Work with me for a moment. We all have physical scars. (Or maybe just those of us who were cursed with being a serial klutz have proof of our awkward encounters with jeep doors, sidewalks, fire hydrants….) Now find one of your scars and I bet the “how it happened” story is popping into your mind right about….now. My point is, most physical scars remind us of where we’ve been. I still remember cutting the bottom of my foot on coral in Florida. I remember who I was with. I remember the sound of the ocean while we slept in our hotel room. And I learned how strong the oceans undertow really is. Sadly, on the other hand, even some physical scars and their memories can trigger those emotional scars.
The peace of mind that comes with looking at most physical scars caused by being habitually klutzy, or just plain unlucky, comes from simply getting through the pain of the injury. I think about how panicked I was that my foot had bled into the ocean in Florida, how unbelievably freaked out I was that a shark was going to come, and how blessed I was to have been tossed back onto shore, and I laugh. Teenagers are so dramatic, geez. If only all the emotional wounds we endure could heal as quickly as my foot.
These ‘scars from the burning’ are the sometimes deep and intense emotional wounds that are always trying to fully heal but never quite make it there in some cases. Our friend mentioned above now lives day by day with almost constant reminders of the tribulations she has fought through and overcome. And although you cannot see these emotional scars left behind, they are there, under the surface, a constant reminder of the battles. They should be a constant reminder of the strength it took to overcome. But does society, in general, view these scars as a weakness? Is someone with depression weaker than the general masses because they have struggles? Or is it society coddling them that makes them appear, or even act weak?
Going back to my foot for a second, the very first thing my father did was comfort me and tend to my wounds. It’s a parental instinct to take care of your young, to protect the weak. And if we know anything about the circle of life, there are predators out there that can smell the weak. I’m reminded of the scene in Finding Nemo where Dory finds her Squishy. Of course, Squishy turns out to be a very hungry Angler fish. These fish flash their shiny light to lure their victims in. (Those fish obviously didn’t get the memo about avoiding floating glowing orbs of impending doom.) Whether viewed as weak or scarred by the masses, it is most important to learn from these battles we go through. Common sense you would think right?
This is one of those cliché moments where I can truly say “Easier said than done”. With our physical scars we can usually remember two things.
- What were you doing when it happened? (Even if you were trying to imitate something you saw on Jackass I won’t judge.)
- The pain and annoyance of the initial injury and the healing process.
I have been lucky enough to have never broken a vital bone in my body. But let’s say for example sake, Little Johnny is being peer pressured into climbing up onto the roof of his house. So Johnny does it. (dummy) Startled by the sound of the garage door opening, knowing he’s about to be busted by his mom coming home from work, he slips and falls. Through blinding pain he can just barely hear is friends scramble as to not be accountable for little Johnny’s arm, snapped in two. Johnny’s all grown up now. He’s got kids of his own, no immediate roof access from anywhere on his house and the knowledge to pass onto his children about what happens when you fall off a roof. Peer pressure was all fun and games until ‘Little Johnny’s’ humerus popped right through his elbow.
Johnny learned a vital lesson that day….his friends were jackasses. Johnny’s adventure book would read something like this…
“…All of your friends surround you and start chanting your name. You take a quick glance up to see exactly how high the roof is from the ground. Could you survive a fall from such height? Will your friends laugh at you if you chicken out of the dare?…
(Give into peer pressure and climb to the roof turn to page 92)
(Tell your friends to quit being jackasses turn to page 109)”
Just the gap in the pages between option A and B should be a clear indicator that something big is going to go down when you turn to page 92. Unfortunately, our world is not so black and white. If it were, Johnny’s choice would be pretty easy. If choosing to fall into peer pressure only resulted in a broken arm and being grounded, Johnny might not care so much about those consequences. But, what if by choosing option A Johnny would lose his father later that night.
In a rush to make it home to punish him, Johnny’s father was in a head-on collision with a semi-truck. Do you think Johnny will now live with this emotional scar? Do you think he will live with the belief that his actions caused the tragedy of his father’s death?
Looking at the cause and effect of emotional wounds we can notice at least two of the same things we can from physical wounds.
1) What you were doing when it happened.
2) The pain and heart break of the initial injury and the healing process.
But typically, with physical wounds, the healing process takes only a few days or even a few weeks. Then, all you have left is the physical scar. (Of course, with more severe physical injuries like cutting off your thumb, you going to live with lasting consequences.)
With emotional wounds, not only is the healing process typically a whole lot longer, but sometimes, the emotional scars left behind can reopen the wound causing even more emotional pain. (I.e. A woman loses a baby preterm; this kind of loss can cause deep emotional wounds and scarring. And now, every time she is in a store and hears a newborn cry, those wounds break back open and she is reminded of the day she lost her baby, and the pain she has endured since it happened.) This woman’s adventure book seemed harmless.
“…It had been only a few months since you were married. In your heart you know that you want to further your family line but what about all the expenses? Can you marriage last adding a whole new dynamic to it?…”
(Start making a baby with your spouse turn to page 102)
(Decide to wait a year to reproduce turn to page 110)
According to her adventure story, she wanted a baby therefore chose the first option, not knowing how this adventure would end. But what if she had chosen to wait a year to have a child; did page 110 describe the new happy new family? Or was it just as sad as the first option? Sadly, in this story page 110 described the doctor’s visit where our adventurer was told that she would not be able to carry a child full term.
This is one of those “burns” life gives I mentioned earlier. It’s the sad truth that we will all going through some similar form of suffering, pain, and anguish. No matter which choice this woman made, she would get burned. This is where the real choices come into play.
“…You get home after hearing the heartbreaking truth. It has now been medically affirmed that you won’t ever be able to carry full term…
(This isn’t fair, I hate my life, I give up. Turn to page 66)
(Grieve and then start looking into your options. Turn to page 77)”
Unfortunately there are people everyday that decide to end their adventure. It’s something like every 15 minutes someone takes their own life. This woman set out to create a life and instead ended her own. If we focus too much on what we want and not enough on what we need, we can lose sight of ourselves, we can lose sight of the strength we need to overcome life’s trials and tribulations. In that weakness, some, thinking they have no other choice in up making the mistake of suicide. This selfish decision ends up affecting everyone that person cared about. In our adventure book above, our lady could have chosen to grieve and start looking into other options for her wishes of having a baby. With this option her husband and her would have adopted a beautiful baby girl and then gotten pregnant with twin boys, thank you fertility treatment. But because she found no strength and chose to give up, her husband would live the rest of his life, miserable, alone, and blaming himself for his wife’s decision.
All and all, knowing your path is boring. All you can really do is keep your head up high, make a promise to yourself that no matter what, you will never give up. I suppose common sense is the only thing that will ever be able to give us a heads up on the consequences of our actions, and even then, at times, we will fail. But these failures, whether they leave scars or not, are learning opportunities. They are a chance to get stronger and wiser. I face each day with the attitude of whatever comes my way today I will face with strength, knowledge, and bravery. I still have scars, lots of them actually. But now, when I look at these scars I remember when life threw a challenge my way and I fought through. And yes, now I am stronger for it. Everyday a new trial comes my way, and everyday I wake with a smile on my face, ready to take on the world. The strength comes from the battles I have faced, and everyday I will continue to get stronger as I push through life’s tribulations. And this girl doesn’t need an instruction manual. I make my own rules. I’m creating my own life’s adventure book and its going great!