I banged my arm hard the other night at my dad's while everyone was watching TV in the dark. The space between the couch and the gargantuan entertainment center (the latter of which can probably be seen from outer space) is hard to navigate unscathed in bright light nevermind in the blue flicker of a 50" LCD TV playing Alien, a film not known for its moments of blinding sunshine.
Normally, when I get a boo-boo I'm uncharacteristically silent except for ahhing over the crown of Tweetie-Birds circling my head but this one took my breath away and I stumbled back to my seat and held my arm rocking and panting in pain, crying. And.....much to my surprise everyone came running.
Now, this isn't something I'm accustomed to. I'm the runner. I'm the temperature checker and shoulder rubber. You'll find me in the bathroom rummaging through the medicine cabinet for Tylenol and antibiotic cream, tearing apart my purse for a cough drop or looking for a bag of frozen peas to use as an impromptu ice pack before you'll hear a peep out of me that I'm injured.
In fact, I often push people off saying, 'don't worry about me. I'm fine. I'm fine.' when I'm very clearly not. In spite of my obvious need for attention (blog anyone?) it makes me uncomfortable when the focus of concern is on me which is ironic because there is nothing more I would like than to be enfolded in someone's arms soothing, 'It's okay. It's okay."
I watched as people leaned over me and examined my large immediate and very black bruise and its nasty centerpiece of a 3" long cut which began to enthusiastically drip blood. Alcohol was found and administered (oh how I danced) and a honorable effort was made to stave the flow of blood with a cartoon character band-aid (comical but useless) the only bandage in the house, unless we were going to start tearing towels into strips and begin boiling water in earnest a la Gone With The Wind. Thank God no knowledge of baby birthin' was needed for this motley crew of well intended relatives because mother and child would certainly have been lost in the heroic effort. I insisted a trip to the ER was more melodramatic than necessary. We celebrated the successful procedure with pumpkin custard pie.
The following day I sat up in bed and examined my sore arm closely. I gingerly tore off the Dora the Explorer band-aid which due to its size was also attached to the injury and when I looked at it I instantly regretted it and almost threw up. I've had cuts and bruises before but in the morning illumination of the skylight above it looked even to my 'been there, done that, has the hospital bills to show for it' sensibilities like I'd lost a cage match with the entertainment center. I wondered if I need to go to the doctor to have it looked it. A bad bout with a staph infection years ago left the possibility open that I might be colonized and vulnerable to re-infection but I cleaned it instead (I didn't look) and covered it with a more appropriate Hello Kitty band-aid and went on with the rest of the day, forgetting about it except for the occasional bump or jostle. Then, I'd whimper or gasp but got over it and before I knew it, shockingly the cut began to very quickly heal and the bruise turned yellow and faded. I think it had something to do with taking care of it right away. It had to because I was normally lax and blase' about taking care of scrapes and bumps.
Recently, I had an injury of another kind and it too took my breath away. I cried and my friends came running, some in person and some online. I tried as was my habit to push them off and say everything was okay but they didn't buy it, none of them. They all said..'NO, you're NOT fine' and all in their own special unselfish way came to my side. One reminded me of a similar experience she had and was coming out of so I could see that it would be all right. Another reminded me that my worth wasn't defined by anyone else's opinion of me and that other people's issues didn't have to be my own. One just held my hand, fed me and told me I was wonderful and beautiful. Another said she knew me from childhood, who knew me better than her and to stop the nonsense. I was lovable. I am lovable and to get back to myself. Another asked me for advice on a subject close to her heart and didn't even realize what a great necessary distraction that was for me, or maybe she did. The newest friend made me laugh by sending me pics of himself telling me he still loved me, writing a fictitious final act to a difficult play and sending me lyrics to songs he wrote. He'd even check in on me with a cartoon before he'd leave for work or go to bed. All bandages for my heart boo-boo. All first class first aid.
And like that ugly wound on my arm, I began to feel lighter and better much quicker than I expected. I realized that when I needed help it was okay to ask for it and if I was too proud to ask, at least accept when it's offered. I also learned during this time that sometimes the best way to heal, is to help someone else and that it can bond people because suffering and sorrow is universal. It also makes us much stronger and able to reach out to the next person.
The wound is still there. And so is the one on my arm. But it's fading. They both are. What stays is the love administered when I was in pain and that's something that won't ever fade away.