Drip. I am ten years old and at my grandmother's house. We are fixing breakfast--bacon, eggs, and toast. I'm preparing the bacon for her to fry and decide that clearing the counter and throwing the eggshells away would be a good idea. I gather everything and head toward the trash can. BLACKOUT. I regain consciousness a few minutes later and discover that blood is gushing from my chin. A physical scar remains from this incident--my first seizure.
Drip. I am in middle school, and the teacher is passing out report cards. I glance at mine: all high A's except for one A that is lower than usual. At home, my mother has eyes only for that low A. "You need to bring that up," she tells me. I mumble yes, knowing that I could have done better if I hadn't gotten a C on that one assignment. After all, I am capable of so much more.
Drip. I am fifteen and behind the wheel. Mom and I are in the empty parking lot of an outlet mall. "Just drive," she tells me. My foot touches the pedal, adjusting to make sure I don't go too fast, and I panic. An elderly man approaches us. My feet wander the area under the steering wheel, wondering which pedal is the brake. I stomp on it and nearly run over the man. "You can't practice here," he tells us. After enough incidents of panicking behind the wheel, I give up on learning to drive.
Drip. I am seventeen and sitting in church during Sunday morning service, just like I do every Sunday. The pastor asks one of the men to lead the first prayer. I attempt my own silent prayer and find that my prayer hasn't even left my skull. During the fellowship hymn, I still tell everyone that God is treating me well before leading the children to the library for story time.
Drip. I am a senior in high school. I check the college's website to find out my grades, knowing exactly what to expect. My assumption was correct. My reaction, however, was unexpected even for me. Yes, I am capable of so much more. This time I didn't care.
With this, I left. I left my family, the town I grew up in, my friends (although we rarely stayed in touch after graduation). I chose to attend a school that no one else I knew would choose. Cloaked as a nobody, I began to bloom as I destroyed my old perceptions of self in a brand-new idea of identity.
Rip. I am in my first semester of college. I attend a fair during Orientation Weekend where local churches advertise their services, but I have no intent of attending the church. Skipping church is now the norm, along with ignoring prayer and devoting my time to anything but the Bible. I give religion one more shot and attend a meeting of a religious group on campus. As they discuss what we as Christians should and shouldn't do, I can't believe my ears. Rules? For a religion? I quickly lose interest. This isn't the way I want my religion served.
Rip. I am in an introductory philosophy course. One topic of discussion is the existence of God. I choose the existence side during the debate and find that I have to work much harder to defend existence than to defend nonexistence. Quite frankly, either side is perfectly defendable, I decide.
Rip. I am at a Daughters of Gaia meeting that spring. That week's topic was tea leaves, tarot, and other related devices. This piques my curiosity, so I attend. At the meeting I fumble with the tarot cards and lumps of tea leaves instead of distinguishable shapes, all with a heightened sense of skepticism while doing so. No, I tell myself. This isn't it either.
Rip. I make friends, many circles of friends, as I did in high school. Certainly I drift from group to group as I always have, but this time I am more stable within them. We bond, we eat together, we explore the world around us--Agnes, Decatur, Atlanta. They may not share my passions for words or numbers, but they understand and even accept them.
Rip. I am in my third year of college. I am sitting in a geometry class, and for the first time in my life I have no idea why these ideas on projective geometry are true. I fumble for two classes over the ideas while everyone else is understanding just fine, holding back tears both days. On the second day I present an idea. The professor refutes it. I break down, trying to hold back the tears again but this time failing. I run to the bathroom across the hall after the class ends and clean up. The professor is waiting when I return for my stuff. "I'm sorry I upset you," she said. "You're usually so resilient." Two months later, I sobbed on the same professor's shoulder right before finals. Big girls do cry.
I returned to my parents' house for breaks--fall break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break--and rarely more often. I avoided returning there if I could help it, not because of my parents themselves, but because of the reminders of the old me, the assumptions that I must always be the same person forever, the trapped sensation I felt every single time I returned.
Paste. I am sitting in a McDonalds in my hometown with my grandmother, a hamburger in front of each of us. She tells me what is happening to everyone at the church, from the people on the library staff to the ladies in her Sunday school class. I take advantage of a pause in the conversation to tell her that I no longer believe. She denies it and asks if I've been brainwashed. I assure her that my decision is of my own volition, but she denies it and continues to tell me the happenings of the people at the church.
Paste. I am in the doctor's office. Mom is sitting next to me because she drove me there and because of her insistence that she go in there with me, despite my telling her that I am an adult now. As we talk about my condition, Mom is talking over me and talking to the doctor about me as if I'm not there. I interrupt loudly with what Mom is saying--not out of immaturity and spite, but because I am no longer the two-year-old with language problems.
Paste. I am at the store, and I see someone my parents know. They recognize me, and we begin to talk. They ask me if I'm still making all A's in school. I know the answer: I'm not. I'm thankful for this, for there are so many things more important than a 4.0. I know they won't take that for an answer, though, especially to see that I have fallen.
Paste. I am in my room, in front of my computer. My parents enter, telling me that I need to get out of the house. I think of my brother, who is rarely in the house when he is home. I have no friends left here. I have no car to drive. I have nowhere to go except to my books, my words, the Internet. When I am here, the Internet is my outside world, for it is a place where I can socialize and write at the same time.
I am stuck inside the place that watched the old me form, a place where everyone tries to pull out the old me. The new me tries to show herself as an attempt to tell the others that the old me is dead, but she lies. The old me isn't dead. Bits of her still live in the new me, and she resurfaces whenever certain triggers of the past are brought up. Slowly but surely the old me is learning to leave the new me, for home is where the heart is, and my heart is certainly leaving this place.
I am my own scar.
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