I believe that when words cut deeper than actions, healing the wound is a decision. We can let it bleed and bleed and bleed, or we can choose to learn.
Life is a stampede. Each one of us seems to be the wildebeest at some point in our lives, the music swelling as the pack reaches the hilltop and pours over the edge. We are the beasts, galloping from fear that we can’t be better, and struggling to be in front.
Yet sometimes we are the lion underfoot. We strain for life, for air, for hope, only to have the wind knocked out of us with hoof after beating hoof.
We were in her bedroom, just lying around, trying to escape the heat of summer. The trees outside the window brushed their leaves on the pane with breeze. Just two seventh graders, best friends, up to not much of anything.
I was sitting at the vanity, my back to the rest of the room, watching my friend in the mirror. Scanning the counter, I looked for the box of lip gloss. Practically a collection, at least to a 12 year old, it held dozens of the fruity glaze. I lifted the lid and selected one as the fruit scented menagerie attacked my nose. Unscrewing the cap, I moved the wand to my dry lips.
” What are you doing?”
” Putting on lip gloss. Why?”
” Put it down – and don’t use it anymore. It’s mine.”
Her snarl burned my ears but I put it down, just like she said. I didn’t want to lose another friend. I had to let her be mean.
I glanced back up to see her thumbing through a magazine – my magazine. I looked aside and brushed it off.
” You know…”
The voice started up again, and this time seemed to hold a glint of promise.
” …before we were friends I thought you were the ugliest person.”
It was then that my heart broke – shattered. I choked on my breath, tears welled in my eyes, and I felt as if someone had just kicked me in the stomach. I managed to croak out one word.
I wanted to scream, but the four letters came out as a whisper.
” I said, before we were friends…”
My “best friend’s” voice faded into the background, and though it didn’t hurt any worse the second time around, I was still in shock as to why anyone would make a comment like that to someone who cares about them.
This time, I was the lion underfoot, trampled and broken, crushed beneath the hooves of that wild-eyed wildebeest,desperate to run from her insecurity.
However, with her words, something clicked inside of me. I suddenly saw the asinine logic of my behavior.
I believe that we must force ourselves to rise from our bloody ashes, brush off the soot, and limp, if not walk, on. We cannot allow ourselves to curl up in a ball and cry forever when something hurts us deeply. But more than anything else, I believe that while pain is not a choice, overcoming it is. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.