I read this at last weeks writing group. There was a pit at the bottom of my stomach but I went ahead. Again, I was putting myself out there, but it seems I was not alone. Others in the group talked about moving often and the effects that had on them. It was interesting, as some had the opposite result, while others were somewhere in the middle. It reminded me that we are all different yet there are commonalities that link us.
The writing group, and you, know me almost as well as I know myself. I sat here wondering why I was going to post this to my blog. One reason is that I want it included in the book I print at the end of the year and the other I had to think about. In the end, I decided that seeing my journey to enlightenment might help you in yours. Looking at ourselves and our flaws gives opportunity for growth and change.
I was not even a year old when I lost my first friend - it was a trend that would eventually cause anguish and then withdrawal.
It started when we moved to Edmonton, just before I turned a year old. I may have missed the playmate left behind in Calgary, but I was probably too young to notice. While we lived in Edmonton we moved at least once -friends came and went.
We moved to Saskatoon when I was four. My cat came with us, but I have no memory of friends left behind. We were there long enough for me to go to Kindergarten, but I started Grade 1 in Rivers, Manitoba, not knowing anyone. I remember one friend - Kathy lived across the street - I know there were other children that I played with, but they are just vague shadows in my memory. I think I cried when it was time to move 2 years later.
I started grade 3 in another new town and school. Walking into the classroom not knowing a soul took courage that my shy self could barely muster. We lived in Portage La Prairie for two years. Friends were made, adventures were had, and then it was time to move on again. More tears, although I can't for the life of me remember anyone except Gina Stopani-Thompson, but I probably remember her because we met again when I was in high school.
Grade 5 had me screwing up my nerve to walk into another new school, this one in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I made friends with Jackie, the girl across the street. We were as close as two 10 year old girls could be. I had other friends, but not close ones.
Moving cities and schools didn't stop then, there were many more heartbreaks to come. While we lived in Winnipeg my dad got sent on a 6 month course to Farnbourough, England. Our family, of course, joined him. Vivian and I became inseparable while we lived there, and I cried when we left.
We spent two more years in Winnipeg before the really hard moves started. I was about to enter high school when we left Winnipeg for distant Ottawa, Ontario. It was supposed to be for only one year, little did I know that my friends from Winnipeg would never be seen again. In our new home in Ottawa, Heather lived next door and we became close friends quickly as neither of us knew anyone. Walking the school halls of my new high school and not knowing a soul was hard.
The one year in Ottawa turned to two. We moved to Kanata. Starting fresh at a new high school in grade 11, this time not even having one friend, was hard for me. I was shy and awkward with low self-esteem. I didn't have the courage to break into the already established cliques so the school year was almost over by the time I had the nerve to make a few friends. I was scared of being hurt again - I didn't think I could take another heartbreak.
My defences were weak at first, but as the partings mounted I found ways to cope. Looking back it seems that many of my friends have reduced to vague memories, ghosts really. It is as if I'm looking through a reel of tape that has faded with time. Some of the figures have faded completely leaving white space that you know must have been filled, but can't fathom with what. Other figures still have a ghostly outline. I'm in the picture but I am doing the pantomime by myself. I look sad and lonely. I can't remember details of how they looked or what we did together. It hurt too much to love someone and then have them ripped out of my life as if they had died with no funeral to ease the passing. Many of my memories are of things that I've done by myself. Were others with me and my mind has wiped them out? Or did I become a bit of a loner to protect my sensitive feelings?
Where has all this left me? I'm cautious about getting close to people which I think makes me look stand-offish and reserved. I tend to keep a wall between myself and others - it is safer sometimes not to feel too much. As much as I want to, it is hard to make the leap from acquaintance to friend, but I'm trying to be more open and learning to take risks.
I don't want to give the impression that there was only heartbreak as a child, there are good things with having moved and experienced so much. I'm open-minded and flexible. I'm interested in other people and their stories. I've learned how to walk into a group of people and fake a look of confidence.
You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent. ~Paulo Coelho