Oh, those carefree summer days as a teenager,
Riding in cars with boys
To the lake for a swim, to putt-putt, to the drive-in movie…
Well, carefree isn’t exactly how it was
It is a part of that season in my life
But often, we romanticize days gone by
Unwilling to acknowledge the roller coaster ride of our adolescence
Where I felt ungrounded and deeply insecure
My sense of Self based on how others saw me
Wanting desperately to be liked, accepted and belong.
My memories of being a teenager are filled with as many crazy days as glory days. I do love the friends that I got to share the ride with! These characters never cease to make me chuckle with delight as I recall the hell we raised, the places we wandered together where it is only through the graces of the heavens that we are still here to tell the tales, the genuine care and connection through the ups and downs which were extreme and dramatic.
There were a string of boys to ride in cars with and I liked them cute but not pretty, manly in stature and complicated by nature – good at heart in a way that only I could see but not particularly nice to me. Oh, the fun and not so much fun experience of wanting desperately to be liked so much so that I would morph into roles to please saying what I knew they wanted to hear, wearing my hair and clothes the way they liked it, going along with whatever they wanted to do and wherever they wanted to go. I call this phase of my life: If you just (pretend to) love me, I’ll be whoever you need me to be.
When recently asked what type of guy I am attracted to, I heard myself respond: Is there such a thing as a type? The transition from being married to still feeling married to my dead husband even though I was technically single to stepping into actually being single and entertaining the idea of riding in cars with boys again has been a journey, an organic process that still continues, entertaining and amusing me every day.
Initially, I felt violated and insulted if a man would engage me in a way a man does who is interested. There was actually a physical response where my stomach would sink flooded with acidic heat and I thought I might actually throw up. I would be pissed off at the guy, offended as if he had done something wrong or insulted me simply by noticing me. In time, I adopted an attitude that has served me well and speaks to where I am – even if I don’t want to ride in a car with a boy, I will receive the compliment, thank him and say No, I don’t wanna play but thanks for asking.
Traveling by myself around the 2 year mark of John’s death, I met a group of guys who were out on the town with a transparent mission to get drunk and get laid. They were fun so I bantered with them innocently because I am a broad by nature who can hang with the boys as a friend with no desire for anything more. The drunker they got, they began to feed me lines which amused me and added to the fun. In their drunken fog, they were mistaking me for that girl of days gone by who was insecure, desperately needing approval and wanting to be liked. As I stood up to leave grounded in a sense of Self where I am completely comfortable in my own skin, I knew in a profound way that I was safe and at home wherever I go, with whomever I meet along the way and this filled me with an aliveness that only I could give myself. One of the guys asked if he could go back to my hotel with me and I looked him in his bloodshot eyes and said: I am so flattered but no. Staying true to his mission, he added: We can just go back to your room and cuddle. This line humored me and made me curious: Does that line actually work? To which he responded more sober than he had been all night: Yes! It actually does. I thanked him again and said with sincerity: I have no doubt that you will get laid tonight, it is just not gonna’ be me.
I call this phase in my life: I am who I am…I now do the walk of NO SHAME honoring my wants and needs where I make choices based on a sense of Self that is grounded yet ever expanding. This makes life fun whether I am riding in cars with boys (again) or riding solo. And the freedom of this leaves me with a knowing that it is indeed ALL GOOD.
The invitation this day is to ground in a sense of who you are and appreciate with humor and awe the journey that has led you to this day. Gather evidence that affirms your strength, courage and wisdom that could only come from following your own yellow brick road that led you to your Ruby Slippers where you know with all of your heart: There is no place like home which is standing in your own power.
Keep clickin’ those heels come what may!