At one time in my life, I was an athlete. I still think like an athlete––competitive, prepared, always trying to get better every day––but my body reminds me that my better days are behind me. During my days of playing just about every sport––I even played soccer for a while but don't tell anyone––I was fearless. And a little crazy. Some would say stupid.
When I was 11, I was playing quarterback at the Hollywood YMCA and dislocated my kneecap. Some kid dove right at my left knee to try and tackle me. We were playing flag football. I tried so hard not to cry. My Dad ran onto the field from the sideline and picked me up. I was more embarrased than hurt. And I wanted to go back in the game but I was going to the hospital because my kneecap was about to poke out of my skin. Fortunately for me, my Dad was driving fast and we hit a bump in the road. My leg got bounced around and my kneecap went back into place. Long story short, I was back in the game right after half-time. Good thing my Mom wasn't there or she would've taken me home.
That began a long and strange list of injuries that happened to me: broken thumb while running across the street, broken bone in my left foot my Senior year in high school––which I didn't know until a physical months later––two cracked ribs and dislocated shoulder playing softball (finished the game), broken nose playing basketball and way too many times on crutches because of knees, ankles and hip injuries. Even hurt my back bowling.
I can feel all them now. I can see some scars, as others do from all the sports injuries and surgeries. But there's a lot no one can see. No one can see the scars––physical and mental––from having to fight cancer two times. The "scar tissue" stays with you. If I had cancer twice, will I get it again? What do my insides look like after all the crap I had to put into my body to stay alive, to live another day? Hey man, I'm hurting in here! Does anyone notice? Do they care?
It's not self-pity. I don't believe in that. There are millions of humans who have it much, much worse that me. But it's only human nature to be fearful of what we can't see. The things that go bump in the night. The scary movies that don't show an ounce of blood––ya know, the kind Hitchcock used to make. We can't see the internal pain we cause others when we treat them badly, when we only care about our own agenda, when all we think about is ME.
I'm terrified to see what's going on in my body. I still have a ways to go. My body is fragile. It' still healing and will be for a few more months or even a year––at least that's what the doctors tell me. My body's jacked-up more than any injury I've ever had.
I just don't let you see it.