My Old Friend

Version 2
The 80s in Los Angeles

 

down 47.2 pounds so far

I reconnected with my oldest, dearest friend this week. The kind of friend you can not talk to for months but you pick up the conversation right where it left off.  We live on opposite sides of the country now, but there was a time we lived across the street from one another, worked together, and saw each more than we saw our husbands some weeks.

Carol and I met when we were both in the same women’s group in L.A in our mid-twenties. Oh, those were the days: we met weekly with the most wonderful leader: Lynn was warm, funny, intuitive; a savvy, accomplished Earth Mama. And the women in the group were amazing: young, earnest, funny, neurotic in the best possible sense, fiercely supportive. We’d retire to the front porch of Lynn’s comfortable home after our session and just wouldn’t leave. Sometimes Lynn would join us; other times she would laugh, shake her head, shut the door to her house and just let us hang out.

When I talked to Carol this week we talked a bit about the past: do you remember after the big Northridge earthquake in LA when we?…do you remember the night we?….Do you remember that person who?….

And then I started thinking about how Carol has always had the most exquisite bullshit meter of anyone I know. Even living in La La Land she was never impressed with celebrity or wealth. She gets a funny gleam in her eye when someone is going on and on, pontificating, especially if they don’t know what the hell they are talking about but keep going on anyway. She won’t rebuke, but you know she is on to you. I have seen her look at me that way more than once (I do go on and on).

Carol didn’t know I had a blog. And I thought of sharing it with her after we spoke, but thought: what if I am just full of crap? What if she thinks: “Jen, you have been saying the same thing for years, fighting the same battles, not really changing, not really getting anywhere.” Would Carol say that? Think that? I don’t think so, but it sure reminded me that I tend to think that about myself. It’s the philosophical question I was pondering when I very first started writing this: how much can I change? How much can anyone change? How much is fixed in our psyches from the start, and how much is fixable?

I am who I am. I am still Neurotic. Funny. Fearful. Messy. Full of crap sometimes. Full of Love most times. But I know for sure that I am changing the parts of me that keep me trapped and unhappy.

I think, for me, being overweight has always been like wearing my flaws on my sleeve. Most of us have something to hide, or bury, something we don’t like about ourselves. If you are slender maybe people don’t see your flaws so quickly. If you are overweight you get to assume that THAT is the flaw, just the weight. But of course it is not. For me, my weight has been so intimately tied with my flaws in thinking, my unhealthy ways of moving about the world that is has been impossible to tease out and separate the two.

I am so in awe of the friends I have, like Carol, who loved me pretty much from the start, in spite of my weight, in spite of the flaws both immediately visible and the ones you only try to share with those you trust. Friends like that remind you of your beauty, too.

I trust Carol completely. I am working to trust myself more and more and that is the kind of change I know without a shadow of a doubt is doable.

So I shared the blog with Carol. And she shared something with me. She reminded me of a poem that Lynn gave us thirty years ago. Wow. It resonated then, and resonates now.

 

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

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2 thoughts on “My Old Friend

  1. Jen, I resonate deeply with your sharing. Assigning a critical voice to others that is in fact my own critical voice. We ARE our own worse enemy!

    And your philosophical question — “How much can I change? How much can anyone change? How much is fixed in our psyches from the start, and how much is fixable?” — we’re going to explore these questions this week in our salon, Many Masks, as these are big questions for me as well.

    Loving you and see you soon!
    XO

    Liked by 1 person

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