In the middle of my chest.

I was just a little girl.  Of that I am sure.  I was born perfect.  I was born a perfect little girl.

That’s all I can verify as truth.  That is the truth of the statement.  I was born.  I was perfect.  I was a girl.

The rest is anybody’s guess or opinion really.  I don’t know my mother’s labor story.  Was it long?  Painful?  Did she go the natural route or beg for something to eradicate the pain of the perfect life shredding through her?  Was I vaginal or C-section?  Was my father there holding her hand?  Was anybody there holding her hand at all?  Now that I’ve had children of my own, I wonder- did she feel that sense of loss when they handed me to her?  That sense of protectiveness?  Did she feel that sad and heavy loneliness that only a mother who has carried life in her can feel after that life goes from the inside to the out?  You spend months that seem like years with someone invading every aspect of your life and body and then, it’s gone.  I was so lonely in the moment I realized the invasion that had made me crazy, had also kept me safe and sane…comforted.  Full.  Did my mother feel that?  Doubtful.  But that’s just my opinion.  That’s the truth.  The truth is, I don’t know how she felt.  Whatever it was, it was either too horrible to relate to me or to uneventful to remember to tell me.

I do not possess a single picture of my mother holding me as a newborn.  Or as an infant.  Nothing of us together until I am almost two.  Even then, she isn’t holding me.  I have a picture of my father holding me…smiling at me as he holds me above him.  I am a newborn…or relatively close to it.  It’s within the month that I was born at any rate.  A curious thing about my life-

The mother I do not recall, nor have pictures of, I remember as being the only one there.  When she died, I grieved as if I had lost my best friend.  You would have never known by my actions that she herself had been missing in one capacity or another, most of my life.  My mother was a victim.  That is the truth.  She lived as a victim and I loved her as such.  It lacked compassion on my part.

The father that holds me in the picture, smiling and happy- proud…He rarely if ever speaks to me.  I remind him he once said, of his failure as a parent.  Once he held that perfect little girl and now he sees his disfigured, failed, divorced and floundering daughter.  Truth?  I wish I was speculating.  I wish he had never said any of that.  I wish I was that baby and he was that man.

The truth is, I was born perfect to people who were also born perfect, who were born to people who were born perfect…Do you see the breakdown here?  Do you see where it all went wrong?  Of course you don’t.  The truth is about making it right.  The truth is about healing the things we cannot understand, change, justify, or wrap our broken hearts around.  The wound is the lie.  When we were little children, someone lied to us and created the wound.  For a long time they took their infected wounds and passed them on.  It wasn’t your fault.  It wasn’t their fault.  Each person does the best they can in any moment.  The first truth is this- Forgive.  The next truth is this- Stop touching it.  The wound inflicted by others when we were children has long since scarred over.  The new wound, the new lie is the all ours.  The one we have told ourselves, created, embellished, denied, picked at, rubbed salt in and festered on.  Wounds heal.  That’s the nature of things.  If it gets infected, if it fails to heal, if it keeps coming open and oozing all over the place- that’s not natural.  That’s you.  Healing didn’t need your help.  It needed you to stop touching it.  Quit picking at it.  That’s the truth of the statement.  But then again- there’s another truth.

Sometimes there are wounds and we have no idea how we got them.  We woke up with it one day and though we don’t know how, we know it wasn’t good and nobody is talking about it.  As children we confuse the irresponsibility of our parents and/or other adults as our own shame.  It isn’t your fault.  It isn’t their fault.  Everybody does the best they can in any moment.  No matter how shitty it is.  No matter how much they did or did not do.  The first truth is still the same.  Forgive. The worst thing about this wound is that because nobody can explain it, or own it, we all pretend as though it isn’t there.

“Do you see this thing sticking out of my chest?  It’s like a thorn, only it’s the size of a tree stump- do you see it?”

“See what?  I see nothing.  That speck right there?  That sliver?  It’s not that bad…It’s barely noticeable.”

That works for a long time.  But then you grow up.  You’re an adult now.  Other adults are looking at you and asking,

“Did you know there’s a tree growing right smack dab in the middle of your chest?!”  And you say,

“What?  This sliver?  It’s nothing!”

That’s a lie.  That is not the truth of the statement.  You know it isn’t.  You know that there most definitely is a tree in the middle of your chest and that you are hiding an entire forest behind your back because that sonofabitch, spread.  It put down roots.  The truth of the statement is this- You know it’s there and you aren’t cutting it down.  It’s not your fault.  We all do the best that we can in any given moment…until the next moment comes.  This is that moment.  This is your moment.  This is your truth.  If you leave that tree there, thinking that as long as it remains then the gaping hole beneath it is somehow not there, or ok- you’re wrong.

I have a tree in the middle of my chest.  I don’t know who planted it there.  I have no face.  I have no name.  No responsible party that I can safely and with a clear conscience, blame.  Someone, at some point, somehow, planted a seed of horrible in my heart and this damn thing grew right where it was laid.  No one dug it up.  No one trimmed it back.  The truth is, some people helped it to grow.  As I got older, the best I could do was find people to do just that.  It’s all I knew.  That’s the truth.  I thought for a very long time, that those roots spreading through me were love.   I thought I was nothing without that tree.  I thought that people loved me for that tree.  Loved my shade.  Loved to crawl up inside my branches, break them off, carve into me, hang from me…because they loved me.

I don’t know when or how I came to know that there was a dead thing in my chest.  There was no flash of light.  No great “aha” moment.  My mother died.  My father wouldn’t come to the funeral for me.  Long gone were the mother who was never there, the perfect baby girl and the man who had held her with so much promise.  I sat on the porch with a jar full of ashes in my hand and thought,

This is it.  This is where it ends.  Where we go.  What we are.  Dust in a jar.  An ache in another’s heart.  Unfinished words and leftover resentments.

And I was hollowed out.  Roots and all, gone just like that, but it was just a moment.  A dull ache.  Like harvesting one field, just to look across the dirt road and see the next five that need to be done by weeks end.  It’s just work.  Cut it down.  Tear it out.  Face the wound.  Apply the truth.

The truth is, I was born a perfect baby girl to parents who were born perfect to parents who were also born perfect.  The truth is forgiveness.  The truth is the only lie there ever is, is the one we choose to believe.

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