I am the least qualified to talk about the origin of mankind (yes, you guessed it; this- of course- is quite the hyperbole and, frankly speaking, a blatant lie) but I want to talk about the origin of things anyway.
Not that of the earth or humanity (I couldn’t care less to defend creationism or refute evolution tonight; well, maybe I could..) but that of my tough skin instead.
That is, not in a literal, biological or actual sense (for my skin is pretty soft), but perhaps in a philosophical sense.
So, here it goes:
The Origin of My Tough/Thick Skin
We all have a story to tell, and so I won’t bother narrating mine here.. but one thing I shall say about it: it has served me well. Through many ups and downs, situations and frustrations, it has kept me warm and safe, secure and mentally sound, awake, alive, glad. It has forced an enduring smile upon life’s scars.
But even at that, I found myself wondering: Which came first: the skin or the scars?
Was I made tough through life’s struggles, or was it my toughness that saw me through them?
Now, this question might mean nothing to most people, but it is one I have (I lie not) been asking for years.
My brother has told me on numerous occasions, that I am too tough. Tough? I laugh, you mean principled.
Well, of course there is right and there is wrong.
He rolls his eyes, he tells me he understands the nature of principles and still insists, I am tough.
And so I wondered what he meant.
I think I’m quite the caring and understanding and empathetic and well, even emotional at times, pretty lady.
Yes, he agrees, I am all that, but even more: I am extremely tough.
I stood confused. Partly amused at this interaction. What an interesting conversation to have with someone who’s practically, physically and indeed literally incapable of keeping his very own room neat and tidy for three days on a stretch. (No judgements there though. I repeat. No judgements.) But me, tough?
It didn’t bother me as much as I guess it would or could have bothered someone else, but it bothered me all-the-same..
If I spent some time thinking about my past, maybe I would find a childhood-trauma that has not yet been dealt with, that subconsciously affects me even today? Something that was so painful, so gruesome, so terribly unacceptable no living being had a memory of it; something so heart-wrenching only the Holy Spirit Himself could (but naturally would not want to) reveal? Maybe, just maybe, if I forced myself to remember, I would? And then, tracing back my steps and my feelings, I would arrive at the core of my thick skin?
Well, maybe Maybe not. The thought-process alone felt exhausting.
There had to be another way! One that was a bit faster, less complicated, and well, scientifically (I use the word very loosely here) verifiable.
Something like pictures!
And so I skimmed through old pictures.
Trying to trace a childhood-trauma. When did I loose my smile? Wait, that didn’t quite ever leave me.
My laughter? Still there. My cheerfulness? My open heart?
Nothing. I seemed quite normal. Quite, lovely actually.
This was futile.
Another source, my mother!
Not wanting to worry her, I was careful with my line of questioning.
No, I had never allowed people to kiss me. Not really anyway, I always seemed rather disgusted at the touch of a stranger. Always fast to wipe away a kiss. Always reluctant to hug. Right from toddler-hood, I had quite liked and needed my space. Ugh..how absurd! I guess, if I could have survived without the sucking of my mother’s breasts, I would have opted for that too.
That had always been my nature, she said. Not the cuddler, not the embracer; always on the strict and proper side.
Even before I knew what/where that side was. This had always been me.
Hmmmm.. I see. How strange, yet interesting!
Always rather independent, secluded, questioning and challenging, opinionated, with little regard or respect for conventional authority, it remained questionable why at all I “be”.
Anyway, so there it was.. this was me!
And as I quietly resolved in my heart that I was pretty normal (as far as normal -in God’s sense uniquely creating me- goes) I understood that this nature had indeed served me well. Kept me safe, if not protected. Shielded, if not sheltered. It had sustained me, the core of my being, my egg.
But what this had also done was shield me from others.. from them getting too close; if not physically, then certainly emotionally/ romantically! I love people, terribly, but I am okay without them too. Where my immediate (nuclear) family was not concerned, my emotions are worryingly balanced. Pretty safe from deep hurt, from incurable harm. They have always kept me in check, unable to wander too far or totally get lost. You see, they have been a blessing in many ways; but they have surprisingly been a stumbling-block all the same: This balanced outlook had kept me from falling in love!
(Insert Note: Well, of course, there could be worse things. But for the purpose of this post, this too is pretty bad..)
Always too rational, ready to question and to analyse.
Extremely impatient, refusing to accept the irrational, the illogical, the unnecessary ridiculous and dramatic bearings that so many (yes, and this is a fact) a-men come with.
And so, what has happened, is that I look at life and love through the lens of reason, of sense, and when finding little, I move on. After all, life is short and time is of the essence!
But of what worth is time when always spent alone?
I guess, what I have come to realize is that there is a time and season for everything. A time to be strong, and a time to allow yourself be soft. To lay off the shield; and pick it only when really needed. Not against the one you love, for now you stand united as one, but against those who threaten to intervene, to separate; to raise it only to protect.
Often-times we use our “nature” as an excuse: a refusal to allow ourselves let go, change, grow, develop. We hide behind the assurance of knowledge, the familiar, the convenient (although uncomfortable); blocking out every opportunity to experience something new, something potentially better; we shut the door to the unknown and remain, well, alone.
Sometimes certain aspects of our nature served us better in the past. Just like times and seasons, there are aspects of our nature that change, that develop, that take a different shape as times goes on.
Sometimes we realize this all too late.
This post is really only for those handful of girls who are still struggling to move on, to embrace life, and give people a chance. The chance to take a look and read us like a book. One page at a time.
In the grand scheme of things, whether the chicken or the egg came first doesn’t really matter; what matters now is that we allow ourselves live.
As long as it’s not merely to settle and to breed..