Since I started on my stay home parenting journey, my social circle had shrunk and I find myself often wondering about the fluidity and fragility of friendship. How some friends stay put in your life while others leave, returning once in a blue moon or not at all.
And then there are those from your past you’ve completely forgotten who suddenly re-appear, seemingly out of nowhere, to seek amends and reconnect.
Which was precisely what happened recently.
Blast from the past!
A couple of months ago, someone who claimed to be an ex-classmate dropped me a note on Facebook Messenger. As I’m not a regular user of that platform, I almost missed it.
At first, I thought it was a hoax. The way the world is these days, with increasing incidences of spams and scams reported in the news, it’s entirely possible someone might be trying to pull a fast one on me. So best to play it safe right?
Which I did.
I ignored the note.
After all, I genuinely had no clue who this person was when I saw his message. And his profile picture on Facebook was alien to me. Plus, he was based in Los Angeles, California, and I hardly know anyone there.
So I thought, that was that.
But somehow, he found my email address and sent me another message in mid March to connect. This time, he included a picture of a class we were in back when we were 17 or 18 years of age.
Talk about a blast from the past!
Those were the days my friend…
There, a “blast-from-the-past mug shot” to end all mug shots!
Quick, can you spot me and guess when this picture was taken?
I doubt it. I can barely make out who’s who myself!
In fact, truth be told, if there was one memory of a class I could erase, this would be the one. But that’s fodder for another day’s post (assuming I’ll ever want to dig up those old wounds).
The picture seemed like it was from another lifetime, and I barely recognise myself and him in it. But there it was, proof he was who he said he was. To be fair to me though, the name he went by then wasn’t the one he now calls himself, hence my initial reservation to reply.
But this time, reply I did. And it was to ask a simple question.
For convenience, let’s call my ex-classmate CK.
Back then CK and I were hardly close. We barely spoke. And since there were others in that class more sociable than yours truly, I was puzzled he reached out to connect with me.
So all in all I believe my question was a fair one, if a trifle blunt.
To my surprise, his reply to my question came within a few hours.
Apparently CK had pulled out the old school yearbook while looking for something else. Curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to take a stroll down memory lane. Which led him to go online to ‘search’ the world wide web for anyone from that class.
Lo and behold, he found me. According to CK, of all the people from that class, I was apparently the only one on cyberspace with a “very prominent digital footprint”!
But it was his next words that really took me by surprise!
“I owe all the classmates an apology” — seeking amends
Despite the fact that over three decades had already gone by, CK had been haunted by the notion that he hadn’t been very nice to the class way back then. His desire now was to reconnect, and to seek amends.
In his own words:
“I owe all the classmates an apology. This is the reason why I contacted you. I was too intense and focused on trying to survive and get into college. Everyday was a struggle for me. The course load, to be very frank was too much for me to handle. I wish I was nicer to everyone. If I can go back in time I would have told myself to chillax and lower my expectations. To stop being so intense. I was …trying too hard to do well in school. I apologize for being a jerk.”
It was one thing to get a blast from the past; quite another to get a full-on confession outta the blue! And one that seemed just a tad too harsh. After all, we were all still barely 20 back then, so why come down so hard on yourself CK?
At least that was my first thought, after the initial surprise at the intense apology had worn off.
No amends necessary cos no real harm done. Rather, bravo!
In a way, I was glad CK connected and spoke up so openly. I think it took courage to ‘fess up to something that had been dogging his steps from here to L.A. for over 30 years!
And in an alpha-male world like this one still is, such honesty don’t come by easily; nor the desire to make amends.
So few in this world realise that seemingly innocuous things in life (like CK’s perception of our class and his take on how he behaved) often have a way of insinuating themselves deep into our psyche for years and years.
They leave us feeling inadequate and even ashamed of things said or actions taken long ago. Carefully buried by our conscious but, unfortunately, not by our unconscious minds.
In fact, as author/researcher/psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk‘s best-known book title aptly warns us, even “The Body Keeps the Score” when it comes to past experiences we have involving grief, anxiety or trauma.
So CK, if you’re reading this, thanks.
Thanks for wanting to seek amends. For taking a risk with me, still practically a stranger to you really. And for speaking up so boldly despite the fact that it might make you seem silly (which I assure you it doesn’t).
When you swing by again CK, let’s make “real amends” — the lost years of friendship– and catch up properly shall we?