I’ve had this weird little sample of perfume in a vial since I was probably 10. It still holds remnants of its original smell although quite aged. It has survived an entire childhood, teen years, young adulthood, and four moves. I don’t know the full reason I hold onto it. But it does remind me of something. When I was a kid I was alone a lot. I learned about control and loss and using control to avoid loss early on. I sought security in things even though I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. So I have a lifetime of things that I’ve accumulated that I don’t know how to make peace with, but they evoke a certain memory. See, this perfume vial came from one particular sleepover out of countless with my best friend at the time. Once we reached a certain age, our sleepovers consisted of looking at different teen magazines and they used to offer this thing where you mailed in a request for free samples whether it was perfume or makeup and we always felt so grown up about it.
A few years later, I turned on that friend. I didn’t do it consciously, but given the opportunity I found out I didn’t want trouble (and I didn’t want to cause trouble for my family) so I let her hang on the hook for something we both did. This moment stands out because it was pivotal for me. I saw how much I hurt her and I honestly didn’t think I could ever go back and fix it. I know now it was stupid adolescent stuff and I should have just told my family the truth, but it was a big deal to me then. My “image” was a big deal to me and I was heavy into being the “perfect child” at that time. It doesn’t excuse it—and I have NEVER done anything like that since. In fact, I went hard the other direction and take blame for shit I’m not even involved in. But I have carried the guilt since. Even the parts of the story I HAVE reconciled, I still find my mind repeating it.
In the end, I think I hold onto this thing because it reminds me of a time when things were so good, so easy, and life just flowed. I have never hidden the fact that I was very fortunate as a child in spite of learning some messed up survival tactics, and I miss those days when a smile was really a smile, when the most I had to think of was homework and who I was going to sit next to. Maybe that’s something to dive into later, I don’t know. I miss the days of knowing who friends really are and feeling that unconditional support and giving it back. And I hate the story after that because it didn’t have to be that way. Although I will acknowledge that if the universe didn’t want it to go that way, it wouldn’t have. Regardless, it’s important to remember how certain things trigger us.
Maybe some day I will be able to throw it out. I actually still talk to my friend. I’ve never told her the inner turmoil because that is mine to carry. Part of me wants to tell her in an effort to remind her that I know what I did was wrong and that her friendship meant more to me than she will ever know. That I made a stupid mistake. And on some level maybe I keep it for me. To learn to let go of the stupid mistake I made. We’ve grown, we are still in touch, we have kids of our own now. I can be a good friend to her now. And maybe I can forgive myself and stop making myself pay for things over and over again. It doesn’t need to be a scar, it can be an awesome memory of times we had and we can measure how far we’ve come. And part of that growth is letting go of the hurt. It’s firmly knowing who we are now, really knowing who we are period. And letting the rest fall into place from there.