While watering my garden on a pretty day this past summer, a young man and his male partner and dog approached. The tall, blond man asked if I had once lived on another street. Reluctantly, I said yes. Smiling widely, he said, “I am the Mormons.” Waiting in vain for me to make the connection, he said, I’m Andy (not his real name); I lived next door to you. I am the Mormons.”
A flood of memories came tumbling in. This young man was a boy I had adored. Now I was smiling too, filled with flashes of years past.
Andy was nine or so when we moved in next door. We would laugh and play, enjoying each other’s company. He had two sisters, usually out doing teenage things, and while his parents seemed friendly enough, we mostly talked with Andy.
Over time, their family seemed to grow more dysfunctional, or maybe it just became more apparent over time. Clearly, this boy’s life was awful. Yet he kept busy by repairing cars, puttering around the house and generally buzzing around the property. Eventually, the mom got MS, and the dad, who was high up in the Mormon community, left the church, his marriage and the family.
One of our last connections was a night I called the police because the mom was screaming for help and no one was home for her. I knew from experience she didn’t want help from me.
Then they were gone. I didn’t know the details of their lives but here, today, young man stood in my front yard reminding me what we can do with our lives as adults. He is also a reminder of how to treat others, knowing that we all have pasts, many traumatic.
It is such a balm to see someone on the path of healing. (See this wonderful article on Healing Centered Engagement: The Future of Healing)
I asked Andy how everyone turned out. He updated me, told me he was “fine,” and that he, his partner and dog lived just up the street. With knowing looks we said goodbye and they went on their way.
Since seeing him I’ve thought a lot about the love and attention adults with childhood pains need. We all present “fine,” put together with jobs, homes and presentation. The truth is, many of us grew up in damaged homes or with people that caused traumas that are hard to heal from. Yet, heal we will. We must. But how, I wonder. Just as each person’s experience is unique, so is their journey toward healing.
My growing up was painful and the traumas I experienced are with me today. Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder is being thrown into the past while living in the present when our trauma comes a-calling. When I was younger, this was more acute, and I was less able to manage my feelings. As a young adult I was still angry and searching for the why of what happened. Over time though, with therapy, love, learning, compassion, and connecting with others, I am finding peace and radical acceptance.
The journey is lifelong. Seeing my old neighbor all grown up I healed a little more, thanks to our shared common humanity.