We all start out so precious, so pure. We arrive into this world innocent, helpless, vulnerable creatures blessed with the power of infinite potential. Armed with baby powder and porcelain skin, we are like a car driving off the dealer lot with that new car smell and immaculate paint job. We are loved, pampered, protected – just like the car of the proud owner obsessing over it. Both baby and car venture into this vast new world in parallel fashion, armed with unlimited possibilities to face the road ahead.
We typically can just roll along with life in our early stages, seemingly in cruise-control, in full discovery mode. But, inevitably, that first major speed bump penetrates into our awareness, jolting us out of our perfect world. It’s like that first scratch on our shiny new car – it may be fixable but, intuitively, we know it can never be the same. Damage done, not truly irreversible. In our young life, it may be a flesh wound, our skin cut or just badly bruised, tearing through our porcelain skin. It may not even be physical pain. It may be Daddy yelling at Mommy or, worse yet, Daddy or Mommy yelling at us, delving into our beautiful bubble of bliss and inflicting emotional pain. We get scared as our naive psyche experiences conflict for the first time and start to cry, confused at this complicated turn of events.
As we grow and continue to face challenges, we discover we are resilient but also sponges. Trauma bounces off us like rubber, but we are unconsciously absorbing all these events, big and small, as we simultaneously deflect it but imprint it too – subtle tattoos that ultimately form a scar on our tender souls. Youth is a glorious gift, providing forward momentum with an inner inertia that allows us to push forward through adversity, despite disappointment infiltrating all our borders.
But like waves relentlessly crashing on shore, our experiences gradually take their toll. The consistent hits in our life – emotionally, psychologically, physically – piles on and adds up. Another, then another, brick in the wall until, ultimately, the cumulative sum overwhelms us. My sense is if we watched a highlight film of all the adversity we have faced and overcome in our life, we’d be absolutely shocked at how much we humans can endure. Dysfunctional family relations, broken hearts, deaths, divorces, verbal abuse, physical ailments, mental suffering, financial setbacks, soul killing jobs…the list goes on. Remarkably, we have the ability to absorb all these punches. Yes, sometimes they knock us off our feet but we tirelessly get back up. We dust ourselves off, often with the help of loved ones, and carry onward and upward.
With time, we get a little more bruised, jaded, damaged and hurt as we slowly tip the scales – the youthful exuberance gives way to guarded pessimism as we raise our protective shields. The manifestation of emotional states like anxiety, depression, anger, rage, sadness and despair creep in and linger longer. We start to get headaches, backaches, ulcers, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and other psychosomatic symptoms. We smoke, drink, shoot up, pop pills…anything to manage our stress levels. It only gets exacerbated with insomnia, overcaffeinating, emotionally eating and not exercising.
Nevertheless, we all have our coping mechanisms. Our vices and behaviors keep propping us up: we fall down, we get up, we fall down, we get up. But like an aging athlete, as we reach the end of the line it increasingly takes us a little longer to get back up after continuously getting knocked down. We get a little more wobblier as we try to summon our strength for the umpteenth time. Legs unstable and the mind waving the white flag ’til finally, after being pummeled for so many years, you just remain on the floor. Numb. Broken.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again