As events in our lives become more and more distant, their memory blends in with the other events of the days, weeks, and years that adjoin them until they become so faint that they seemingly dissolve.
That once burdensome memory becomes lighter and lighter over time until the only marker that remains is a steeled yet supple spot on the heart; the site of an internal battle fought and won, or a callous area… the site of battles that linger on.
The callouses guide us. They warn us.
Our parents used them as badges. A way of identifying each others choices. Honor, respect, duty, shame. etc. They had badges for everything.
Living in sentiment facilitates this type behavior. It’s a type of dreaming that doesn’t have much use for the present.
The badges help to remind us. We work to forget them, hoping that in doing so we will be free from them.
Those of us in pain look for them on others; searching for our broken match, dreaming of catching the hapless soul responsible for our loss, for our guilt, for our rage.
We really do try.
We contextualize. We revisit those callous areas.
We ultimately forgive ourselves just enough to get by because no one likes to be bled on. Unless they are bleeding too, then they don’t notice.
Too many noticeable scars… and we fight to show that we are something else.
Not enough… and we fiercely claim their legitimacy.
There are wounds that might be too faint for anyone else to see, and someone needs to know that they are indeed there.
The sad truth is that we all have too many scars.
Callouses restrict our range of motion. Maybe our bodies know that in hardening themselves, we risk less.
Punishment gives birth to armor.
It’s not the bleeding that is so bad as it is the stains. Once someone sees us with a stain, we know we will forever be that in their eyes.
They are to us.
Too us, I suppose.
Don’t they know that without claiming to be something, we feel at risk of not being anything?
We’ve seen the people they told us are not anything. They don’t treat them like people.
So we choose.
Badges. Labels. Bruises. Callouses.
We are them, politely, until we are no longer.
Disrespected angels, covered in stickers and patches