to-those-i-left-behindI moved a lot as a kid.
I remember in 2nd or 3rd grade alone it was 3 different schools. There is no grand reason why; no parent serving their country, or being transferred to provide for the family. My family life was a mess, and I got dragged along for the ride. Idaho, then California, then Idaho again, then California again, then Texas briefly, and then BACK to Idaho. Not to mention the school year with Mom (wherever she had currently decided to live), and flying for summers with my Dad in California.

It was not fun. For someone who is a people person, who is highly empathetic and sensitive, to say this was hard is an understatement. Every time I would make a friend, I would start to feel settled and connected somewhere, it would all change with no notice. My early childhood is a blur of moving, friends I can only vaguely recall, and not knowing even a single teacher’s name from before 6th grade.

Junior high ended up being a massive dose of family dysfunction, and the moving continued. Into my Dad’s house with my less than thrilled stepmom. Then to a town so freakin’ small, if you blinked, you might actually miss it.
Home life sucked, but high school gave me a chance to make some real friends. No more being dragged around, and having to walk on eggshells at home meant my friends were safer than family .
But by my Junior year of high school,things had gotten so bad with my stepmom, I had to get out. Knowing you are unwelcome and resented, makes it hard to feel like anywhere is home, is safe. I moved in briefly with a family who had no idea of my baggage, than in with a friend, and then out on my own. I’d had enough of feeling out of place. I was too young and ignorant to realize that those friends loved me and
were trying to be there for me even in that time.

With the exception of my husband, this was the pattern of my early adult life as well. I had many people come and go, quick growing and equally quick ending friendships , because I didn’t know how to keep them. I would just withdraw. There are a few I know I damaged beyond repair, or outright destroyed when they were asking for me for connection that I just couldn’t give;
 those are the hardest to admit.

It took me years to realize, and to be able to acknowledge, that I abandoned my friends. I didn’t know how to keep myself together, AND stay connected with them. I cut and run, because it was easier, and the only way I knew to cope. Those people I loved, I laughed with until it hurt , the ones I painted cars with to attend football games shouting ” Junior Power”, the ones I cried to when I couldn’t take anymore of my family’s crap, the ones who took me in to help having NO idea of the mess I was,and the ones who invested their time and love into me because they were good people, and believed in me.

I’ve tried many times to say it, to pick up the phone, and then my guilt and shame gets the better of me. I see your faces on social media. I see your smiles, and your families, and how you are still connected to each other, and I am happy for you. I am also achingly sad that I missed it.
How can I ask, after all these year, for your forgiveness?
But I have to try, to move forward and forgive myself.

For those I left behind:  I am so, so sorry.
I was wrong.

Maya Angelou said that when you know better, you do better.
Now, I know better. I am in a place to honestly admit what I did, consciously or not.
Now, I know better, and I choose to stay. I stay connected  with my small group of close adult friends.
We laugh at the insanity of parenthood and adulting, and cry when we need to, because that’s ok, too.
I face uncomfortable situations, and choose to communicate, instead of withdraw.
I choose to stay, and be vulnerable, and yes, sometimes broken.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. ” C.S.Lewis