We All Have Scars

Jennifer C. Petersen
Published on: 12th November 2015
"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."

- Kahlil Gibran

When I was a young girl, a 40 pound raccoon came into our home through an open window.  We were living in the middle of the forest in Northern California, USA.  It waddled upstairs and entered into the bedroom I shared with my older brother and sister.  The heavy raccoon made his way onto my bed where I was sleeping alone.  He worked his way up to my shoulders and then sat directly on my chest.  He began sniffing my face.  I woke up, saw it and thought it was a dog.  So I pushed it away and said, “No doggie!”  The raccoon then reacted and began attacking me.  He went for my neck and I was able to put my arms up across my face to protect myself.  The raccoon then grabbed the flesh on the back of my arms and began chewing, puncturing, and pulling it off as I screamed.
My 2 siblings woke up.  Judy, my 6 year old sister, immediately ran downstairs to retrieve my parents.  And my 8 year old brother, Jimmy, grabbed a little blue chair from the room and tried to put it between the raccoon and my little body to get it to bite it instead of me.  This infuriated the raccoon and it began growling at my brother, so he backed off.  Then, when the raccoon would start attacking me again, my brother would again approach the rabid-like creature and try to get it to bite the chair again.  He attempted to do this over and over until my parents got to me. 

Over the years, my mom has described to me what she saw.  When she and my dad entered the room, she said it looked like a wild animal out in the wilderness, tearing the meat off of another dead animal’s carcass.  The raccoon was pulling it up, and slashing its head back and forth to rip the meat off my bones.  There was blood everywhere.

My dad immediately grabbed the raccoon by the back of the neck and pulled it off of me.  It snarled and growled as it scratched and bit his hands.  He ended up throwing it into a secured room, shutting it in.

Next, I remember my parents sitting me on the kitchen table, getting warm wet wash cloths, and cleaning my wounds.  They then put pressure on them to try and stop the bleeding.  I kept crying and repeating, “Doggie bite me.  Doggie bite me.”  They kept reassuring me it wasn’t a doggie, and that doggies are nice.  And that it was a wild animal.

They took me into town to our local hospital.  My arms were chewed up, I had bite marks on my neck and my left ear looked like hamburger meat.  I ended up getting over 102 stitches on the inside and outside of my arms and neck.  My ear would heal on its own.

I still have the scars from the attack.  I have them physically and emotionally.  My heart rate still goes up each time a dog approaches me.  Even though I know it wasn’t a dog that attacked me, I perceived it that way as a child.  It’s a weakness.

We all can be scarred and damaged emotionally in many different ways.  All of our reactions will vary.  One of the most common ways we react to scars and pain is to run away from it.  And in doing so, end up beating ourselves up even more!  We speak negatively to ourselves and most destructive of all, we may have a tendency to compare our insides with other people’s outsides.  It’s destructive, demeaning and damaging to our precious lives.  I know about it way too well.

Comparing myself to others is a malady I struggled with for many years of my life. I felt like a square peg that just never fit in.  It was as if everyone else out there knew something that I didn’t. I felt God made some sort of mistake by putting me here on this planet.  I became great at pretending to fit in, a superior actress at her best.   I could talk about things I didn't necessarily care or know about.  And participate in activities I didn't necessarily enjoy, just to make myself appear "normal." Although during that time in my life I was anything but normal.
I would describe myself as an ‘outgoing introvert.’  I would much rather stay at home and hide than being in public.  But when I am “forced to” I can play the role.  My biggest anxiety for years (besides having dogs around me) had to do with groups of people.  If I was at a mixer or get together, I’d stand in the corner and watch the clock until I’d made my 15 minutes appearance and head out the door.   Why is this?  Why couldn’t I fit in?  The answer was simple: I was comparing my insides with everyone else’s outsides.  I never felt like I lived up to the standard of the other people on this planet and that I was white trash.  When good things would happen, I didn’t think I deserved it.  When my life became calm and peaceful, I’d do anything possible to cause pandemonium so I could complain about how hard my life was.  Why did I do this? That’s the million dollar question.  The best answer I could ever come up with is that I didn’t think I deserved happiness or joy.  And when things went well, I had to create chaos.  If it was quiet, I would have to look at myself, and it was easier to look at everyone else.

As time went on, I decided I was tired of being miserable and running away from life.  I mean, I have only one, so I wanted to make the most of it.

Through learning how to live a balanced life emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I’ve learned how to love myself the way my higher power, who I choose to call God, would love me.  Everyone is equal.  There is no comparing.  When I see something in someone I like, I ask how they achieved it, and then go out to get it myself.

We all have scars or weaknesses.  It’s our responsibility to turn those weaknesses into strengths. When we live a balanced life, we will receive the answer we have been looking for.
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