When I was 22, I moved into my first apartment without any roommates. It was a tiny studio apartment but it was mine and mine only. I went to Ikea and bought furniture. The tiny apartment was filled with boxes so I moved everything to one corner, took the box for the closet and started building it. Like that, I’d be able to put a bunch of stuff in the closet and clear up space.
I was almost done but after a day full of shopping for furniture (not my cup of tea), driving back and forth and moving boxes, I was starting to get tired. I did something stupid and managed to cut my thumb. Big deal! Right. Except that this cut was straight down right next to the bone, so almost in the middle of my thumb. How far down? About half an inch. Ah. Painful. And bloody. Let me tell you, fingers bleed. A lot.
I went to the doctor (and that story was funny about my journey there but we’ll leave it for another time, I’ll just say that it includes my pants dropping in the middle of the street showing everyone in the street that I had no underwear and a kind soul pulling my pants back up and making sure they would hold). The nurse took me in to see what it was all about first and to assess the situation. I had been holding my thumb so tight that I had essentially “glued” it back together.
Nurse: What’s the problem? Your thumb looks fine.
Me: It’s cut in the middle.
Nurse: Ok, I’ll let water run over it and we’ll see how bad it really is.
Water running on the thumb unsticks both halves and the “smaller half” falls at a 90 degree angle from the rest of the thumb.
Nurse: Ah. Yeah. Now I see the problem. Let me get the doctor.
The doctor came, took a look and did an incredible job fixing it. She stitched it back together using material they use in plastic surgeries since that leaves a much nicer scar. For a long while my thumb looked really bad. It looked as though it would be deformed forever. But little by little, it started to look better. Today, unless I tell you or your looking really really closely, you probably would not notice the scar.
But I feel it. I can’t explain if it feels a bit more numb or if it just feels wrong but it’s an uncomfortable feeling. And on some days it just really hurts. But it’s my thumb, so I hide the pain and discomfort well because there’s nothing else I can do.
And unless you know the story about my thumb, you wouldn’t ever know there’s a problem. You might see me wince, or massage it once in a while but you probably would only think “weird” and let your mind continue it’s thoughts.
When I think about the day I cut my thumb, I can feel the pain again. It’s as though my thumb knows I’m thinking about that day it got cut in half. But I also remember the funny things that happened that day and those make me smile and even laugh.
You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this story about my thumb’s worst injury.
The story is 100% true literally. But it’s also a metaphor.
Over the course of my life I have lost more people than I care to think about. The list includes my father when I was young, my best friend, aunt, uncle, a childhood friend and a bunch of other people who though not as close as the ones just mentioned, still count of course. Let me add that my best friend was buried on the date my father died – so that is a fun day for me every year. I have recounted only the humans since I know most people don’t understand the relationship that can be had with animals.
Just like my thumb, the pain of each one separately and together is horrible and excruciating. Most days, the pain is inside and it’s a mix of pain and numbness. From the outside it might seem like I’m maybe a bit off but hey, everyone in the world is a bit off. Did I just give you a look that you couldn’t understand? You probably think it was a weird one off. Because you’re not seeing that inside there’s something that is always a bit off. And this is every day. On some days, the pain has me either completely numb or almost paralysed.
But if you’re looking at me, none of this would be obvious. You’d think I simply have some quirks (and I do have many quirks completely unrelated to this) but you’d never know that I’d been ripped apart multiple times and somehow stitched back together. Just like with my thumb that looks a bit off but you’d never guess at how bad it was.
It took me very long to get to this point and the truth is there is still a lot of work for me to be well. And I don’t even know if I ever will be well. But at least I’m ok. And for years that was not the case.
Why am I sharing this with you.
For a few reasons.
First, I want you to know that if you too have experienced something traumatic, it can be better. We will never be like before but we can be good. We can live, laugh, love and everything else that life has to offer.
Second, always remember that we have no idea what people have gone through in their lives. The least we can do for them is not judge. And for yourself too. Because by judging you could be pushing away someone who could add a lot to your life.
Third, everything I share on this site is what I have used in the past and continue to use to help me lead the best life I can despite these scars – both physical, mental and emotional. There is nothing that is here just because it might look good and there is nothing here that I do not stand behind completely. Not everything that I share will be pertinent to you nor will it all resound with you but feel free to pick apart everything and choose what will help you best.