So last weekend I finally watched the movie Bridesmaids. My closest girl friends have been raving about it for ages, and when I announced that it had arrived from Netflix they wanted to get together and watch it. Once again they repeated that it was an awesome, super funny movie and I would love it.
Bridesmaids was without a doubt the most terrifying psychological horror movie I have seen in ages. I wept profusely through most of it, trying and probably failing to hide my tears from my friends. It hit way, WAY too close to home. Watching Kristen Wiig play out my deepest insecurities in a worst-case scenario setting was almost too much for me to watch.
See, I have been friends-dumped by women who I thought were my eternal besties more than once. I’ve been there. I’ve had to stand impotently by while the friends who shared my formative years met guys, got married, and, worst of all, found other girl friends and slowly forgot about me. It’s more painful, deeper, longer-lasting pain, than breaking up with a guy. It makes you believe you are inherently unlovable.
Of course I know that the intensity of those emotions I felt while watching Kristen Wiig experience everything that I fear most in life are seated in my truly crappy childhood interactions with my peers. Yeah, duh, that’s where it comes from. Obvious. If I hadn’t experienced the uncontrolled emptiness of losing the people who I thought were closest to me over and over and over at an early age I might have just seen Bridesmaids as a hilarious comedy instead of a tragedy. My baggage warped my viewing of the story.
Which brings me to my point.
I am a firm believer in the concept that we can never truly escape the wounds that are inflicted in our childhoods. Those scars, be they from petty hurts or monumental tragedy, stay with us for our entire lives and shape how we view the world. You don’t get over them. They stick.
I was having a conversation about this with one of my close friends who is a “newer” friend (about three years) and she strongly disagreed with me. I was surprised. She was passionate about the fact that no, what happened to you in your childhood is in the past. It’s important to get over it. Whatever it takes to get over it, you have to do that and you have to move on. And once you’ve moved on you have to leave all those things in the past where they belong. Period.
I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this advice/belief system. I know that this friend had some crap to deal with in her childhood, so it’s not like her belief is coming from a place of not knowing. She seems very well-adjusted and happy with her life as it is right now. True, she’s younger than me, hasn’t crossed over that strange and significant age of 35 (where, at least in my experience, everything started to change and slip). She has her moments too and I don’t know what’s really going on in her head.
But it does make me think.
Does the past ever leave us or do we carry our scars for our whole lives?
I should qualify to say that I do think it’s possible, even imperative, to work through and get beyond the pain of our past. I don’t walk around every day paranoid that my best friends will dump me and make new best friends. Yes, I worry about it way in the back of my mind in a place that I can tune out 99% of the time. Yes, occasionally I’ll watch a movie like Bridesmaids that hits way too many nerves. But for the most part I don’t let that particular piece of baggage get in the way of everyday life.
But I know that friendship, jealousy, and self-worth are and probably always will be much more of a stumbling block for me than most other people. That writing was on the wall a very long time ago.
Curing the mind of the unfairness of childhood wounds kind of feels like a simple matter of logic. I know I’m being silly. Healing the heart of the pain inflicted on a sensitive soul that was too young to handle disappointment and betrayal is another can or worms entirely. I will always feel that pain, whether I want to or not.
So what do you think? Can we check our baggage and leave it behind us without worrying or do we carry it with us always?