I admit it. I search for people all the time who aren’t my friends on Facebook. Usually, this happens during bouts of nostalgia when I find myself thinking about the people with whom I grew-up and wondering where they are, what they are doing, what they look like and how happy they appear.
I want to compare where I am, what I’m doing, what I look like and how happy I am with my childhood friends. I am always relieved and slightly joyous when I see that there has been weight gain, wrinkles, weariness…good. It’s not just me.
There are many people with whom I wish I had kept more regular contact. People with whom I am no longer “friends” – not even on Facebook. Sometimes I creep these people to see what life is like for them. I did this yesterday and spent a considerable amount of time looking at a few childhood friends and I was genuinely glad to see how happy they appeared. I was pleased that they had experienced adventures, travel, fun, love and beauty.
I considered sending a few friend requests, but got lost in thoughts of how it would be perceived by these people. I suffered from depression for most of my time in high school. This was before depression was really understood, talked about or treated. But, the biggest casualty of my depression was my social life. I withdrew from all of my friends and lost most of those relationships. One of the biggest hangers-on of this time period is embarrassment. I feel embarrassed all the time about how I was and I assume that people remember me in a negative light.
I was moody, judgmental, shy, confused, lonely and lost.
During these years my FB posts would have be the kind that you just get tired of seeing so you block the person so you don’t get the constant drone of negative status updates in your feed.
When I think about these years I am always overwhelmed with sadness for the many memories I have about stupid things I did as a result of my state of mind. I’ve been working on forgiving myself, and giving that girl a chance to heal and find acceptance; strangely, creeping on Facebook kind of helps with this. I’ve managed to ‘rekindle’ a few of these lost relationships and they have been extremely meaningful to me. Every time I send a request to a long, lost, friend and then we message back and forth a bit, and eventually just start to share life through the regular news feed, it helps normalize what feels like an extremely polarizing time for me.
I wish I could sit down with all of my old friends and have an open discussion about those years, explain what was going on in my world, express my regret for how I may have treated them, share my sorrow for all the lost time and then make-up for some of that time and move-forward as friends again.
My mind is full of many happy memories with them. I remember hours and hours of time spent together, laughing, talking about boys, playing stupid games, sleepovers, doing makeup, playing sports, passing notes in school…I see snapshots in my mind of us together on hammocks, acting cool at school dances, playing flag football, flirting and silly things like stuffing our shirts with balloons. The memories are full and rich.
But, then there are years where the memories are filled with pictures of school dances, football games, pep rallies and lunches filled with all these faces growing and enjoying life—but mine is not with them. These memories haunt me like shadows. Life was happening all around me, but I wasn’t in it.
So, I creep on facebook. I try to fill-in some of the gaps. I reach-out. I rekindle. I make progress.
I am so thankful for those friends with whom I’ve managed to reconnect because, the truth is, the folks with whom I grew-up really do mean a lot to me. They were the people that helped shape me into who I am today. They were my original cheerleaders, challengers and role-models. They were my squad, my family, my community. They exist in my memory as a deep and vast resource of life, joy, sorrow, lessons-learned, new experiences, comfort and friendship and I am so thankful for the ability to creep into their lives now and get a little piece of what once was.