone else. Looking back on my writings as a healthy person is sort of terrifying. I had no idea, at the time, what kind of shape I really was in. I just went along day by day, accepting my constant crying, my unbelievable misery, and my pain as normal.
During this time, I was lucky enough to be under the care and supervision of a very skilled psychotherapist, who guided me through cognitive therapy, with the right balance of kindness and candor, to help me recognize the behaviour patterns and pitfalls I continually fell back into.
I also had a very close friend, with his own demonic depression, who hid it, I realize now, much the way I so cleverly hid mine. He was several years older than me, too, so he had the benefit of living that much more and refining how he let the world see him.
On the outside, he was a gregarious, endlessly patient and forgiving person, who never complained, and who could always, no matter how futile the situation, see the humour in it, without making the joke at someone elses' expense. Inside, I suspect, and I can only suspect, I can't ask him directly, as I haven't seen him in six years, that he suffered much the way I did, possibly in an even bleaker fashion. In true twenty-something, like-seeking-like fashion, I did exactly what my now thirty-something self knows would have been the absolute worst thing to do: I fell in love with him. Consequences be damned. And boy, was I ever damned.
Sometime in 2004 I stopped writing in those journals. I had stopped all dating, I had stopped all fantasies about someone rescuing me from myself, and I finally, after so long, started to see who I could be if I could only just LET myself. I've always been a late bloomer in every respect of the word, in every stage of life, and thus it took me to 31 to get to a place most people are in when they are in their early twenties. No bother, it was just the way it was. It still is.
Also sometime in 2004 I stopped being in love with my friend. I hadn't seen him in a long time (he had moved away), and we no longer communicated. I would hear about him from mutual friends, and I would file any information away quietly, and think about it when I was alone. I was glad he seemed to be living his life the fashion he wanted--freely, unfettered, a vagabond-like existence that he seemed to be perfectly suited for.
When I learned of his death this week, nothing could have prepared me. It was too much of a shock, even now, years on, time gone by, life running along like a train on a track.
As it said in the paper today.
Rest in peace my love.