December 10th: Scars: They leave marks, and sometimes you can only take what you can carry. What will you, by choice or by chance, carry into 2013?
About a year ago, I had a really nasty case of shingles.
At first, I thought I was just stressed-out, and run-down, and having the worst back pain of my life. As it turned out, no, I was covered in a hideous rash, on the week of my first wedding anniversary as a legal divorcee, the weekend an old friend was coming to town.
It was…not my finest hour.
I’d had chicken pox as a kid, and I’d had them pretty bad — I can still pinpoint some of the scars on my legs and chest; individual white specks where the shadows of disease remain. Then again, I have very pale skin, and I am (admittedly) prone to digging out what itches or ails me instead of sitting through the discomfort. So that I would have scars from that era is…unsurprising.
But in my early thirties, I added to those scars a collection from the shingles flare: a constellation of blots that covered my upper right thigh and lower back.
For a while, the marks were quite noticeable. Now, less so, but still — they are there.
There is no glory in them; I didn’t come by these scars by an athletic feat or because of some act of bravery. I am stuck with them because I was run down; because my body attacked itself; because I virus I picked up when I was a toddler reactivated in my weakened immune system.
I am marked; the marks are mine.
But they’ve made me more patient with myself.
They’ve made me more accepting of things I didn’t choose and stuff — metaphorical and physical — that is outside of my control, but that impacts me.
Like it or not, this milkyway of little scars comes with me — again — into the new year. And strangely enough, as it fades, little by little, I am coming to accept it (and me) a bit more.