the latest collab for Shadows and Light: scars.
Chicks Dig Scars
the title comes from an album that i spotted, briefly, while glancing over the shelves in a used record store. i couldn't find it again, no matter how hard i looked. but the title stuck with me, and got me to thinking about the relative truth of the statement.
i have a bruise on my left shin, down towards my ankle. it's a bit too low to have been a coffee table or the rail on the side of my bed. it's about an inch across, and an ugly shade of greeny blue, almost black. i have no idea how it got there.
the scars on our emotional landscapes are much like this, i think. words, or a look, then a twinge, and we realize that there has been damage. many times we can put a finger on just that moment when we tripped over the edge of the rug and caught outselves short on the end table. but just as often, those twingey moments catch us unawares.
how is it that we don't see these moments coming, that we aren't aware of what we have lost? are we really so oblivious to the patterns of our own lives?
the answer is as complex as the people involved, it seems to me.
it's human nature to trust, to want to believe the best of others. we open our hearts and give unstintingly of ourselves, trusting that we weill be met halfway. and somehow, we think that the very fact of our caring will smooth away the rough edges on that dangerous boy.
but love is not the pure and simple force we deem it to be, and people do not change merely because we wish it to be so. love is a huge, messy, complicated, difficult emotion, not much given to being tamed. and people are not wax tablets, there for your wishes and dreams to be writ large. they are messy, complicated and diffficult, too.
what starts easily enough as a glance across the bar, chatter over a cup of coffee, sweet phone calls late at night, takes on a life of its own and overwhelms you both.
that same wounded part of him that made him attractive, that brought out the nurse/mother in you, that inspired fierce protective squalls, will be the very thing that drives you apart. he will resent you for thinking that he needed protection. what you see as weakness or a flaw or a scar, he accepts as part of his self. you will feel rebuffed, or belittled - something less than essential to him.
this may happen like a lightening strike, but more likely it will slowly seep in. all those bright shiny emotions will tarnish, maybe even start to rust a bit around the edges. it will happen - and you won't even notice - the place where you felt safe and useful and loved bites you. like a papercut, the scar is small, but it's there.
maybe you end up numb, and the scars pile up. you leave because there's nothing left, or at least nothing that can penetrate. or maybe there's one final blow that leaves you reeling. or maybe a friend makes a casual observation, and it rings so true that all else is drowned out, you are slapped in the face by the pattern that's been there all along and you just haven't seen. whichever one it is, you need to heal. and maybe you try to do that by reopening other, older wounds.
or perhaps none of this is what happened. perhaps, instead, the damage came from what was unspoken, hidden. it never felt like damage. it's just been where you are from. we never have the distance, at least not in the beginning, to see the patterns and cycles in our lives, not really. we adapt and adjust, becoming ourselves. but it's not always clear in reaction to - what.
you stopped asking years ago why you had to climb certain trails, and just learned how to do it. the muscles have built such sense memory of the stones that you are not even aware of answering. then, sometimes, you are given that clear moment. and the next piece of the puzzle, the one you've never even seen the cover for, snicks into place.
you are given the chance to see someone else's answer, and hints as to their question. you are so rusty in the art of dialog that you struggle for a bit, mouth dry and cottony, mind creaking. for a bit, it feels like a fresh wound, to be wrenched out of your less than perfect but still familiar patterns. you're overwhelmed by a sea of emotions and battle to make sense of this new bit of information, understand how it might change who you are, resenting all the while that the rug has been pulled out from under you.
gradually, the pain subsides, and you see that it isn't new. it's been there all along. and it doesn't change who you are. some scars run too deep. instead, the pain becomes a a release. burdens you didn't even know you were carrying lift off your shoulders. the only expectations you now need to meet are your own. and you grow a little compassion, an unexpected event.
all of this is true.
chicks don't dig scars, or at least this one doesn't. the appeal of the dangerous boy, winning the fight on the home front, besting someone in a battle of wits - all of these are lost on me these days. instead, i try to dig down, see what traps i've set for myself repeatedly, and understand why they were there. i believe that we are all given challenges, and that they are the ones we need. i don't begin to claim to understand why i've had the challenges i have, and continue to have. but i hope that turning to face down the pain will help me find the necessary lessons.