Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Scar

This chapter came right from my heart. From the mommies talking at the grocery store to Rosalie holding Lizzie in her hands, trying to comfort her, trying to tell her that she knew, and that it was okay.

We never made it to 'okay.'

Lizzie wasn't the only one who grew up this way, and at a time when families breaking up were new in America, so the parents had to stay together until the kids left the home for college to avoid stigmatizing their children, so the children felt that separation, that breaking, ...

and you couldn't do anything about it.

And then they didn't wait, and so my kid sister ...

So she had to be strong, and the funny thing is that she's the most complete, most no-nonsense person in our fractured family, but she didn't have a happy childhood, at all. Ever.

And, well, me.

I identify with Lizzie here, too.

But I didn't have a Rosalie to tell me any of this, not until today, or when I wrote the second half of this chapter. And I didn't have a Rosalie to hold me and to understand.

So, I just broke, all by myself, right in my third week of flight school.

I so wanted to fly, well, anything in the Coast Guard, and I was there already. I was flying planes.

And then my career was over. Right then. Right that day. All they had to do was have the paperwork catch up with me, which took about two years, it being the military.

So I had to go do something else.

And here I am, 25 years later, doing something else.

Something else is nice.

But it's something else, and if I were flying jets or helicopters, rescuing people out of the Arctic Ocean, would I've been happy? I've saved over 150 people's lives north of Alaska and then rescued at least three teens crossing the border to and from Mexico.

Am I happy because of that?

Lizzie was scarred, and she didn't even realize it until Rosalie pointed it out.

The thing about being scarred? You did the dishes before, you'll do the dish afterward.

Now you know you have a scar there, somewhere there, while you're doing the dishes.

And you can pick at it, scratch at it, or you can pretend it's not there. Nobody else sees it, nobody else cares, so, actually, it must not be there, right? It all happened in the past. And the 'it' was nothing, it was just your parents raising you, as the best they could, and look! you turned out well! Success!

It was nothing, and nobody else sees and nobody else cares, not really. Life goes on, and so must you, mustn't you?

So you can pretend it isn't there, right? It's healed and you're fine. Scar tissue heals, right?

Actually, it doesn't. A scar is a scar, and it either stays or it leaves its mark on you. That little knock you got running into the table's corner when you were a baby? It's still there, ten, twenty, fifty years later. Nobody else 'sees' it, but you still see the bump, and you still rub it, sometimes, remembering.

So, not knowing it's there, pretending it's not there. The road to happiness? Ignorance is bliss, right?

Except that it is there, and it affects everything you say, and everything you do.

So, acknowledging it? "I have a scar. I had this happen when I was a kid. It happened then. But I still remember it. I still feel it, if I think about it, and when I don't think about it, ... I still feel it. I still hunch my shoulders that way. I still look down, or look away, or blush, or cry, and I didn't know why. But now I do know why."

Is that worse, acknowledging it?

It feels worse, so it must be worse. So let's pretend that I don't know it's there, and see if I can get by with that.

Yup. I can get by.

Look at me, Mommy, I'm getting by! I'm all grown up now. Aren't you proud?

Yes, this was a really, really easy chapter for me to write.

All I had to do was to be just a little tiny bit honest with myself.

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