Personal Growth: The Scars of a Lifetime
THE PHYSICAL MAP
Sixty-four years will put some wear and tear on a body. I imagine it is possible to live that long and not experience any damage or scars, but for the life of me I cannot fathom it. How does one do that? How does one stumble and tumble, run, leap and fall, without adding a scar or two?
In many ways, a person’s life can be told if one can see the scars and read their individual story.
Are you doubtful? Well then allow me to give you a quick tour of my personal map and we will see if my words are true.
THE EYES SEE
See that scar below my left eye? It’s very feint now, but if you look closely you can see it in the proper light. I got that one in a fight with Todd Mullen in the 4th grade. I have no idea what became of Todd over the years, but I can tell you that back in 1957 he was a pain in the ass. Todd was what is now called a bully; heck, he was called that back then too, and it was well-deserved. Todd was the guy who went around at recess taking lunch money from smaller kids, and if he wasn’t paid he would rub their faces in the cement playground until payment was received.
I became the object of Todd’s attention one sunny day in April of that year; I was informed that I would be expected to pay him fifty cents the next day….or else. Now since Todd was a good six inches taller and thirty pounds heavier, the “or else” phrase was one worth considering.
I went home that day and told my dad about the threat and impending doom, and my dad told me not to pay. But Dad, I said, if I don’t pay I’m going to get the stuffing kicked out of me….yes, he said, but if you do pay you will never see yourself in the same way when you look in the mirror.
Today I look at that scar and I smile; I’m also happy to report that Todd had a similar scar on his right cheek the last time I saw him. I wonder if he smiles when he looks at his scar?
NEXT WE TRAVEL TO MY FINGER
Middle finger, left hand….see it? See that thin line an inch below the fingernail? Almost cut my finger off I did, trimming a hedge while drunk back in 1989. Silly-assed thing to do, and it hurt like a son-of-a-gun, but it happened one month before I declared to myself and the world that I was an alcoholic and my life was unmanageable.
Today I look at that scar as the beginning of the end. Today I look at that scar and realize that it takes what it takes for all of us. Self-destructive behavior will never end without a defining moment where we realize it is time to stop or die. For me that moment came with the tip of my finger hanging on by a sliver of skin, and blood pooling at my feet.
I have no feeling in that finger tip today, but I have a great deal of feeling in my heart. Today I am alive, in part because of that foolish stunt back in 1989.
TO THE SMALL OF MY BACK WE GO
Again to 1989 we go. I had just been served divorce papers, and I was drinking heavily. I needed a job, and a friend of mine had an opening at his lumber yard. I knew nothing about working in a lumber yard, but I was hungry and in need, so I took it.
Six months of tossing lumber around and my back started experiencing pain. I ignored it and kept working; what choice did I have. You suck it up and do whatever you need to do to survive, especially when you have no medical benefits.
One day I couldn’t suck it up any longer; I simply could not get out of bed. Off to the doctor’s office, where we discovered I had a ruptured disk. An operation followed, as did six months of recovery, as did the decision to return to teaching, one of the best decisions I have made.
Sober and without pain I found a teaching position that lasted twelve years; during those twelve years I was chosen three times as one of America’s outstanding teachers.
Today the small incision scar is barely noticeable, but it signifies so much to me. You do what you have to do. You always move forward and you do not give up…..you never give up!
Something to consider
- Self Help: Embrace Who You Are
Trying to be like someone else is a losing proposition, and is destined to end in unhappiness. Celebrate who you are, the rarest of the rare!
Have you learned from your scars?
AN ASSORTMENT OF OTHERS
Yes, there are more. The ragged scar on my right arm from falling through the roof of a rusted car when I was a kid is white and still ugly. The two-incher on the same arm from falling on a beer bottle; the lesson that one taught me is quite obvious.
And then there are the scars nobody can see, for they reside on my heart. Two divorces left some ugly scar tissue, as did the times I hurt others with my words and actions. The scars left by others who found me to be an easy target, or who took my love and tossed it away like so much refuse. So many accumulated during a lifetime, but in truth I hardly notice those any longer.
I have come to realize that we all have scars. They are a part of living, and we can either mourn the disfigurement that they cause, or we can learn lessons from them, for if we listen closely we will hear them speaking to us each and every day.
I find no shame in scars. I find no ugliness in them. Today I can look at my scars and reflect upon a life well-lived. There have been mistakes, but then we all make mistakes. There has been pain, but then we all suffer pain. The body will eventually heal itself. The heart will heal, but it takes a conscious effort to allow it to heal, and I have made that effort.
Yes, my youth has passed, and that is as it should be. I make no effort to hold onto my youth for in truth, life is much better today. I have the scars to prove it.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)