Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fear, Facebook, and Sarah Ferguson

I am eternally grateful that when I was a teenager and a young(er) adult that there was no such thing as digital recordings made with handheld devices carried about on a day to day basis.
I’ve done so many foolish, frivolous, and forgettable things. I have made a royal ass of myself and many occasions. I have far too many memories that I’d sooner forget. I am grateful that the evidence only lies in still photographs, a few video tapes, and the distant memories of the other participants that would probably also sooner forget.
I had a painful and troubled childhood and adolescence. Worse than most, not as bad as some. I went through one-on-one and group therapy for about ten years, so I’ve heard enough stories to make a solid comparison. Before and even after I began counseling, I acted out a great deal. I’m not proud of my behavior, but I try to be compassionate toward my younger self; it took a long time to acquire the skills to deal with the lousy hand that I was dealt, and a lot of work to slog through the debris of what my life had become by the time I was ready to confront it all.
Fear can manifest itself as other things. I was lucky, in a way. I was able to get angry at the gross injustice of my early experiences, and so as a result did not entirely turn inward and punish only myself. Compared to those who let the pain completely eat away at them from within, or twist every arrow so that it pointed at their own soul, I was able to direct some of the energy outward, even though it took years to direct it at the correct targets. They told me I was strong, and that being able to get mad saved me from the most destructive of the hurt.
So, although I was self-sabotaging and lacked confidence and self-esteem, most of my antics were simply stupid. Not earth-shaking, not news-making, and blessedly, not distributed on YouTube or Facebook or – yet – ending up on Oprah. Now that I have a daughter, I am especially grateful for that. As I flailed about in my misery and despair, only the people who actually witnessed it are aware that it happened.
I listened to Sarah Ferguson discuss her recent embarrassment on tv, and I thought again, how fortunate I am that so far nothing I’ve done has surfaced on the Internet. But if it did, I can say with confidence that I’ve only ever hurt myself, that I never caused damage that was not easily mended, and that nothing irrevocable ever occurred. That is a lot to be thankful for.
I’m a lot older now, and – I like to think – a lot wiser. I wish I could go talk to my younger self, but mostly I’d just want to hold her and tell her she was lovable, and ask her to trust herself more. I’m glad that I am in a position to have stupid, embarrassing things in my past that no one cares about but me. I’m glad I made it this far.


  1. Well, I don't know where you've been, but I like where you are.

  2. How true. As entertaining as FB, YouTube and all the other instant sharing gadgits are, I'm so happy to not be young and foolish in this day and age.

    ...oh wait.

  3. What a well written and honest post! I can relate to everything you said and I truly appreciate your transparency. Wow. Your daughter is very lucky to have you to show her how to love herself. It can be a hard lesson to learn on your own and what a precious gift to be able to teach her, by example, that it's not always what happens to you in life that shapes you, it's how you handle it.

    And btw, almost EVERY day I see (or do!) something that reminds me how lucky I am that camera phones and video cameras were not around in my wilder days. Whew!

  4. What a lovely and introspective post. I'm glad you've forgiven yourself your youthful indiscretions. Why hold on to mistakes you've made? Acknowledge, learn, and move on.


  5. Frank: Nicely said. Back at ya!

    Mala: Oh, drinks with our friends don't count, because these days our clothes (mostly) stay on...

    RGR: Thank you. Being a good mom to my daughter makes so much of it make sense, in a way. Like it wasn't just a waste, but can be used to help her be a happy, functioning adult. At least that's my working thesis...

    Bev: Still, darling, I wish I'd known you when. Of course, you'd have been too young to appreciate me then, so...

  6. Oh, drinks with our friends don't count, because these days our clothes (mostly) stay on...

    ...thanks to Mala's mad photoshop skillz.

  7. We all make mistakes, whether we're young or old. Hopefully we learn from them and move on and do better the next time. I'm sorry to hear things were difficult for you when you were young. I do think whatever happened is a part of you and has made you stronger and more compassionate and more forgiving. Thoughtful and thought provoking post. Very well done. :)

  8. Frank: You are so droll.

    Daisy: Thank you for that. I wish bad things didn't happen to children, but it HAS made me a wiser adult.

  9. Can I hear a AMEN to that !! Very well put and oh so true . Thank you !