damaged goods“No amount of soul-searching would fix my past. There was no magical Band-Aid I could stick on my heart, no special glue I could use to make myself whole again. I had shattered to pieces like a fragile vase on concrete; some fragments could be roughly cobbled back together, but many of my vital parts had simply turned to dust, pulverized and scattered by the first gust of wind.”
― Julie Johnson, Like Gravity

I am all hard edges.

Corners and pointy angles that poke you if you get too close.  Like furniture in a house with a baby, I have bumpers and pads strategically placed to cushion my sharpness.  To soften the blow.  You can bump into me but you probably won’t get hurt.  You probably won’t feel a thing.  You probably won’t notice my severity.  Unless, you take the time to peel back the foam, untaping it from my surface.  Unless you go in – all the way in to get a close up look at the grooves in my wood, the distress of my finish.  If you venture down deep, head into that exploration, if you are brave enough to look under the hood, you might find a sharp object.  It might jump out at you.

That would be me.

I like to fool myself into believing that I am soft and squishy.  Like a rubber ducky or, perhaps, a sweet plush toy.  But, alas, I am less mush and more solid.  Harder than soft.  Rough and tough.  Yet, fragile and impermanent.  I’ve been broken apart, rebuilt, refinished, then scraped and scratched all over again.  My bumpers hide many of those scars.  You need to use a zoom lens – move in real close and look really carefully to see those scars.  And, only if I let you.

I appear like an open book but am a diary guarded with a titanium steel lock.  You can’t just walk up and approach my surface and attempt to remove my shield.  You cannot simply strip my wood without first gaining my express consent.  And I offer this rarely.  I am guarded, vigilant about protecting my contents.  Even after I have offered you the key, permitted your entry, validated your parking, I might change the locks.  Switch up the game.  Change my mind.  Retreat to my corner.  Go into hiding.  I might pick up my marbles and head on home.

After all, I am damaged goods.  I’ve been broken apart.   I’ve been rebuilt and refinished.   I’ve been scraped and scratched.  Again…and again…and again.

And again.

Damaged goods sit on the discount shelf.  They are sold “as is”.  No returns.  No exchanges.  You get what you get.  Damaged goods come packaged only with a single disclaimer.  You knew what you were buying.  You better really want it.  It’s up to you to fix it.  We take no responsibility.

Damaged goods often get tossed away.  They’re written off as a loss.  Forgotten about long before the new merchandise even arrives.  Damaged goods become an after-thought.  A nuisance.  An eyesore.  They need to be dealt with.  We are the sad puppies.  The last one’s selected.

I am all hard edges.  Trying to be soft.  Trying to let the foam and padding adhere itself so when it comes time to pull it away, it leaves a residue.  A reminder that softness was there.  A muscle memory.  An assurance that I am more than just sharp lines and angles.  That my corners which jut out and protrude beyond their appropriated space are not as menacing as they appear.

Inside a fire quietly burns, in hopes of melting away those hard lines but often looking more like an all-consuming inferno.  A flame that oxygenates and destroys all that crosses its path.  The forest before me is unknowing, unaware of what is headed their way.  My furnace burns hot, fired up each day to keep the engines running yet mindlessly overheating, sending sparks, leaking fumes.

It is inexplicable how I sit from my perch, my lofty vantage point and watch as the demons escape.  I see them scurrying about, wreaking havoc at every turn.  I observe them and tell them to settle down.  “Quiet yourselves!”  Yet they ignore my urging, my prompting, my coaxing.  They are relentless.  They are imps who want only to run free and cause maximum devastation.

Of course they do.  They are part of me.  Part of my damaged goods.  Part of my hard edges and sharp objects.  Part of my mindlessness.  My foolishness.  My weakness.  They cause me shame.  They make me angry.  I become apologetic.  I am, far too often, paralyzed.  The imps take over.  The demons rule me.  They prey on my damage.  They confiscate my vulnerability.  They devour me whole.

I am damaged goods.  I’ve been broken apart.  Rebuilding is harder and harder.  My tools become dull.  My acuity weakens.  My exhaustion becomes great.  Sometimes I just close my eyes and need to sleep.  Not to examine and process and explore and excavate and suffer.  I want to rest myself in hopes that I will regain my strength and mend my tattered wares.

I am all hard edges.  Desperately seeking a soft cushion to meet up with my corners, to protect my angles.  A netting to cover my wood to prevent the scratches, to avoid the scrapes.

I am a little girl, roaming around inside a woman’s body.  Living inside her brain and trying to understand her thoughts, her words, her ideas.  Trying to live up to the expectations.  It’s Freaky Friday.  I need my body back.  I don’t have a manual for this vehicle.  It’s a little scary in here.  I hide out, finding dark corners and safe spaces where no one can find me.  No one can get too close.

I seek safe harbor.  Alone.  In the quiet.  And then, just when I think I’ve tucked myself away, protected myself from the elements, created a world where I can exist in my solitude, someone walks in.  Uninvited.  Unannounced.

And he loves me.