How To Heal A Broken Bone.
how can you help a friend realize their value? That is the topic for Optimist International Essay this year. I had this moment, upon hearing the topic, where I was winded by this amazing question. This question hits me hard because of a friend who has very recently done this for me. He is a lot of talk, often tells me I am important in his life, than does something that leaves minor stress fractures that heal in a day or so, and breaks that take longer, really need more than a splint to heal correctly. Then he is his own dichotomy, doing things that make me feel like, he loves me despite my numerous flaws.
I once broke my left arm when I was 10. There was a teenage girl that did tricks on the sidewalk outside the front of our apartment on Daisy Street. She jumped over a incline in the sidewalk created by tree roots. She landed gracefully and even spun on one leg, the other leg gracefully bent. I wanted to do the same, but was no fool, waited until no one was on the street. Timidly, at first, I practiced and hopped a few tries. All landed well. Then finally I decided it was time. I rolled down to the end of the block and turned. No more than 100 feet away I could see the rise in the sidewalk that seemed no more intimidating than a lump in a mattress. I set the wheels in motion and built speed for this graceful jump that would become epic and the talk of the neighborhood. Then I hit the inclined and rose in the air for what I was sure must have been 3 feet, but never ascended quite to my expectations. Like Icarus, my fall was brutal. When I knew the cement was waiting for my face I reached out and fell directly on my left arm. I heard the crack. The neighbors heard the screams. My mother took me to emergency, reminding me how I had been told not to try anything fancy.
I remember the tears, and the sterility of the exam room. Holding my arm, to find nothing was comforting and then the doctor explaining everything to my mother. “The bone broke and moved on top of itself. We are going to have to pull them apart and force them back in place. It’s going to be painful” I don’t recall my mother asking them to numb me or give me anything for pain, and I’m sure nothing was given. The doctor, an older white man, with perfect dirty blonde hair and quintessential white lab coat tried to explain to me so that I would understand, “It will feel like we are re-breaking the bone to put it back.” I’m sure my 10 year old face contorted with the expected pain magnifying in my imagination. He added, “It will be quick, and once it is done you will feel better.” And I can count him as one of the few men that did not lie to me. It was quick, it was painful, and than the pain dissipated. There were moments of tenderness, sudden shots of pain, and itching that made the failed landing a haunting memory. But it was better, and the arm still works.
In a dive bar off of Lakewood Boulevard my friend re-broke my bones, theoretically. As painful as it was (and it was) for the first time I saw my value.
I know what I’m not. It has been made clear to me, repeatedly. It is enough to say that I told him something that he had done that was devastating to me. He had forgot. I had not. I began layering broken bone over broken bone. Allowing others to break bones and then joining in by breaking my own because I really don’t know how to make the pain go away. I was sure that keeping it all in was the way to handle. I rationalized that there was nothing to be gained for either of us if he was told what had been said or what had been done. He didn’t remember and there can be no clearer assessment o value than knowing you are forgetable. That was exactly my worth. So I let that be enough. To make sure I did not tell him, I stopped drinking and spending as much time with him. This only helped to perpetrate the fact that I had no value, because If I did, he would noticed. He never did.
At a table nearest to the jukebox, away from the TV loosing the ability to view the Galaxy’s back to back championship, 9 months became too long. I heard myself talking but I didn’t really hear the words. I watched his face. Somehow got caught up in the lines that began forming over his brows. The shifting in his eyes. Deep down I told myself once he learned of the damage he caused he would simply dismiss it as unintended and explain what he did not mean. But in his eyes I saw pain, and it was because he was the one who had hurt me. He had done this without knowing it yet it hurt him as if he was aware of each breath the words took. each stroke that his hands made.
No one has ever made me feel like the hurt in my heart could be felt in theirs. No one has ever made me feel like I was so valuable that not having me in their life would matter.
Maybe the value I think I don’t have is only my warped perception. Maybe he has taught me I have value.
Maybe I can start acting like it.
Maybe now the bones can heal.