This past weekend, I spent an evening with my friend, Mgli.  About thirteen years ago, Mgli and I (and our friend who I always called Sunshine) were inseparable.  We worked together at the BC Legislature as interns (not nearly as exciting as internship in the US, I must say), we socialized together, we partied together.  Pretty much every day.  And when Sunshine’s partner, AP, joined us, it was the four of us who played pool and drank and had philosophical conversations at our favourite pub.

At any rate, it’s been a few years since I saw Mgli.  He was in town last weekend, and we went for dinner and wine and conversation.  And I have to say, it felt pretty much like we’d just talked yesterday, except I knew it had been far, far too long.

One of the important things we talked about was how I seemed to him.  He knew me during the time of my life that I look back at longingly, wishing I could recreate how I felt back them.  He was there when I started law school, when I got involved with an older lawyer at the firm I worked at.  He wasn’t there when I had my massive, all-encompassing breakdown, but by then I’d pretty much isolated myself in favour of being with (secretly, or at least we were trying) the lawyer I worked for.  I have no cute nickname for that man;  for now I will just call him TB, short for The Bastard.

Anyway, Mgli was there when I started to fall apart.  The really great thing he told me last Saturday night at dinner is that he can see me coming back together.  And that the me from back then, the part of myself that I thought maybe I’d lost, is still here.  To hear that, I felt my heart move, just a little bit.

I have been thinking a lot about what he said, and why it meant so much to me.  Here’s what I’ve come up with.  When I moved to Victoria to become an intern (again, nowhere near as interesting as congressional internship), it was the first time I’d lived on my own.  When I was in college for my BA, I lived with my parents while I went to school in my home town.  Not only was I living on my own for the first time, but I was on my own in Victoria, far from the eyes of my mother.  I think in a lot of ways, I discovered who I was when I was there.  I certainly think that I became more of myself, if that makes any sense.  Things that I didn’t allow myself to do or feel while I lived “at home”, things that I suppressed about who I am, finally emerged.

(And I don’t mean anything deep and dark by that.  I did a lot of rebelling against how I grew up, primarily by drinking myself stupid almost every day.  In my mother’s home, I was always the good girl, the one who followed all the rules.  The one to whom the worst possible consequence was my mother’s disappointment in me.  My teenage rebellion was almost a decade late, I think, and partying and staying out all night were a big part of the first few years in Victoria.  All in all, not a very wild rebellion, but it certainly felt like one to me.)

So I moved to Victoria, and felt free to become more authentically who I was.  Then my mind broke, my mother came to get me, and eventually brought me back home.  (It is now 8.5 years later, and I’m still working on it.)  But no one around me here knew me as I was in Victoria.  That part of my personality is, I think, unknown to many of them, because they knew me before I left home, and they’ve known me since I’ve returned.  At least, that’s the way I’ve felt, that they didn’t know that part of me.

And to hear from someone that knew that part of me before, and can see it in me after, really touched my heart.  I think that I don’t recognize that part of me since my breakdown, because I honestly thought she wasn’t here anymore.  For Mgli to see her, and let me know that she’s still alive and kicking with the rest of me, was so important that I can’t even adequately form the words to say it.

I also realized that my life is kind of chopped up into segments:  before Victoria, Victoria, and after.  And the people closest to me each belong to one of those segments, and few have really crossed those borders.  Sure, my Victoria people and I keep in touch sporadically, and I know that there are a number of them that still love me just as much as I still love them.  But we’re not present in each other’s lives anymore.  And I feel that loss.

And the thing that strikes me most at the moment about what Mgli said is that it gives me perspective.  Perspective that could only come from someone who was there before in Victoria, and is here after.  And it also gives me a point of view that I have lost, lost in the minutiae of depression and anxiety, of deep darkness and recovery and return to darkness and recovery again.  A point of view that is not obscured by my self-absorption in my disease, and one that I need to cultivate.

So thank you, Mgli.  The time with you was a great gift, and the things you said are helping me move along the way to wherever it is I will end up when I finish my journey.

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