This week on Facebook, the world has been doing a little time travel through profile pics, by posting an image of themselves from way back. Some have posted baby photos, others horrors of the seventies and eighties with feathered mile-high bangs and wretched polyester outfits. I decided to play along, since I needed to rev up my rarely-used scanner for some nursing school documents.
I shuffled through a box of photos under my bed and found some that were indeed a bit horrific...but this is the one that I was looking for in particular. The reason I was looking for this photo is not that it accurately captures how I actually looked when I was about 11 years old (though my family would say it does), but because it captures how I remember myself during the time that my childhood memories are full, bright and relatively accurate and complete. I was old enough to really remember myself and my world. And this is how I remember myself.
If I really scrutinize the photo, it's the eyes that reach out to grown-up Katie. My eyes are the same. Not just the shape and color, but what they say and how they express. Little Katie in this photo looks at me, and gives me what I seem to be searching for these days in my life: someone to see me...to hear me...to understand me; to look past the trappings of the exterior and to see inside me with emotional and intellectual x-ray vision. When I look at this photo, the girl looking back gets me. She's looking out with love. You can tell that she loves the person she's looking at. Twenty-five years ago, when the image was snapped, it was her mother. Today, she's loving her grown-up self...a self that could use a little of it right now.
It's a good lesson, I guess. Perhaps what I'm searching for is not out in the great unknown. Maybe I'm looking too far. Maybe, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I should be looking in my own back yard. In a way, it's comforting. If it can be enough that I get myself, understand myself, hear myself...then I don't have to depend upon someone else to fill that space. Then, when I run across people who can also see me as I want to be seen, and love me how I want to be loved, then it's just serendipity. It's a worthy goal: to be able to be whole and happy with your own self-love and understanding. Not an easy one, but a worthy one. And I'm not one to back down from a challenge.