First published in July 2017
The Fairytale Past
Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe I had a lot more agency that I have previously admitted: because to be honest, a bit of me had realised, realised even at the time, that I did. I knew I was different, and even in the midst of being humiliated by their I-bet-you-get-all-your-clothes-from-jumble-sales taunts, I felt superior. I made no effort to fit in. I remember that time as friendless, and yet it turns out I did have a friend after all: Miranda, who also went on to become a healer and a yoga person. I met her again recently at a yoga class, she recognised me and said we used to sit beside the tennis courts and talk, and when we went up to high school and I went to boarding school she was devastated. ‘I didn’t think I had any friends,’ I said. ‘Well you did,’ she said, ‘You had me.’
And then I remembered that at junior school I used to stay in at break times with a boy called Keith and work on our stories that we’d been doing in class because we didn’t want to stop writing. I used to choose to stay indoors and write, instead of going out to play. So nothing’s changed then, in forty years.
I lived through all that, experienced it all and so I can travel back there to that 1970’s school play ground and take a fresh look. No time machine required, because my body was there, wasn’t it? Its imprints are in my body, passed from cell to cell like batons in a relay race.
And later, now I return to my past, to myself with illumination
I sometimes wonder if we as we are now make up our pasts- because they don’t really exist do they, except in our minds. Why is it that we talk about them? To make ourselves seem more substantial? Like John telling people he’s been to India, or me telling people I’ve lived in New Zealand for a year- except last time I met new people I didn’t and just presented myself as I am right now. As my friend Jane said, it is feelings and how you are that are important.
Wouldn’t we look at ourselves as we are now and make up our pasts exactly as they are? Me with the Albion Fayres, John with the hard drinking family that made him teetotal and the craziness that made him such a survivor. Do we look at what we are now and make up a back story that explains it, that offers us an explanation? (Me: Sexual appetite and promiscuity= sexual abuse. Social awkwardness= bullied at school)
What if you were brave enough to offer yourself up (to others and to yourself) without explanation or apology? What if you were brave enough to live with yourself as you are now- no back story, no past, just living right now in this now moment, this now place?
Thank you very much for reading