I burnt the heck out of my knuckles the other week.
I was making gravy at the time. I was happy with how it was coming out for a change. I finally learned my mom’s secret for making it nice and smooth, rather than having to chase flour balls around the pan and squish them like foodie cockroaches before we sit down at the table …
Anyway, I was ladling the gravy out of the pan into the “gravy boat” (which, in my house, is designed to look just like a Pyrex measuring cup — sleek, huh?) when I glooped some of my hot, silky masterpiece (oooh — sounds so dirty, dudn’t it?) onto my knuckles.
I had things in my hands. It took me a few seconds to put them down. Then I got my hand under the faucet and held it there for a few minutes. Wasn’t terrible. But then it hurt like crazy when I took my hand out of the water. I had an ice pack on it through dinner. At Megan’s piano lesson that night, I touched my charred skin to the cool metal of the chair I was sitting in. It was surprisingly soothing. By bedtime, it didn’t feel too bad.
The next day, I woke to some pretty impressive blisters on my knuckles, but the pain was gone.
The day after that, the decomposition set in. In case you didn’t know, blisters that cover moving parts of the body don’t tend to stay in tact too long. Two days of ooze. Then soft, pussy, mushy gushy skin underneath.
It was disgusting.
But also slightly fascinating — like when you’re a kid and you find something squishy and dead on the sidewalk and you call your friends over and you all squat down to see it better and poke it with sticks.
I couldn’t stop looking at those wounds. They were ever-changing. There was something new to see every time I inspected them.
Then one morning, my body announced that it was ready to heal.
The ooze had ceased. There was a layer of dry, cracked something over the wounds.
This was the first time I really got to assess what was still left skin-wise. My middle knuckle was so mangled that I was uncertain my body was going to be able to pull off restoring it to something resembling normal. It was shocking (and yes, so super interesting) to see how many layers of skin were gone. I wondered if I’d have a permanent gully there. Could I actually regenerate that much tissue?
I started slathering Neosporin on my knuckles every few hours. Almost before my eyes, the cracked skin began to close up. Where there was no skin — which ultimately was most of my middle knuckle — it began to regenerate. I saw little skin islands pop up and I would cheer them on. “Go! Get bigger! Fill in that spot over there!”
I had to resist the urge to NOT TOUCH my boo boos (why is that so hard?) and let my body do its job. Every time I pulled at some bit of skin that was dry and sticking up, I revealed new skin underneath — new skin that wasn’t quite ready to see the light of day yet, but still OK.
And then you know what? Of the two really nasty knuckles, one looks like it’s only a day or two away from completely normal.
The really, really gross one looks … pretty good. It’s filling in. Two weeks ago I thought my hand would never look the same. Now, in about a week it will probably be hard to tell what’s happened there.
Hey, Trish! How about a point to this tale of gross-out gunkiness?
Don’t mind if I do.
My thoughts on all of this is that our bodies want to heal.
I think our lives want to heal, too.
That is, if we don’t pick at the gunky parts too much and we slather love on the parts that hurt, they’ll get better.
It sounds simplistic, I know. But maybe it could be that simple. Maybe it really could be as easy as not hindering the natural good that wants to come out.
How do we hinder the good?
We pick at things.
We thwart our own progress.
We eat stuff we don’t want or need.
We push away people we love.
We hang out with people who don’t genuinely care about us.
We don’t go after after the things we really want.
We get engrossed in disgusting, gloopy things. We poke them with sticks. We disturb the order.
We get in the way of the healing.
Maybe if we can find out how to create those little islands of good and healing in our lives — by taking a class, rediscovering a hobby, indulging in things that make our hearts smile — those tiny little islands will grow. Over time, they may just cover over the ooze.
And if you occasionally need to pick — which we all do sometimes, don’t we? — just give yourself a break about it. Think about all the times you didn’t do it when you wanted to. Congratulate yourself on your progress.
You may walk away with some scars. But you can live with scars. Scars can even be good — they can remind you of how far you’ve come.
Just don’t keep poking your stick into an open wound. Do what you need to do to heal it — whether it’s bandages, therapy, meditation or something else altogether.
Smear your hurt places with love. Then wait. Healing just may come.
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