I had a chance last week to sit down with a friend whom I've not spent one-on-one time with in over a decade; probably closer to 15 years, really. We've seen each other at a few social events, we're Facebook friends, of course, but we hadn't really sat down and talked in about that long. As much as I learned about her, I learned about me, and how, no matter what, the essence of who we are cannot be held down. Not forever, anyway.
We've both been married and divorced in the last 15 years. We've both been surviving, with some victories, but always only having ourselves to depend upon to keep us afloat. And I have to say, we not only keep getting through it, but we keep creating new goals for ourselves to reach.
Our conversation wasn't centered on catching each other up, though. We talked about everything from what we're doing now to Charlie Sheen to politics to what we're looking forward to in the future. The past came up naturally, relevant to the point we were making. We were both matter-of-fact about it, having long ago finished the soul-searching of those old dramas, and being comfortable enough with each other to be honest without dwelling or pitying.
These 15 years clearly hadn't damaged our friendship, and fundamentally, they haven't changed who we are. We've grown to be sure, but I think I finally understand what's meant by the phrase, "people don't change."
I may call myself a bitter divorcee, but really, I've just learned some stuff. I still love passionately, I just concentrate that love on people who deserve it now. I still believe in the same ideals I've held for decades, I'm just more realistic on what are politicians are willing to accomplish. I still want to change the world, I'm just better at focusing my efforts where I think they can truly make a difference.
From what I saw of my friend the other day, I think I can safely say the same rings true for her.
There was a time I feared my X had broken me. And maybe for a while, I was. Now, I think we all have stuff in our lives that changes us, even devastates us, but most of us learn to not just put ourselves back together again, but re-shape ourselves to take the falls to come with just a little more grace. And still recognize ourselves in the mirror.