Wednesday, October 27, 2010

someone once said that scars are the roadmap to the soul...

Every scar tells a story, reveals a past adventure, a past heartache, and a past memory. Some people scar more easily than others, but one thing thing remains true about scars, no matter how big or small. They're there forever.

I used to be ashamed of my scars. I used to try to hide them, or make up stories about why they're all over my arm, my ankles, my hips. And I guess now people only see the ones that line my arms, not the burns on my leg, my hand, or the scars I have from picking old wounds. I may not directly lie about where my scars come from more story about a burn from the bakery I worked at, or some cat scratching me. I mean, come on, was that every really believable? Do cats really have 6 claws that are parallel to each other? No.

Now when someone asks, I just look down at them, cover them up a bit, as if to hide the person from the bitter truth for one more instant, and then glance up at them for a moment and say, "They're really old scars." And then I change the subject. Okay, so that's not really telling the truth, but it's better than directly lying to their face, right? Every scar may tell a story, and since I wear mine very visibly, I guess I can't knock the people who demand to know the story. But why is it I'm so afraid to tell them? Why am I afraid to tell my best friends, my teammates, my family members, what I've done to myself?

Sure, there's only a handful of people who know exactly what I've been through, who were witnesses to what I suffered growing up. But there have also been people I've met that don't care what I've been through, who see it in my eyes that I've been hurt, and who probably only wish to hear the truth about where I've come from and what's brought me here. Yet I still run away from them. I try to run from my own story, one I have written for years, memorized it down to the very last facial detail and muttered last words. It's a story I don't like to tell very often, one that wipes the smile from my face each time. One that turns my eyes glassy as I turn away to conceal the tears. It's not all bad, of course, but most of it explains why I've become the person I am-- why I'm freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. A lot of it also explains my attachment to people, my fear of them betraying me, leaving me, or just plain physically hurting me. And parts of the story reveal my peaceful side, my need for human love and devotion, and my heartfelt wish to make everyone around me as happy as can be.

But why can't I just make myself happy? I go through these phases every once in a while. Phases of feeling self-worth, pure happiness with the world around me, and this hop in my step that can't be overturned. And then, darkness falls. A feeling of anxiety rushes in that can't be stopped. It attacks my body from the inside out. First, it devours my stomach, leaving me feeling sick and curled in a ball. Then my breathing rate rises and won't be lowered for anything. Tears start to burn my eyes and the smile fades away into a grey frown. And that physical state stays in place until someone, or something can shake me out of it. And I must say, as the years add up, it has become harder and harder for people and things to get me out of this state.

One thing I can always reflect on in that state of mind is my arm, or my leg, or my hip. A constant reminder of where I've been, and where I don't want to end up again. A few strokes of those tale-telling scars and I'm ready to try to smile once more.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

That was a Sunday sign of Fate.

A few weeks ago while reading at the pool, I saw a father playing with a few of the kids at the apartment complex. Between sessions of tossing them into the pool, he would stop at read a few papers. With a red pen in his hand, I figured he was grading papers so he must be some kind of teacher or professor. The table he sat at provided him with the just the right amount of shade to clearly see his work, while giving his back a nice tan.

This morning I was the first person at the pool so I set up shop at the same table to warm my back with the sun's mid-morningh rays. The neighbor behind me had some kind of mix playing in his apartment, so music wasn't needed. He's the hippie who steps out on his porch every morning to chat with his plants while his wife makes a pot of coffee for them to enjoy later on.

So I set off and worked on my teaching assignments. Powering through my field notes, I watched as the complex slowly woke up. Enjoying my cup of coffee and Pandora music mix, I showed no mercy in my observational write-up. As I finished my assignment, I heard a somewhat familiar voice behind me say, "Good morning!" as the gate opened up. I turned around and realized the voice was probably directed at me, since no one else was at the pool. So I responded with a, "Good morning, how are you doing?" and recognized the face. It was the same father from a few weeks ago, this time leading his son to the other side of the pool deck, with their bikes at the ready for an adventure.

He stopped for a minute as I asked him if he was a teacher of some kind because I thought I noticed he was grading papers a few weeks back. He told me he was a chemistry and physics teacher at a local high school. "You seem like you're hard at work," he said to me as I muted Pandora to further inquire about his profession. His son was now a few steps ahead of him so I told him I wouldn't delay his day but I'd like to sit down and talk to him about his profession one day, as I had just begun my work at a middle school for UM.

Chris, my neighbor caddy corner to me, just across the pool-- a high school teacher who spends time with his kids every weekend despite having constant papers to grade. If me sitting at this very table, on this very morning, working on my future teaching career as he steps out with his son, isn't some kind of sign for my future profession, then I don't know what is.

I've struggled with seeing signs lately, constantly wondering if my belief system is just a crock of hippie wishful thinking. But I don't think it is, and this was an oddly refreshing interaction. And if all it does is improve this one hour of time for me, that'd be enough.