Friday, February 03, 2006

Scar Tissue

"You asked me if I have scars? Yessir, I have my scars."
Bill Roberts "Young Guns 2"

This is a little heavy but please bear with me:

It was a month before my second birthday and my mother and I were at my grandmother's bungalow, for a social call. Mum and gran were busy chatting over a cup of tea, whereas I was wandering around exploring and playing like toddlers do.

Suddenly there was a crashing sound and the terrible noise of a child screaming in agony. Mum had taken her eyes off of me for 1 second... a single second; but sometimes a single second is all it takes. I had managed to stray into the kitchen and tipped hot tea on myself. The ambulance was called, I was rushed to hospital and treated for liquid burns to my chest, left forearm and chin. The damage had begun to scab over, but I am told that it was not healing in a correct manner and so the medical staff removed the scabbing and dressed the burns again.

I have no physical memory of this event.

Nor do I have any memory of the countless times following my injury that a district nurse would come round and replace my dressings, while dad locked our normally placid labrador "Saber" in the kitchen in an attempt to stop him from savagely "protecting me" from the woman who always made me cry.

Before these events, I was an outgoing adventurous little boy - I walked and I talked pretty early on in my development... but all that was taken away, the day my accident happened. I had to learn all over again... but this time my nature had changed - I had become very introverted. The doctor told my mother this was not unusual - my confidence was robbed and I was a lot more fearful of consequence. All of this information about my past comes from my mum and dad.

Curiously as I grew up the scars on my chest and arm never bothered me (the one on my chin healed completely), it was only after I had gone through puberty and was at college... and really for the first time became seriously interested in girls, that I suddenly became aware of this blight on my body. Since that time I do my best to stay covered up, I don't walk round in warm weather without a t-shirt on. I take great care to make sure nobody is around when I get changed... and I never go swimming.

Those scars are not the deepest ones... look at those and you look merely at the tip of a large iceberg. Those physical injuries left much deeper, more subtle emotional and psychological injuries. I had picked up a whole load of insecurities and as I grew up, I learned various defences and protective measures that were not good for me. I learned if I played the fool I could keep people at a distance, that I could limit how near they got to me. It was incredibly succesful - I played the world for a fool and got away with it. A friend the other day best described my former attitude by using a Simon & Garfunkel song:

A winter's day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
Don't talk of love,
But I've heard the words before;
It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

It's lies of course.

If you are a rock you feel the deepest pain - loneliness. Someone forged the famous saying that "no man is an island". That man did not know me. I kept everyone on the outside and the scary thing is that they probably never knew it. If anyone was worthwhile I guess I figured they would be able to fight their way into my little enchanted castle. That's not a fair burden to put on people... and if you do, they won't understand what game you are playing and will turn away anyway. They will see the fool on the surface but will not perceive the true person inside.

Gradually as I have walked the line of my personal faith in Christ... he has set me free from the desire to lock myself away in the darkest cuboard. Nowadays I don't live there, but when I am hurt I still run away and hide inside it. Still to this day many people from my past are poisoned by their former attitude to me - and fail to grasp who I am. I am suspicious of many people around me who have "known" me a long time, some of them don't seem to have my best interests at heart.

These things seem pretty much like curses and they need to be broken.

I genuinely want to start challenging the damage that has been done. God didn't design me to be insecure or introverted! When I was born I was a risk taker, I was an extrovert by design. Do you have any idea what it is like to be an extrovert trapped in the body of an introvert? The nearest parallel I can think of is that bit in Robocop where, the hero goes to arrest an official but a mysterious directive blocks him and starts to shut him down. That's what it is like - having some kind of reflex action preventing you from taking even the safest of gambles. I want done with it! I want to be free from the eternal debating that goes on in my mind of what every possible action, reaction and consequence will evolve from my decisions. I want to go out there and be what I'm meant to be - what I know I'm best at... being the man who is not afraid to step out of line for my own personal goals or God's greater glory.

I want to have the courage to just walk up to a girl and strike up a conversation without fear of what may come of it.

I want to step forward in confidence with the things I know... proclaim them and make them known to the people around me for God.

I want to be a little less conscienscous. Not in a bad way - I just don't want to be a doormat anymore. I don't want to run the risk of committing myself to a relationship that is bad for me just because I'm afraid of hurting the other persons feelings. I'm no good to anyone when all my time is taken over one person.

Perhaps it's a little late for New Year's Resolutions... and I'm painfullly aware of the fact I don't even know where to start; but start I must - I can't keep deferring my life. All I know is that I have to trust that God will unlock the necessary doors given time... and I must trust Him. Maybe I can start by reminding myself of some words from a favourite hymn:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
'Tis Grace hath brought me safe thus far
And Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
I'd trust the reliability of God's shield over my personal psychological armour any day. The big question is, do I really have the wisdom to choose it?

Do you?

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