“Yesterdays disappear, and your memory’s my only souvenir.” – Ricky Peterson, from the title track of his album “Souvenir”
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve needed to find closure on a few issues, some dating as far back as 1992. I’ve had this crippling fear in my head of EVERYTHING that could go wrong by taking this action, but I decided to “put my fears upon the shelf, and be true to myself,” and do what I’ve needed to do for quite some time.
In therapy, I’ve incorporated EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization and Reprocessing) into my sessions. This is to help me refocus my outlook on a number of traumatic events from my childhood through adulthood (most of these being self-inflicted). Although it’s not complete amnesia, it’s focusing on the positive moments and people who were in my life when these things happened, and it’s finding a place in my mind of tranquility.
As I’ve been working through this process, I started reaching out to those who were a part of these moments of trauma (either directly or indirectly) to say what has always been in my heart and mind, but I’ve always been afraid to say out loud. As I don’t have direct contact with a couple of these people, I’m thankful that other friends have helped me through this process (thanks, Laurie H).
The biggest challenge of closure is to do it knowing that I wouldn’t get a response…the closure has come from knowing (or at least assuming) that my feelings were heard. As I always felt that I was not as good as everyone else growing up (pretty much until recently), my biggest fear was that this communication would be perceived as needing validation.
I first reached out to my girlfriend from 11th grade. When we dated, a few of her friends thought I was not good enough for her, and this made me feel that I was not good enough. She was very goal-oriented (in a good way), and I just always felt like I fell short of what her ideal boyfriend should be. After we broke up, I still felt that I needed to prove to her and her friends that I was worthy (in hindsight, I cringe when I think about this.) When I spoke to her recently, she flat-out asked me why I felt I needed her validation. Being able to be open and honest about what I had been feeling about myself for many years helped me to reframe the past, and it gave me the opportunity to say what I feared to express, and I did this without any expectations or validation…I was focused on being true to myself above all else.
Next on the list was “Francesca”, from the incredibly fucked-up part of my life called my 20’s. Reaching out to her (albeit very indirectly) was something I had feared for years, because of the magnitude of the mistakes I made with her. Each and every one of these mistakes was self-inflicted, incredibly damaging, and all triggered by the fact that my perception was that I was not good enough for her. For many years I felt incredible shame and embarrassment for the things I did, until I was able to forgive myself (definitely not an easy task). I sent her a text message where I was very honest about my mistakes, and the reason I made those mistakes. I found closure in that I told her everything….I knew there would be no response, but I was able to let it go, because through looking at what happened all those years ago with a healthier perspective, I know that I’d finally made peace with myself, and realize I never had anything to prove to her or anyone.
I wrote a seven-page letter to Miss Vitriol 2019 this week. Although I had forgiven her months ago, there were some things that still needed to be said. These things were not about validation or revenge – it was about saying what I’d been feeling, but was afraid to say, as it could impact other people. I’m thankful that I took a few days to think about what I wanted to say instead of doing this on emotion. I found incredible closure in telling her point blank that I forgave her, even if she still thinks that she doesn’t need it. And yes, I wrote this knowing there would be no response, as my opening remarks were “Although I don’t expect a response to this letter, this is a letter that needs to be written.” I can’t even imagine being able to say these things back in the day, as I’m sure I’d have written letters strictly hoping for a validation response, even if it meant “poking the bear” to get a response.
What I’m learning and enjoying about EMDR is how to close my eyes, and go to my happy place in my mind. My happy place is Tucson Arizona – I remember going on vacation to Arizona about 17 years ago, and driving down to Tucson from Phoenix on a perfect and sunny autumn afternoon. I also vividly remember the album that I listened to on the drive down – Ricky Peterson’s “Souvenir” album. The title track from the album is what I focus on during my EMDR time, and I’m starting to incorporate this into any stressful situations. Being in a mental happy place also gave me the courage to reach out to these people from my past and say what was long overdue.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I am a work in progress. But I’m also good enough, worthy, and equal to the people around me, and in all honesty, these feelings are still very new to me. As a reminder of my self-worth, I think I need to get something to remind me of this on a daily basis…perhaps a souvenir?