A few weeks ago I was asked by one of the people in my writer’s group to go to a concert. No big deal, right?
Let me lay the groundwork for you. I’m nice, but awkward. I have a hard time making friends because trust is a hurdle for me. I am nice to everyone and I can carry a conversation if you start it. I understand the basics of friendship, but in my life I have had about 5 true friends. These are people that get me. They put up with my social ineptitude time and again. They make me feel worth it.
Anyway, the concert. So on the outside this woman and I don’t appear like we should be friends. Read that sentence again, it’s petty, I know. As you may have seen from other blogs, I am working on shedding a life based on body image. I’m not there yet. I have spent a life handing out forgiveness for being too awkward or too fat or insert-something-that-annoys-another here. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but it takes time. I’m middle aged and overweight. She is younger and a Cross Fit body builder. I’ll give you a moment to make the image.
The take away from this concert for me was huge. We could’ve seen an orchestra or Liberace. It wouldn’t have mattered. It was the time in between the music that held the most meaning. On the hour drive there, we talked about our lives in trauma and with writing. Underneath our exteriors, under the skin, we slowly found that we were of the same tribe. Over the years, I medicated with food and she medicated with lifting. I didn’t ask her outright if that was the reason for the intense workouts, but from either point of view--food or weightlifting--it’s about control. People of trauma crave control, and as she put it, certainty.
We shared our recent journeys in love and how we arrived at the present moment sitting in my car, splitting the countryside with our collective pain. Many times she apologized for speaking of her traumas on our first outing as friends. I didn’t acknowledge the apology because it wasn’t necessary. Car rides are the best place for people of trauma to spill demons, because the other person can only listen. There is no fixing, only understanding and clarification.
Once at the venue, we went to buy water. She was going to buy mine because I drove. I refused and grabbed my wallet to pay for my own because it is what I do. Owe no one anything. I have lived that motto for my lifetime. She looked at me and said, “Let me buy this. This is what friends do.”
Imagine standing in a lobby of humans and being invisibly struck by lightning.
We talked some more as the first band came on, sitting while everyone else was standing. This was less trauma and more writing. When the band she wanted to see took the stage we stood, side by side, and something happened to me for the first time. Amongst a sea of young college students, next to this woman who is physically one of the strongest people I know, who is beautiful, and I found myself not caring about my body. I stood surrounded by beauty not worrying about how old I was, how fat I was, or whether or not I deserved to be there. I simply, was.
The music was good. The light show amazing. The life lesson, priceless.
In the land of healing a lifetime of traumas, these small wins feel like gold medal performances. This connected me to another human who has run a similar path, who is still working on healing and trusting and moving forward. I thank her for reaching out to ask me to do something, for noticing me, for making me feel like a valid individual. Score one for the home team.
Thanks for reading. Be kind to each other. Write. Read books. Share your world.