Flesh. Burning. Kitchen. My flesh. Burning. In the kitchen.
11 years old, and I had carelessly reached for something in the stove area. I never made that mistake, again.
Had I known hypnosis and NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), I could have handled the pain better, even reversed some of the tissue damage. (Yes, I’ve done that before.)
But of course being 11 years old, I only knew the burning pain.
That burn left a mark on my body, and I got a reminder of it each time I had my shirt off in front of a mirror. And color me surprised, when many, many years later, the mark had vanished.
Was that vanishing normal? Odd? Not sure. Obviously, I underestimated my body’s healing abilities. What I thought would scar me for my lifetime was simply healed, gone. Glad my prediction was wrong.
Having burned my flesh leaves a mark, yet there are marks we can’t see.
Age 9, and I’m crying after my parents told me we were moving. That day I cried more than I ever had in my young life.
Moving meant losing Christopher, my best friend. Sometimes we adults underestimate the rich emotional life children can have. No matter our age, we can despair when faced with profound loss.
But, I had no choice. My dad was in the U.S. Army, and when Uncle Sam says move, you say, “Yes, sir!” Ah, the life of an army brat.
Since arriving in the U.S. as a baby from South Korea, we first moved to a small city in Ohio. Then to a larger city, Cleveland, Ohio.
From ages 7-9, we lived in a small town called Fayetteville, in North Carolina. I remember how exciting it was to have Taco Bell open up in our city.
Age 10, we lived in Rockville, Maryland. Age 11, we lived in Fairfax, Virginia. Ages 12 and 13, we lived on an army base in North Carolina called Fort Bragg. This was next to Fayetteville. So, I got to see my old friend, Christopher, again.
Sadly, though we saw each other in school, we didn’t really connect.
Then my dad left the U.S. Army, so no more transfers! We moved to a small city, Corona, California for ages 14 and 15. Then to a nearby small city, Moreno Valley, California, for age 16.
By that point, we had moved 7 times. And each time, I had to adapt to a new school, make new friends, and start my young life all over again. Each. Single. Move. And that amount of moving left a mark as well.
Endings and new beginnings became a theme of my childhood, a theme I didn’t choose. I had zero choice. Parents were in charge, though looking back, the U.S. Army was in charge. But of course, if you join the Army, you know you’re going to be transferred.
Yet the gods of change did bestow a few gifts upon me. I received the gift of deeply understanding that people are the same no matter where we lived.
Sure, minor differences showed up. What people ate, how they spoke, how they dressed, a few beliefs varied. But my young self realized that on a deeply fundamental level, we were all simply human beings. And when you looked deeper than the surface level, we were all the same.
Another mark… I remember one teacher who hit us with a ruler as punishment, and she taught me the lesson about authority, power, and cruelty.
I remember getting into a fight with a bully, learning that as tough as he seemed to be, deep down he was a human being, too. He was no monster.
And I remember my good friend, “Bob,” and I discussing a guy I barely knew named “Vic.” (Names have been changed to protect privacy.) In a serious conversation, I questioned why so many classmates bullied Vic.
My friend, Bob was not doing the bullying, but he justified the bullying. When he said that, my heart broke. I knew Bob and I could no longer be close friends.
As with all of us, my childhood left some marks. But as an adult, I view them now as metaphorical souvenirs. They remind me of what happened, what lessons I learned.
They sit peacefully on a shelf. Now and then, I pick one up, examine it, and reflect.
And gently, tenderly, I return the souvenir to the shelf. No need to carry it with me. After all, souvenirs aren’t meant to travel with me each day. They’re meant to be on the shelf.
I own many souvenirs from my travels. I own them, as it would be silly to let them own me.
… … …
What souvenir do you now own? I’d love to hear what you think of this post. There’s the surface level hypnotic story. A second level.
But can you, using your subconscious skills (not your conscious analytical skills), recognize a third level? Yes, we’re now getting more advanced.