Not that person anymore
When my just-younger sister considered where to pursue graduate studies, I advised her to go away. “It’s good to be around people who see who you for who you are, not who you were. It gives you a chance to grow into your real self.”
When my mom died, I wish she’d had a like chance to go away and find who she was apart from what others expected her to be. I wished this all the more reading one of the comments on her guest book from a former friend who suggested she was the only one who “got” my mom, when what she got was the tiny sampling her particular perspective allowed her to see.
Sometimes I have an exchange with someone that leaves me perplexed. I feel as if we are having two different conversations before it hits me: They are talking to who I used to be.
I am not that person anymore. Parts of her will be with me always, but with time, experience and reflection, they become lesser parts of a greater whole. It’s strange to realize I am being seen for who I was before: before I learned, for example, early last year that health comes above all else, or that some discussions are best held privately-even when begun publicly–the year before that, or, even earlier, that motherhood suited me more than my younger self could ever have dreamed.
On my wedding night, my now mother-in-law laid out worksheets asking attendees things like, “What are your three favorite things about the bride?”
What surprised–no, shocked–me was how many people called me a good listener. When did that happen?
But then I think: Maybe that is just a reflection of living what I know now, which is that you can’t know for sure who someone is based on what you knew of them before. Maybe when people think of me as a good listener, they get the sense that I am trying to hear them and see them as they are now.
Because I am. That is where we live, after all.