Tag Archives: scars

on scars and the transience of memory

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I’m reading PAX this morning. I was laying on our adopted brown couch, on its chaise lounge protrusion, reading with my feet tucked into the cat’s underbelly for warmth. When she got up I stayed, until the rain started pelting so hard that it broke my concentration. I got up to look through the window, at the dense streams of rain coming down so hard they bounced back from the pavement in white flashes, like nails. When it rains this hard, our sloped street looks like a rushing creek, the bands of water so deep that they reach to mid-sole level of a pair of regular sneakers. That’s as high as the Santa Ana river runs some days.

My writing mentor from the TWSO program says that she senses that there is a lot of great material to mine from my childhood experiences. I think she must mean the parts about growing up in an immigrant family. When I peer back through the telescope of memory, everything is tangled. The timeline is scarred together like layers of puckered muscle adhered into place onto organ, bone, where it was cross-sectioned, stuck together where it doesn’t belong.

The news since last week has been ripping away at one of these. The Jian Ghomeshi trial has brought up many things I wanted to let rest in the darkness where I’d buried them. I realize now that this exhumation initially began when women started coming out of the woodwork of his past, infiltrating the news with their experiences.

How muddled things become with the passage of time. A lived experience that some of us have denied even ourselves the whole truth about, the details so humiliating that we want to disown them. The ones that made us fear for our lives – the too tight grip, the punches that left no marks, the switchblade that was unsheathed with the push of a thumb on a button – those are embedded with crystal clarity. The rest – how we got into the predicament, how we became compliant, before or after, just so that we can retain some sense of a normal that over the course of our lives has become skewed – those things we push away into forgetfulness. A normal that we have come to accept but that is far from what the definition of it actually means. We want to disown this dissonance.

I stood trial for the “event” – I say this only mildly facetiously, because though I was a witness, I was treated like a defendant, attempting to defend an honour that was up to the most vicious scrutiny – that culminated in what would be a forced sexual act. I feared for my life. I complied. I walked away with only my winter coat and boots (because I grasped onto them as I locked myself into the tiny bathroom of the motel room to which he had brought me for what I thought was a transaction to obtain a gram of blow). I did what I did to stay alive. He took the little that was left of my self-esteem and every other material possession that I had walked into that room with, and left me with a threat to keep my silence.

I was already a bad girl, by societal norms. I smoked pot or hash daily, worked as a nude dancer in a club in a part of town that was considered less than savoury. I was nineteen and excruciatingly naive but thought I was the opposite. I was sheltered against most everything growing up, except for discipline. That was meted out with brutal regularity. It had softened the lines between love, pain, hate, respect. I wanted out from beneath the thumb that pushed down on me, that didn’t care to listen to who I was, didn’t want to understand me or find the best way to reach me across the chasm of culture and generation gap.

I left home on my eighteenth birthday to join an ashram, convinced that in Vedic philosophy I would find explanations. At this juncture, I just wanted to find a way to understand a world that made no sense to me – I was convinced I would find it there. I would leave half a year later to briefly return home and resume college in the fall. There I met the young man with whom I’d leave home a final time, just before my nineteenth birthday. With neither of us working and having a rent to pay, I took the only job I could find – I supported us both. This “career” lasted just short of a year, until that fateful day in early November when I made a poor choice and misjudged someone’s intentions.

This man who violated me, he had violated others before me and would do the same again, over and over, for decades to come. In and out of jail he’d go, for petty crimes and preying on women, always skillful enough to evade the worst penalties, copping lesser sentences for being an informant and a snitch. In a news article I read a few years back, I found out that he was deceased. In some small way, the invisible scar with his name on it finally felt clipped from its source. I read other articles about the havoc he wreaked over the years, one of them a trial that created a legal precedent in Canada. For the many times I’d wished him dead, I was glad that the universe had finally complied with my request.

As for me – no sense can be made of all of this. We can claim it is karma until the cows come home, but I don’t understand (even now) the vagaries of the universe, within the context of our small lives. We are insignificant, when we look at how vast the universe is, and yet each of our experiences is important in their own right. We are each important. We deserve respect, love and to not confuse those things with the pain some feel determined to inflict upon us in their guise.

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beginner’s journey

Tomorrow I’m scheduled to have my gall bladder removed (though the hospital is expected to only let me know today what time I need to show up for the surgery). This morning, as I lay here in some measure of discomfort (the pain of this gall bladder issue ebbs and flows and is never a predictable predicament), I am reminded why it is that I signed up for this procedure.

It’s a day surgery and I’ll be released same day… we’ve come a long way, baby. My mom had a zipper that spanned upper right front abdomen, slashing down her side to the back. Not a small incision. I’m collecting scars in this life, apparently, and this new batch will be the third conglomeration, added to the hint of appendix removal from when I was six and more recently the c-section scar.

My last couple of more serious surgeries left no visible scars… traces of the cataract removal and lens replacement can only be seen under magnification and the heart surgery was done through catheters and those tiny incisions have also become invisible (or maybe I’m just not flexible enough to find them).

Another “optional” body part bites the dust. I posted on Facebook the other day a query about how many of them one could lose and have the body still function optimally. Does this mean that my gall bladder meridian will no longer have an organ guiding it or is it all on a subtle level and the guidance continues on despite the organ no longer being present? Ahhhh… the things I ponder (in the pre-coffee early morning).

I watched one of Justin Timberlake’s videos the other day from the Oprah Masterclass Series in which he spoke about how he embraces being a beginner all the time throughout his creative process and that he prefers to work from that place because it keeps him feeling fresh and alive.

I have to agree with him on that. I love being in and working from a place of inquiry. I like being proficient enough at something to feel like I’m not floundering but also still enjoy the excitement of discovery and the puzzle of figuring things out. Perhaps I am an anomaly.

Every new task can be approached in this manner, creative ones more obviously but also those that appear to be less so – like building a database for someone. The actions and steps have all been done before and are similar in execution but how you put it together is entirely project reliant, dependent on the current situation’s expected outcomes.

In any case, I’ve been doing a lot of that beginning stuff lately. I recently fashioned a new website (using their tools, clearly, but still had to learn how to use them) on Wix, I’ve created a tiny book, I’ve been sketching and writing (and those who do both know the feeling of what a blank surface evokes in a creative person).

Today, somewhere in between the cleaning, the laundering of bed linens, popping over to the grocery store for a few items and prepping some meals ahead of time in anticipation of being useless and in pain for a couple of days, I want to design a couple of knitting patterns for some fingerless cuffs and mitts to offer up for sale in the Shop.

On that same note, I have a few other things that I want to put up there but the shipping part has me baffled so I’m holding off. I need to figure out packaging, dimensions and weight and mailing details and speed and then go from there. It’s always a mystery, this mailing thing. In any case, that is what is holding up progress somewhat, but I’m working on it.

But I like this place… this space of discovery. It’s what I relish the most about new jobs – that place of learning what you need to know in order to figure out how you can apply all of your previously learned skills to the task, and picking up new ones in the process.

So the day commences… adventure awaits… but first, coffee!