I’ve been retooling a speech, putting together old and new material into one super speech for this weekend. I’m speaking in Merritt, BC and while I’m talking story I’m also explaining lessons I’ve learned through the story.

One of the topics I cover is ‘wholeness’. How physically I’m altered and logically I’m not whole, but I feel whole. If the state of my mind and heart are whole then I am, in fact, whole. Even though my crazy stitched-up body will always be my crazy stitched-up body I’ve made peace with it. Until summer comes around.

It’s far better than it used to be. I don’t intensely dislike girls who can pull off a tank top anymore and what I mean by ‘pull off’ is really anyone that doesn’t have scars running up and down their arms stopping and starting in neat lines making sleeves. I was envious of something I no longer had and I was a girl that wanted to feel pretty.

Everyone is allowed parts of the body they hate. I just hated almost all of my body. Except for my boobs. Miraculously, they escaped the fire. So, I had that. For the most part, I didn’t judge people’s nitpicking about themselves. Once in a while, though, I got uptight. When people would complain about the nick they have on their otherwise smooth tanned leg or the small scar on their arm from when they were poked with a fork or something equally as offensive I thought, oh yeah? I’ll show you. I wanted to rip off my clothes to show them what scars were all about, which was quickly rebuffed by sanity and my polite side returning to me. I’d murmur my agreement. “That sucks.” And shake my head knowingly. They knew I could sympathize. Years ago Someone-I-Knew said, “I sprained my toe and I thought of you right away. It is so painful. I knew you could relate.” I tried to stop my jaw from unhinging and said, “Oh?” What I should have added was uh, no, spraining your toe is not the same as having someone cut them off.

As I got distance from the crash I was less jealous of people with normal skin and more tolerant of the stupid things people say (also, people stopped saying stupid things). I grew comfortable in my new skin, in who I am. It’s just that summer is a trigger for what I lost.

As I’m reading the lessons I wrote down two years ago for one particular speech I’m reminded again of not just how horrific it all was, but what has happened since, what I’ve made of my life. All of the good that’s come, the joy I found, and I’m filled with gratitude.

The speech is called A Life Worth Living and this weekend on June 12th it will have been 13 years since the car crash and I think it’s kinda cool that I’m speaking on June 11th, the day before everything changed in the blink of an eye about love, hope and being whole.

15 thoughts on “whole

  1. IntenseGuy

    I almost fear leaving a comment – not wanting to “say” anything stupid…

    But there was a thought that popped in my head when you introduced the word “wholeness” – and that is, you are whole – no matter how “incomplete” be or how many “parts missing” (or not working) you might have. That is to say, whatever there is of you – that’s you in your entirety.

    And while I won’t belittle the desire to be pretty (or complete), the wholeness of you… your entirety is makes a “someone” I’ve enjoyed reading about and learning your story. Not that the horrific was eas easy to read – but rather, from the point of view of “internal courage” or fortitude or human pluckiness – whatever you want to call it – that you have in abundance – that when added to your ability to write and powerfully express yourself makes rivoting and inspiring impression.

    I hope you inspire those that are fortunate to hear your talk this weekend. I’m sure you will enlighten more than one mind that hasn’t “seen one of the many other sides of life”.

    1. heidi

      You don’t need to be afraid of anything you say (besides, the ‘stupid things’ are good fodder for stories) – you always say the wisest, kindest things. I so appreciate you and your words. They are words of wisdom and encouragement, and I always learn something when I read what you have to say. Thank you. Calling me plucky might be one of the best compliments ever!

  2. kim

    You probably hear this all the time, but reading this gives me hope. Hope that one day, those jealous feelings will subside. Right now, I have to wear scarfs whenever in public, but when it gets hot, just seeing people in scoop necks and such is one of those things that irks me.

    As annoying as it is, it kinda does amuse me when people make silly comments comparing a relatively minor complaint against a life altering one.

    I wish you well with your book and your speech.

    1. heidi

      Kim, it got better with time for me. I’ll never pretend that I know what it’s like for you, I just know that’s what worked for me. Time and keeping my head up. I refused to walk around feeling defeated. The things that bothered me have now become funny stories because sometimes you just have to laugh, you know?
      Thank you for your kind wishes and giving your thoughts. I’m honored and touched.

  3. Toriz

    It doesn’t matter if physically you aren’t whole; it’s the mental and/or spiritual feeling of wholness that counts. If you don’t have that then it doesn’t even matter if you’re physically whole, because you still wont feel whole. But if you have that… Well, in that case it doesn’t matter about physical wholeness.

  4. Kate Coveny Hood

    Wish I could come hear you speak – but this blog will have to do as a substitute. I actually think about you and summer sometimes. You wrote about it once (maybe last year?) and I think it’s one of my favorite posts that I’ve ever read (by anyone, I mean…)

    I definitely have parts of my body that I hate – and the list gets longer as I get older – but more and more, I’ve been trying to focus on how I feel inside of my body instead of how I appear in the mirror. I try to appreciate the feel of a warm breeze on my face and not lament the wrinkles that keep showing up like I’m handing out 10 dollar bills. Instead of cringing at the ever loosening skin of my upper arms, I’m proud that I can carry two 35 lb 4 year olds up 2 flights of stairs.

    I regreheal the time I wasted wishing I looked different when I was so young and beautiful in my own right. And I feel like I owe it to the older me not to do that now.

    But it’s really hard.

    1. heidi

      Do you know what I like about you? That you can make me laugh and think all at the same time. The same way you talk about your body is the way I talk about mine – I’ve learned to look at my scars and see them as something I’ve earned. I love what you said, “And I feel like I owe it to the older me not to do that now.” Yes. I get that. I agree. And it is hard.

      I’ve said this before but one day we have GOT to meet and have a glass of wine.

  5. Deb

    It was a pleasure meeting you last night, Thank you for sharing your story it definitely was inspiring!

  6. Roberta

    Good luck to you on your speech. I haven’t been around much because of a new job, but I love that you kept at writing and moving forward. I will try to check in more. Take care.

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