I write a lot about body image and identity–the connection between the body—shape, weight, height, physical capacities—and the self. The body you live in is a house for the self; from
your body you negotiate the world. People make inferences about you based on what they see, and those inferences, whether you believe them, whether you know them or not, are part of your ascribed identity.
But today I’m thinking about the pieces of identity no one can see on the outside. The Trials, losses, illnesses, upheavals. Though people can’t necessarily see the tough stuff you’ve been through, it’s part of you. Being bullied as a child by a “best friend,” losing a parent, enduring the aftermath of a house fire—these are pieces of my baggage, which I’ll carry to my grave. They are not all of me, but are included in me, inextricable parts of my identity.
I’m thinking about loss a lot lately. Last week, my husband lost his aunt, a brilliant, wise and sensitive woman. I’m thinking about the way her illness and death have affected those who were closest to her, her children, her husband, her beloved sister, how the strength of her love and the beauty of her memory will one day heal them.
A week earlier, tragedy struck our town not once but twice, as a college-bound high school senior took his own life, as a terrible accident took the life of the parent of one of my daughter’s schoolmates. Our town feels like a different place today.
You are forever changed by your experiences of suffering. You may be far into the healing process by now. Possibly you have finished healing and are happy despite your suffering. But you are YOU because of it.
Sometimes the strongest layers of the self come from our emotional scar tissue.
For so many artists, poets and writers, this scar tissue is one of the richest sources of creativity. Though I am not blogging much these days (my energy is focused on a “revise and resubmit” arrangement I have with a literary agent), over the next few weeks, I am going to devote some posts to fellow bloggers who have channeled their life-trials into creative works—books, blogs, blogs-that-will-be-books—that are sure to touch and enrich the lives of others.