I broke a glass in my hand once. It was a thin, crystal glass and it sliced the inside of my thumb below the knuckle. The gash required stitches, and because the doctor could not staunch the flow of blood, he was unable to see that he was stitching a tiny shard of glass into my thumb.
It was now a part of me, whether I liked it or not.
From then on, whenever I grasped something, it sent a shock of pain through my thumb and up my spine, reminding me of the original trauma.
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Sometimes I would run my index finger over the raised scar, feeling the sharp pain of the sliver still beneath the skin. Yet, over time I had become accustomed to it being there.
It was only occasionally that it would give me a sharp reminder of its presence.
Then one day, when I was mindlessly rubbing my index finger over it, I felt something protruding from the scar. I looked down to see the glistening tip of a tiny piece of glass. I ran to get my tweezers and carefully grasped it and removed it. I looked at it in amazement.
All those years, all that remained of that broken glass had lived in my thumb, and now, it was out. I rubbed my finger over the scar again and marveled that there was no electrifying pain that sent a shock up my spine.
I felt nothing. Just a thumb.
I was thinking recently about my long path to healing after losing my daughter to estrangement and it occurred to me this incident is a great metaphor for that journey.
After the initial shock of having my daughter cut me out of her life, I patched myself up the best I could.
I had a life I had to live and I couldn’t do it sitting in the unstaunched flow of grief that was pouring out of me.
But just as the doctor closed the wound in my thumb but left a shard as a reminder, there were reminders all around me. I would see someone who looked like my daughter and the shard would send a shock of pain through my body.