I am doing something today that I never thought I would do. I am going to share a very open, emotionally raw conversation I had with a photograph of myself, taken when I was 12. I wrote this conversation as a form of therapy. I wanted to acknowledge feelings of pain and loss in a safe environment. But I am just now realizing that I am living life too safely. I am not allowing people to get to know ME … I only allow those around me to get the fabricated strong, sometimes bitchy, version of who I am. I feel as if I should apologize to those that will be uncomfortable with this post and most likely with some of my future posts. But I can’t be sorry for being myself. I am not perfect — not even close. I don’t always make the wisest decisions. I sometimes hurt the people I love the most. I am not always emotionally present in my children’s lives. I often pull away from close friendships in an attempt to protect my heart and this 12-year old girl you are about to meet. But maybe if I begin to open up, you will understand me better. It doesn’t mean you will like me more (if at all) — but at least you can base your feelings for me on the truth.
*In June 1985, I was in a car accident along with a very amazing woman and several courageous girls. To those that were there that day — I hope this doesn’t upset you. That is not my intention at all. I value the friendships that have endured this trauma as well as all the years in between.
Me: I can’t believe I’m actually talking to a photo of myself.
Photo: Why not? You always talk to yourself in your head.
Me: But this is different. I’m talking to a 12 year old me. I don’t converse well with children.
Photo: That’s nothing new. You always preferred to talk to adults, even as a child.
Me: It’s hard looking at the picture, you know? So many bad memories, so much sadness, a lot of anger.
Photo: How do you think I feel? You’ve grown up, found a new life. I’m stuck in this pained, scarred, bleeding body.
Me: You are awfully brave, though. You have so much strength.
Photo: You’ve got a really bad memory.
Me: No, hindsight is 20/20. The strength you possess has really carried me through some tough times as an adult. If you weren’t suffering, then I would have never been able to become the person I am.
Photo: But you still have problems – problems that you blame on this accident.
Me: I do. I have a lot of bitterness about being abandoned by the church and not having any close friends that stuck with me through that trauma. But I want to know what you’re feeling.
Photo: I hurt … all over. Every breath I take feels as if my ribs are splintering through my skin. My head is constantly throbbing and itching from the scabs. And I want to take these wire cutters and snip the wires between my teeth so I can open my mouth and EAT. I just want a French fry. And chocolate cake. And maybe a little steak. I don’t want to look like a freak show. And this horrible figure 8 brace. If only I could figure out a way to shred it so I can sit hunched over and hold my stomach and sides and give myself some comfort. I’m not finding comfort from a friend that is for sure. Are kids staying away because they don’t care or because their parents don’t want them to see how horrible I look? The swelling is finally going down in my face – it’s no longer the size of a basketball. But the road rash is so disgusting. Mom is picking pieces of glass out of my skin several times a day. I can also smell the blood and oozing from the scars on my ear and face. I truly do feel like a freak. It does get better, right?
Me: Yes, it does. I mean, I have always doubted my beauty since the accident, but I’ve been told all females go through that. Dr. Peacock once told me that even the most beautiful women find flaws in their faces and bodies – that is how he became a very successful plastic surgeon. Again, without what you are going through now — I wouldn’t be so lucky today.
Me: So, have you had your 30 minutes of pity time today?
Photo: So what if I have? Like 30 minutes is enough time for a 12 year old to grieve for her old life back? To make peace with not having any friends here supporting me? For losing my dreams? So yeah – I’ve probably had 2 hrs. of pity time today so far. But what Mom doesn’t know, won’t hurt her.
Me: I guess I should tell you now that the limited and dwindling pity time does you no favors in the future. It just teaches you to put on a mask around others and pretend that life is “just fine” when we know we’re drowning with no life preserver in sight on the inside. If I decide to write about you, what do you want everyone to know?
Photo: That having years of reconstructive surgery SUCKS! And I am so sick of hearing, “This happened for a reason. God has a plan for you.” Or even better, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle!” I know people mean well, but seriously, those words mean nothing right now.